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Homelands divided

They will continue to communicate on a regular basis. In the new light of budding friendships, the notion of an arbitrarily drawn political border separating them cannot be so fixed as it once was. This has to bode well for the future — on both sides of the border. After four days, the visit concludes in an outpouring of hugs and handshakes and souvenirs.


The Arizona partners reluctantly climb into their vans and roll out of Santa Ana with a lengthy, noisy procession behind them. A few carloads of Mexican students speed past the vans and disappear down the highway. Several minutes later, they appear again, now parked on a dust-choked, blazing shoulder, waving, honking, saying a last good-bye to their new friends — until next time. The following essay is reprinted with permission from the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Living in the geographical area where the United States and Mexico meet, the truth is always present. Beneath every action lies the context of border life. And one must see that undergirding for what it is: the pain and sorrow of daily reminders that here disease runs rampant, here drug crimes take a daily toll, here infant mortality rates run as high or higher than those in Third World countries, here one cannot drink the water, and here, this land that is our land — and has been our land for generations — is not really ours. But one must also see border life in the context of its joys, its continuous healing, and its celebration of a life and culture that survives against all odds.

For to do otherwise condemns us to falling into the vortex of pessimism and anomie where so many already dwell. Chicana novelist Gloria Anzaldua speaks of this same terrain, this same geography, but her words are hers; they are not mine, not ours, not those of everyone living along the border. The Aztec pantheon didn't really rule these northern lands, and the norteno personality, customs, rites, and language are testament to that other native culture, now all but gone, which survives in vestiges sometimes as vague as an image in the sand, on the wall of a cave, or in the lexicon and intonation of a border native's speech.

These lands have always harbored transients, people moving sometimes north, sometimes south. Like birds making their annual trek, migrant workers board up their homes and pack things in trucks, and off they go with the local priests blessing. In Laredo, in Eagle Pass, and elsewhere, the matachines celebrate on May 3, December 12, or another significant date, and as they congregate to dance in honor of the holy cross, the Virgen de Guadalupe, or other local devotions, they remember other lands and other times. Spanish and English languages both change along the border: Manachis are flour tortilla tacos in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo and within a fifty-mile radius of the area; the "calo" slang of the "batos locos," lowriders, "cholos," or "pachucos" maintains its literary quality in its excessive use of metaphor all along the stretch, yet changes from community to community, just as the names for food even the foods themselves, change.

Differences have been there since the settlement of the borderlands in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the changes brought upon the border culture have occurred over the span of more than three hundred years; yet there are other changes as well, ongoing changes that will alter the very fabric of borderlands culture. The collusion of a myriad of cultures, not just Mexican and U. It is a culture forever in transition, changing visibly from year to year. The population increases in number and variety, as Koreans, Indians, and other peoples of non-European non-indigenous, and non-Mestizo origin flow into the region.

Because of such an influx, it also changes environmentally, economically, and even in style. The same river is a political boundary between nation-states, but people on both sides of the river retain the customs of the settlers from Spain and from central Mexico along with those of the original inhabitants, which they have inherited and adapted to their particular needs.

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Newcomers integrate their ways into the existing culture, but the old ones remain. Intriguing syncretisms occur. Weddings, for example, integrate traditional "Mexican" customs such as the Arabic arras marriage coins and the Native lazo bonding cord along with the German-style polka or conjunto music and brindis toast. An infant's baptism becomes an occasion for godparents to exchange prayers, an indigenous form encapsulated in a European logic. Conversely, a "quinceanera" young woman's fifteenth birthday becomes the modern-day puberty rite of a community.

In local dance halls, dancers engage in weekly rites as culturally choreographed as those of the Catholic pilgrimages to santuarios from California to Texas; both customs embody forms and values that endure from times before European contact. Gloria Anzaldua says that "The U. First shaped by the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that cut the area in two, the wound has continuously bled, as politics, economics, and most recently environmental pollution exacerbate the laceration.

