Chicano History

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The Chicano Movement ushered in a new era. It was a time when young people from ethnic and mainstream groups in various parts of the country sought to express their hopes for the country. In the history of the U.S., no other era embodies the rise of youthful self-conscious idealism.


The positive significance of the Southwest can be explained by the fact that the present states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas were at one time Mexican territory. Mexico inherited this vast territory when it acquired its independence from Spain in 18211. Furthermore, these Southwest Mexicans never acquired a strong link to Mexico. Mexicans in some of these regions, in New Mexico primarily, maintained a strong link with their past and a heritage that they traced to the Southwest and to colonial New Spain. Mainstream society promoted a separate identification of Mexicans, even as they were being incorporated into the Union. The positive impact was that Chicano were the only national groups which kept Spanish language traditions in the U.S. territory. Spanish authorities and officials established written traditions in this land before the first English colonies penetrated this region. Also, they established Spanish as an official language and provided education on Spanish2. Churches and church schools were also crucial vehicles in preserving Spanish. In the nineteenth century, when Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy took control of the Catholic Church in New Mexico, he attempted to wrest control away from local Hispanic leaders; nonetheless, he had to allow the use of Spanish in Catholic schools. ...
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