One of the things that I feel very strongly about is that Chicanos and Chicanas have more to be “American” about (in a historical sense), than most U.S. citizens, with the exception possibly of our identifiable indigenous peoples in the U.S. And in as much as this may sound self-serving, but when it comes to the study of Chicanos/as (and their descendants) today in the U.S., there is not enough teaching in our schools today about how Chicanos/as came to be as a people. As a case in point, take the question as to whether or not we can call Chicanos and Chicanas what I call, like “Land Grant Babies” The answer to that question is a complicated, and the answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” You see, trying to find out what happened to the land grants of persons living in the Southwest both prior to and after the War between the U.S. and Mexico in 1848 is a legal quagmire. Let me elaborate as to why.
In a brief five page article written by Dr. Refugio I. Rochin for the Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas (Vol. V, No. 1 Spring 1998, pp 141-146), he points out some points to consider in the article entitled “Reflecting on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Border it Established.” For example, he states as follows:
“Most Americans have never heard of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, yet it is one of the most significant treaties in the annals of U.S. History. Signed on February 2, 1848, more than 150 years ago, the Treaty served to end the United States-Mexican War, a war declared against Mexico by the U.S. Congress on April 23, L846. As winners of the War, the United States took from Mexico the land areas of Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and half of Colorado, representing nearly fifty percent of Mexico’s former territory. In return for this huge estate, the United States paid $15 million dollars, a token payment. The Treaty also defined the border between the United States and Mexico, a border which has remained mostly the same with the exception of the Gadsden Purchase (called the Treaty with Mexico of December 30, 1853) and the purchase of the Chamizal land between Mexico and Texas.”
In reference to the above, Rochin, also poses two questions: a) ‘If the Treaty is so important, then why isn’t it emphasized in courses of American history?’” as well and, b) “Historically we ask, was the Treaty meant to be meaningless after being signed by Mexico and the U.S. in 1848?” (Ibid. P. 141) Added to those questions, I ask another question: Do we seriously think that the groups like Texas Board of Education Textbook Selection Committee are really going to want children of Mexican descent in grades K-12 in Texas to learn about the past history of their Chicano ancestors? I leave it to your judgement. Just look at the absence of content about the Treaty in Texas school books today in Texas. And consider also the fact that the University of Texas system in Texas shies away from using terms like Chicano/a Studies Programs—so does the Texas A&M system, and the Texas University System as well all of their campuses throughout the entire state. WHY? Are the words “Chicano” and “Chicana” TABU?! (And why are Mexican American faculty at those campuses so hush-hush when referring to persons of Mexican descent as Chicano or Chicana—why is that?—Are they scared they are not going to get tenure?)
Another example of what can happen pertaining to Chicano Studies in K-12 schools is what happened with the State of Arizona in the case of Arce vs State of Arizona in which the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) did not like certain content taught to Mexican American students in their schools. According to an amicus curia brief submitted by Dr. Rudy Acuña et al, for example, at least “seven books that the State deemed ‘racist propaganda’ were physically removed from TUSD Mexican American Studies classrooms. These books, several of which were authored by the amici, included: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic; Occupied America, by Rodolfo Acuña; Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson; Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, edited by Antonio Esquibel; Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, by F. Arturo Rosales; and 500 Años del Pueblo Chicano (500 Years of Chicano History) in Pictures, edited by Elizabeth Martínez.” So what do you think? Source: http://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=korematsu_center.
Another example of the lack of teaching our Chicano/a children about their Chicano History in the public schools, curriculum advocate Arnulfo Hernandez from California has told me that “There has been an adverse impact on Mexican American/Chicano students in California. The non-participation and disconnectedness of our students from school are significantly impacted by the non-existence of Mexican American/Chicano history in the K-12 textbooks and curriculum in California, and by extension, in the United States. And it should be noted, that California and Texas carry the most weight in the decision-making process (nationwide) with regard to the content of our K-12 textbooks in the country.