If some healing occurs and a scab barely forms, a new blow strikes, such as the economic blow struck by the Mexican devaluation. Ours is a history of conflict and resolution, of growth and devastation, of battles won and lost in conflicts not always of our making.

Often these contradictory outcomes issue from the same set of historical events, like the development of the maquiladora industry, which provides jobs even as it renders the river's waters "a veritable cesspool" The Laredo Morning Times, The inhabitants of the borderlands live in the consequences of this history, in the bleeding that never stops. Those of us who inhabit this land must live with daily human rights violations, contrasting worldviews, two forms of currency, and different "ways of doing things" that in some cases make life easier but in others nearly intolerable.

Immigration and emigration have shaped the borderlands. The exodus of Texas border natives to the metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio or to California or the Midwest during the s was due in large measure to the depressed local economy.

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But, as immigration to the north occurred, emigration from Mexico into the area continued. The unemployment rates often hovered around the teens and did not noticeably decrease, in spite of large numbers of families relocating elsewhere, settling out of the migrant labor stream in industrialized areas such as Chicago or going to work in other areas of Texas. In the s and s, some of these same people, now retiring from steel mills in Illinois or factories in Detroit, returned as retirees and settled in the South Texas border communities they moved from forty years ago.

Mexican-American War: 1846-48

For many, like my mother's cousins who moved away and worked for Bethlehem Steel, Christmas and summer vacation were times to visit relatives on the border; these days, it is their children who make the trip down south to visit them. Sign In Wish List 0 Help. From the creation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in to the present day, the central authorities of the United States and Mexico have struggled with their local border communities.

This arbitrary border is imperceptible to those living alongside it, and is only brought into focus by the laws and regulations of the United States and Mexico.

Remembering history in Pueblo: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

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For Native Americans, U.S.-Mexico border is an 'imaginary line'

Timothy J. Caught up in a wave of terror in- creased by the presence of vigilante groups are indigenous groups who SPRING 20 0 5 live along the border or who regularly cross the border to participate in ceremonies or to visit family members. All weekend helicopters were buzzing in the air locating group after group of illegal intruders. What is even more surprising is that fringe groups are not alone in cautioning the United States about an impending takeover by Mexico.

In other words, the United States created the border in vio- lence and has maintained and regulated it through violence. Imagination is one of the most powerful tools in the move to decolonize, and Silko imagines the power of indigenous peoples to change the Southwest from a militarized and surveilled region to one where borders no longer exist.

Her imagined army contains exploited and subjugated individuals from both sides of the border, and they surpass anything that Simcox, Spenser, or Weinberger ever envisioned. Inspired by the uprising in Chiapas, she also imagines R E V I E W the possibilities for cultural and political alliances between peoples. Indigenous peoples on both sides of the border recognize that the United States and Mexico divided their homelands, their communities, S A and their families without their knowledge, much less their consent, W I C A Z O and Silko reframes this knowledge to resist the categories in which the border region has placed her and others like her.

We are here before maps or quit claims. We know where we belong on this earth. In response, U. According to the U. She also portrays this new migration as a move toward healing and reconciling lands and communities that national borders have tried to keep apart.

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Silko notes that migrations were equally important to indigenous communities living south of the border, all the way down to SPRING 20 0 5 Mexico City. Secretary of State, U. August—October : Wald, U. Rusk, U. Dulles, U. Guadalupe Hidalgo. Roediger, Wages —19; Anthony C. In , in Foley v.

Trump's Border Wall Would Separate Native American Communities - Pacific Standard

Connelie, the U. In , Sanford, 60 U. Smuggling Penalties, and Asy- Wilkins, U. None of these acts explicitly linked disloyalty to race. The people of color, all other people Internal Security Act of pro- of color are vulnerable to a scape- vided for the exclusion of aliens goating backlash. In Chae Chan Ping v.

United States, U. Anglo- Saxon Americans.

U.S. International Borders: Brief Facts

He asked me where my tainment Law Journal 2, no. I told him that I ter He told me that www. We were at an im- passe. Briggs and John R. Washington Post, August 16, , C Charles L.