LatinaLista — It’s become cliché to say that “American history is Latino history,” but for anyone who really doesn’t know the extent Latinos have played in building the United States then a new study released by the National Parks Service, American Latinos and the Making of the United States: A Theme Study will be an eye-opener.
In 2011, ten academics were issued an invitation (or challenge, depending on your viewpoint) by former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to construct a document citing historic examples of how American Latinos have been an integral part of the “history, culture, and politics” of the United States.
Organized under four major sub-headings: Making the Nation, Making a Life, Making a Living and Making a Democracy, the study purposely focuses on the period from the mid-19th century to the present. The researchers of the study felt that not enough was known by the general public on ‘recent’ Latino contributions.
Sixteen essays covering such topics as immigration, sports, arts, food, religion, science, military and “new Latinos” comprise the first primer on the contributions and historical place of Latinos in the United States.
Latinos have resided in North America since before the arrival of northern Europeans at Jamestown and Plymouth. They already lived in lands that became English colonies and later the states of the early American Republic. Of course, their largest populations dwelled in what became the southern and western U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, most of which would be conquered and/or bought by the expanding U.S. during the second half of the 19th century. Whether before or after their incorporation into U.S. territory, the people that would in the future be called “Latinos” or “Hispanics” had a rich intellectual history, having introduced the first written European language, book culture, and universities to the hemisphere. They pondered and wrote about all of the cultural and scientific themes that we think of as part of the occidental tradition. They continued this rich intellectual tradition in the lands that became part of the U.S. — Envisioning and Re-visioning the Nation: Latino Intellectual Traditions — Nicolás Kanellos