So the thing that I am trying to do with this article, and in view of the above, is to expand and increase awareness and understanding of the variety of issues pertaining to land grants and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (because they cannot always be considered separately). You see, we need to keep on increasing education and enlightenment about this very important topic (land grants) to Spanish-surnamed peoples in America, especially for Chicanos and Chicanas from all of the 10 states impacted by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
In reference to Dr. Rochin’s aforementioned article (Ibid.), he also states the following in Page 143: “Within months of the Treaty’s signing, however, signs of American reneging became apparent…before long the Treaty began to seem more like a continuation of Manifest Destiny in perpetuity against Mexico. The United States sent clear signs of reversing its promise. First, Congress took nearly four months to ratify the act, from February 2, L848 to May 30, l-848. During this period both Mexican and United States representatives deliberated over the articles and made significant changes, which Mexico accepted only after a protocol was drafted. According to one of the foremost analyst of this period, Richard Griswold del Castillo, the protocol was ignored by the United States in later years. Unfortunately for Mexicans caught in the United States territories, the Treaty that was first signed was not the same treaty eventually ratified by the United States and Mexico on May 30, 1848. During the period of ratification, paragraphs that did not suit certain U.S. Senators and President Polk, were simply deleted or re-phrased without careful consideration of Mexican concerns.”
Herein, therefore, I am sending you a link available on the Internet for you to see a copy of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. For any of our readers who want to see a copy of the Treaty and read the actual text of the Treaty, you can go to the Documents Page on www.latinopia.com following link: http://margaritojgarcia.blogspot.com/2015/10/margarito-j-garcia-iii-phd-treaty-of.html. I also am providing you with information about a book by Griswold del Castillo about of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Dr. Rochin additionally states “With regard to our interest in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, there is much to be learned.” He also recommends that persons read a book by Richard Griswold Del Castillo entitled, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict (Sept. 15, 1992). According to Rochin, Signed in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war between the United States and Mexico and gave a large portion of Mexico’s northern territories to the United States. The language of the treaty was designed to deal fairly with the Spanish-surnamed people who became residents of the United States by default. However, as Richard Griswold del Castillo points out, articles calling for equality and protection of civil and property rights were either ignored or interpreted to favor those involved in the westward expansion of the United States rather than the persons of Mexican descent and Indians living in the conquered territories. It is important to know also that the ten states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, as well as parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma were formed in whole or in part by the Treaty.
The brief introduction by Amazon.com seems to indicate that there were two unknowns about what happened after the Treaty was finalized, these unknowns are: a) did the treaty deal fairly with the people (of Mexican descent, i.e., Chicanos) who became residents of the U.S.?, and b) was there equality and protection of civil and property rights or not for persons of Mexican descent and Indians in the conquered territories? As such, these questions, point to the importance of an accurate study of the history of Chicanos and Chicanas in the U.S. since the final ratification of the Treaty. Furthermore, it begs the additional question: What are Chicano Studies Programs doing in your state to answer questions a) and b) above? Do you know?
If anyone wants to know what some readers thought about the above-mentioned book by Griswold del Castillo, there are five brief customer reviews of the book at Amazon.com; they are as follows:
Reviewer No. 1: This useful book offers more than its title implies. Instead of being a dry legal analysis of a treaty, it offers a different way of looking at the history of Mexican-American relations. The author provides a compact review of events before, during, and after the Mexican-American war. In addition, the book provides a capsule review of attempts by Chicanos to seek the reversal of past injustices through the courts and by means of political action. The clearly written text is supplemented with five maps and four figures. Submitted by Michael Michaud, Vienna, Austria.
Reviewer No. 2: In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed by the United States and Mexico. This treaty ended the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and forced Mexico to cede most of what is now considered the American Southwest (including the present day states of New Mexico, Arizona, and California). Castillo examines the historical legacy of the treaty, pointing out in great detail the ramifications from the treaty – a legacy of conflict between the United States and Mexico. Castillo explains how the treaty, from the point of ratification and adoption to the present day, has been used as the basis for disputes over land rights, citizenship, and even water rights in the American Southwest…I especially enjoyed Castillo’s references to the land struggles and court battles in chapter 6, which I thought was the most important chapter of the book, especially given the fact that article X of the treaty (addressing land rights for former Mexican citizens in the area ceded by Mexico) was stricken from the treaty during the ratification process. Submitted by Eric Hobart.
