Friday, January 13, 2017

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

map from wikipedia; cool map isn't it?

map from wikipedia commons also; this one shows the rio grande as the border; we were in "texas"...

Why am I bringing this up now? I was in a history class today and happened to open up a History of New Mexico book; it mentioned this treaty in passing. I remembered it from a claim in a book, Language Loyalty, that as part of this treaty, we had promised Mexican families, who had been in New Mexico forever, the right to keep their language and culture, and property, as part of becoming US citizens. They were also offered a fast track to citizenship, which was a big deal in those days, as many blacks who had come from the South still didn't have it; and, a number of immigrants from other places, most notably the Irish potato-famine refugees, were having a hard time with it as well. Citizenship was a valuable thing (and still is).

But the point was, they'd been here forever. They'd gotten here well before the Anglos. They owned and ranched on land, mostly around Santa Fe and Taos, but also in other directions around Albuquerque and those areas where farming and ranching were profitable.

Now as it turns out, as you can see above, Cloudcroft was part of Texas at the time, and this treaty in fact dealt with everything that wasn't Texas, namely west of the Rio Grande, Arizona, etc. There was also a little bottom strip that was apparently bought later; I'm still not clear about all these details.

There is no doubt that various parts of the treaty were broken. The land issue was probably the most severe. The Mexican system of land ownership included the idea that they all knew each other; they had been there for generations; there was no need to write down in deeds, information that people knew well. The Anglo system, on the other hand, was more like, if it's not written down, I can have it, or at least I can buy it from someone who writes deeds in courthouses. And then if I have the paper, it's mine. Some of these families are still fighting for land that they feel was taken from them in the aftermath of the treaty and the making of the territory a part of the US.

90% of the Mexican settlers in the area (and now we're talking western NM, really, along with the rest of what the treaty covered) agreed to become American citizens. This was presumably because they believed their life would go on as before, only with more benefits to them. I haven't found this "promise" (to maintain their language and culture) in any treaty. It was presumably understood. There was no mass exodus back to Mexico. Life went on as it always was. They were the majority, and always had been, and still are, almost at least, until today.

Whether they could live their life, speak in Spanish, have Spanish customs, etc., really depended on a lot more things besides a treaty. You are talking about places where everyone speaks Spanish for everything, anyway. Families speak Spanish to each other. They go to the store and speak Spanish. When they vote, the ballot is partly in Spanish. School, however, is no longer in Spanish. I'm not sure how that happened. Somewhere along the line, especially on the Arizona side of the line, this became an Anglo territory.

What happened in our part of the state, Texas, I think, had a few more turns of the wheel. When Texas became a nation, we were in it (I think). More about that later. I'm still doing my research.

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