The ethnic heritage of Mexican nationals is primarily defined by a mix of European and Native American (as in native to the American continent) origins, thus providing a tie between those of Mexican descent and those of Native American descent (Gutierrez, 1999, p. 7). In an examination of Mexican Americans and Paiute Native Americans in Nevada, an interesting comparison can be made between cultures and heritage.
The Mexican American population comprised 73% of the Latino population in the year 2000, and by 2006 increased to 78% (Timko, 2007). The Mexican American population makes up 14.3% of the total population of Nevada and in 1998 over 1 million businesses in Nevada were owned by Mexican Americans (Stacy, 2003, p. 583). According to Miranda (1997), the Mexican American population in Nevada is not oppressed by the same kind of discrimination that other border states tend to assert over their Mexican American populations (Nevada is not directly on the border, but within very close proximity). While this may have shifted a bit since the rise in the last ten years of immigration buzz word politics, the cultural acceptance of the Mexican American populations most likely has remained at the core of the way in which Nevada determines its position.
There is an economic connection that is very strong between Nevada and Mexico. In 2001 Mexico imported the second largest number of goods produced in Nevada, thus tying the success of the state to the economic stability of Mexico. Nevada exports electrical equipment, lime, salt, plaster, and cement to Mexico as a result of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) from 1994 (Stacy, 2003, p. 583). In the 1990’s there was a significant increase, however, of immigrants from Mexico into Nevada due to the economic downturn of 1991, thus creating a trend of an increasing population that has continued into the 21st century (Miranda, 1997, p. 209).
There was a time