Review No. 3: Richard Griswold Del Castillo’s work is beneficial for a probing and well-rounded study into the Mexican War and the Treaty that followed. This book has great content. Castillo knows the Treaty and the debates surrounding the Treaty inside and out. Also, he is able to inform the reader of unresolved issues still relevant today for a treaty that was signed over 150 years ago. Nevertheless, he is looking for a specific outcome for his analysis. Castillo condemns the United States for its unfair treatment of Mexico and former Mexican citizens. However, much of his argument is based on Article X of the Treaty and the Protocol of Queretaro. Neither document was endorsed, nor supported, by the United States. He acknowledges that, yet still attacks the United States for not abiding by both of them. It’s an angry look at the United States which portrays Mexico as an innocent victim in the conflict in 1846, and the United States as a selfish, evil empire forever after. Submitted by Community Christian College Professor.
Review No. 4: An excellent informative on a very shameful episode in our nation’s history. It was a treaty that was broken before the ink was even dry on the document and that violation still haunts us today. Many will say that it is an ant-U.S. viewpoint, but how is that conclusion not possible with the dirt that the U.S. did to Mexico after stealing half of its territory? Submitted by John Wright.
Review No. 5: This is a pretty basic documentation of some of the events leading to and after the forced annexation of land from Mexico to the United States, after a ‘war’ that attempted to justify it. A good study about how the ‘law’ was used in the United States to justify things like thievery, thuggery, piracy, and other lawless activities. Submitted by Scott.
Dr. Rochin additionally recommends consideration of the following: “Caveats from Earl Shorris,” author of Latinos: A Biography of the People, (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1992).
“First,” according to Shorris, “Any history of Latinos stumbles at the start, for there is no single line to trace back to its ultimate origin.”
This statement reminds us that the historic origins of Hispanics and Latinos have many roots and branches. As such, the issue of our identity depends a lot on where our story begins and our knowledge of that history.
Second, according to Shorris: “Latino history has become a confused and painful algebra of race, culture, and conquest, it has less to do with evidence than with politics, for whoever owns the beginning has dignity, whoever owns the beginning owns the world.” Shorris reminds us that speeches are assertions of pride and essentially political, i.e., presented with a desire to persuade and convince of a particular viewpoint or position about Latinos and Hispanics. He is correct about “dignity” and it is clearly important to show the historic “firsts” of U.S. Latinos.
Third, according to the rules of conquest, the blood of the conquered dominates, but the rules are not profound, they are written on the skin.
Shorris reminds us that every version of history has its adherents…“If people are brown, “multi-racial” – what part of their racial make-up dominates their history?” Do Latinos relate their identity to race and racial treatment? Are brown people more white oriented than black? What’s “written on the skin,” of Latinos? If, for example, a Latino appears to be European, what history will they choose? Will the history be of the “dignified” or the “conquered?”
Finally, recall that times of the past and present have very different contexts. “The past provides a point of reference but not necessarily a cause of particular actions today.”
A case in point that exemplifies that there is an interest in the Treaty even into today, is that on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, the Texas Alliance of Land Grant Descendants held their meeting at the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. Might you be a descendant of any land grants? At that gathering, Ashley Morales, with the University of Texas at Pan American, Edinburg, spoke on “developing an academic initiative for introducing millennial students to the heretofore blighted side of Early Texas History. A History which shielded the pain and suffering experienced by Early Texas Settlers of the Nueces Strip who were forcefully removed from their lands and livelihoods. A part of Texas History which remains untold and little known to contemporary students.”
I am grateful and thankful to Dr. Refugio I. Rochin for his generous contributions and insights into the study and research on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. I hope that you will find the above-cited references useful for your interest in this very important chapter in the history of Chicanos and Chicanas in the U.S.
Copyright 2015 by Margarito J. Garcia III, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Selections from Amazon review of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A legacy of Conflict used under the “fair use” proviso of the copyright law.