Saturday, June 30, 2012


Very interesting.  Yes, enormous diversity within ourselves as Latinos, Mexicanos or whatever we're called....



Richard G. Santos

    Regardless of what one calls the ethnic group, someone will disagree
and make a good argument for being called something else. This is due to
the fact that the ethnic group commonly called Tejanos, Hispanic, Latino,
Chicano, Mexican American  or mejicano (by culture not citizenship) is
composed of nine sub groups with different genealogical, educational,
socio-economic, religious affiliation and U. S. residency differences. It
is easier to identify what the ethnic members DO NOT have in common than it
is to identify anything anyone can agree with. For instance, not all (1)
are Spanish surnamed, (2) speak Spanish, (3) speak U. S. English with a
Mexican Spanish accent, (4) are Roman Catholic, (5) are  descendants of
Mexican immigrants, (6) are lower socio-economic, (7) use, or are addicted
to, drugs, (8) carry pocket knives and/or concealed weapons, (9) are
members of the Democratic Party, and (10) drive a Ford or Chevrolet with
beer can tabs (if single) or baby booties (if married), or a rosary (if
Catholic) hanging from the rear view mirror.

    Digesting the ethnic group chronologically and ethnically, we begin
with the oldest members who are the Native Americans of South Central
Spanish Colonial Texas.  Commonly called Coahuiltecan by anthropologists,
archeologists, linguists and historians, it was composed of stone age,
nomadic, non-associated family clans and small tribes. Many were
assimilated into the Tejano Spanish colonial society through bilingual,
mono-cultural, language transfer education at the Franciscan missions. The
non-missions were incorporated within the October 12, 1837 report of the
Republic of Texas Bureau of Indian Affairs when it stated: "The people
called Lipan (Apache), Karankawa and Tonkawa, your committee considers part
of the Mexican Nation and are not to be distinguished from that nation.
They occupy the western part of Texas."  In 1837, west Texas began at the
Colorado River extending west to the Rio Grande.  The Coahuiltecan who
roamed the geographic area automatically fell within the historic cultural
identification dictate along with the Lipan Apache, Tonkowa, Karankawa and
though not mentioned, the Quahadi and Yamparica Comanche. Their descendants
today do not know they are the oldest native and true Texans and Tejanos.

    The individuals and families of European ancestry who settled Texas
between 1690 and 1821 were of two distinct categories. The earliest and
more numerous settlers were the españoles of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and
Tamaulipas.  They were of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Sephardic Jewish
and Basque ancestry.  Some were sincere converts to Catholicism while many
were Crypto Jews who observed the Hebrew Faith in secret.  Without Rabbis,
yeshivas (school of religious instruction), living in a hostile environment
intolerance, the vast majority became Christians of various degrees of
sincerity.  Many can best be described as "Catholics by culture", or
mono-theistic and anti-clerical, anti-organized religion.

    The 15 families from the Canary Islands who in 1731 founded civilian
Villa San Fernando de Bexar (now San Antonio, Texas) were the only non
American Continent born settlers of Texas. Since the 1500's the seven
Canary Islands had been populated by Crypto Jews and conversos (New
Christians) of Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Sephardic ancestry. The 15
families, totaling 59 individuals who founded San Antonio were not required
to prove Old Christian ancestry in migrating to the New World and the
Inquisition which never really took hold in the Canaries never operated in
Spanish colonial Texas!

    The third category of founding Tejanos during the Spanish Colonial
period were the mestizos (child of American continent born European
ancestry father and Native American mother and castizos (child of Native
American father and American Continent born European ancestry mother). The
vast majority of mestizos and castizos were of Tlaxcaltecan and American
Continent born European ancestry parents.  The Tlaxcaltecans had settled in
1559 at San Esteban de Tlaxcala, a suburb of Saltillo, Coahuila. Considered
full fledged members of Spanish North American society, they intermarried
freely with the American Continent born European, local Coahuiltecan and
free Blacks families. Their descendants were among the third founding of
Monclova, Coahuila in 1688, Bexar in 1716 - 1718, Nacogdoches and Goliad in

           The fourth category of Spanish Colonial settlers of Texas were
called "castas". That is, they were children of mixed marriages broken down
into 28 categories.  The most common castas in Texas were mulattos and
coyotes (child of a Black or mulatto and Native American parents).  Spanish
Colonial baptismal and marriage records (more than burial) as well as
census records, always indicated which casta a person belonged to.

    Regardless of the ethnic, racial background of the Spanish Colonial
settlers of Texas, it is imperative to note hey and their descendants have
resided in Texas since before the creation of the United States (1776) or
Mexico (1821).  In other words, neither they nor their ancestors, like the
non-mission Indians who were socially declared "Mexican" by culture and not
citizenship, never crossed the border between Mexico and the United States.
  They are the oldest residents of contemporary Texas.

    The anti-Mexican propaganda of the 1835-36 Texas revolution that
continued in anticipation of the Mexican War (1846-48) fanned by Manifest
Destiny and the desire by the U. S. to acquire all of Mexico, caused the
displacement of many Tejano families. The Tejano population of Nacogdoches
and Goliad as well as the land owners in the Nueces Strip were forced from
their homes and land grants by land speculators and anti-Mexican,
anti-Catholic U. S. migrants. Many families who had settled in Texas in the
1700's suddenly found themselves declared unwanted "enemies of the state"
and forced to migrate to the Mexican abutting states of Nuevo Leon,
Coahuila and Tamaulipas. Under threat of death, they abandoned their
ancient Spanish or Mexican land grants or at best forced to sell their land
at gunpoint.  Still a number stayed in and around San Antonio where they
went from the ruling class to the discriminated, segregated labor class.
  The few who cooperated and served the recently arrived managed to survive
as middle men between the remaining Tejanos and now ruling anti-Mexican,
anti-Catholic U. S. immigrants.  The social, economic, ethnic, religious
separation would exist until the end of World War II.

End ......................... End ........................ end .... End

Zavala County Sentinel          2 - 3 May 2012


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