Mexican American Culture

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Mexicans have lived in the Pacific Northwest since the 1850s. They continued to come to the region for mining and ranching opportunities through the latter half of the nineteenth century. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, political and economic conditions in Mexico that resulted from revolution and the repressive policies of President Porfirio Diaz pushed many out of Mexico to go north. Agricultural and railroad expansion and labor shortages in the United States also pulled thousands of Mexicans from their homeland to the Southwest and to other regions of the United States. Mexican American communities in the Columbia River Basin began to grow dramatically beginning in the early 1940s. World War II agricultural labor shortages…show more content…
“Escuelitas” (little schools), community cultural centers, artists, and dance and theater groups sprouted to give direction to the cultural renaissance. “La Escuelita” was founded in Granger, Washington in 1969, and the same year in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Centro Chicano Cultural was organized near Woodburn. In 1972 in Caldwell, Idaho, Mexican American families organized FAMA (Familias Mexico Americanas) to promote the preservation of Mexican American culture. These groups stressed the need to preserve the Spanish language, to study Mexican history, and to present Mexican and Mexican American cultural traditions. In turn, theater groups such as El Teatro del Piojo (theater of lice) sought to promote awareness of social issues affecting Mexican Americans in the Pacific…show more content…
Since 1970 record numbers of Mexicans have entered the United States, and many of these have entered without legal documentation. They have joined Mexican Americans in established communities such as Sunnyside in Washington’s Yakima Valley, Woodburn in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and Caldwell in western Idaho, and constitute the majority in some small rural communities such as Wapato, Washington. They are also settling in urban and remote, isolated areas previously unpopulated by Mexicans or Mexican Americans. Prior to 1970, a small population, low levels of education, and discrimination kept Mexican Americans from any meaningful political participation in the communities where they resided. Mexican Americans and Mexicans will continue to shape politics and culture in the Columbia River Basin as more of them become U.S. citizens and more second-generation descendants obtain an education, vote, develop businesses, and contribute to the cultural life of the

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