Border Citizens

Border Citizens

ERIC V. MEEKS
Copyright Date: 2007
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/716988
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    Border Citizens
    Book Description:

    Borders cut through not just places but also relationships, politics, economics, and cultures. Eric V. Meeks examines how ethno-racial categories and identities such as Indian, Mexican, and Anglo crystallized in Arizona's borderlands between 1880 and 1980. South-central Arizona is home to many ethnic groups, including Mexican Americans, Mexican immigrants, and semi-Hispanicized indigenous groups such as Yaquis and Tohono O'odham. Kinship and cultural ties between these diverse groups were altered and ethnic boundaries were deepened by the influx of Euro-Americans, the development of an industrial economy, and incorporation into the U.S. nation-state.

    Old ethnic and interethnic ties changed and became more difficult to sustain when Euro-Americans arrived in the region and imposed ideologies and government policies that constructed starker racial boundaries. As Arizona began to take its place in the national economy of the United States, primarily through mining and industrial agriculture, ethnic Mexican and Native American communities struggled to define their own identities. They sometimes stressed their status as the region's original inhabitants, sometimes as workers, sometimes as U.S. citizens, and sometimes as members of their own separate nations. In the process, they often challenged the racial order imposed on them by the dominant class.

    Appealing to broad audiences, this book links the construction of racial categories and ethnic identities to the larger process of nation-state building along the U.S.-Mexico border, and illustrates how ethnicity can both bring people together and drive them apart.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79499-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the mid-1960s a group of Yaquis in the Tucson barrio called Pascua took the first steps toward seeking federal acknowledgment of their status as American Indians. In part they hoped to obtain access to federal resources and an area of land outside the city. Since World War II, Tucson’s warehouse district had enveloped Pascua, and the mechanization of agriculture had dramatically reduced the number of jobs on nearby industrial farms. Pascua residents lived in poverty, with dilapidated housing and worn-out and insufficient infrastructure. Catholic Yaquis also complained about excessive interference by local Protestant missionaries. They hoped that by moving...

  6. CHAPTER 1 DESERT EMPIRE
    (pp. 15-43)

    Shortly after the Mesilla Treaty (also called the Gadsden Purchase) transferred what would become southern Arizona from Mexico to the United States in the mid-1850s, hundreds of Americans moved into the territory to improve their fortunes.¹ Among them was Sylvester Mowry, a lieutenant in the army. Mowry was stationed at Fort Yuma when he began to dream about the potential that the new territory held for would-be entrepreneurs like himself. After resigning his commission in 1858, he began to prospect for gold and silver. He also served as a special commissioner in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA),² with instructions...

  7. CHAPTER 2 FROM NOBLE SAVAGE TO SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN
    (pp. 44-70)

    In the 1880s the government of the United States reformed its well-worn policy of concentrating Indians onto reservations into a new campaign designed to assimilate them into the nation. Federal officials allotted reservation lands for private property and strove to educate and detribalize Indians in government schools, to integrate them economically as farmers, ranchers, and wageworkers, and to pave the way for them to become citizens.¹ BIA officials in Arizona soon discovered, however, that federal policies had to be revised to meet regional conditions, such as the aridity of the Sonoran desert, the labor demands of cotton growers and other...

  8. CHAPTER 3 CROSSING BORDERS
    (pp. 71-97)

    Rosalio Moisés Valenzuela and his older sister, Antonia, both of them Yaquis, were born in Colorada, Sonora, where their father worked as a miner in the mid-1890s. Their parents and grandparents had fled the Yaqui River to escape the ongoing war with the Mexican army. In his memoirs Rosalio recalled how ʺmany friends and relatives from the Rio Yaqui worked in the Colorada and Suviete mines or at the Minas Prietas five miles away where they dug for graphite.ʺ Most of the boys and men over the age of ten worked for eight pesos a day for eight-hour shifts, which...

  9. CHAPTER 4 DEFINING THE WHITE CITIZEN-WORKER
    (pp. 98-126)

    As the Great Depression descended on south-central Arizona in June 1930, the Arizona State Federation of Labor (ASFL) called for new restrictions on Mexican immigration to protect ʺwhite citizen-workers of Arizona and other Southwestern states.ʺ¹ Such explicitly racial calls for shutting the border were nothing new, dating back to the early part of the century. Arizonaʹs trade unions had long conflated national identity with race, usingwhiteandAmerican citizeninterchangeably. From the time Arizona became a state, many native Anglo, Irish, and Cornish Americans fought to restrict full citizenship rights to white Americans and English speakers. They lobbied for...

  10. CHAPTER 5 THE INDIAN NEW DEAL AND THE POLITICS OF THE TRIBE
    (pp. 127-154)

    In 1902 Peter Blaine was born to a Tohono Oʹodham mother and a mestizo father (part Oʹodham) in South Tucson. In the early years of his life, his mother, like many other urban Oʹodham women, supported her family by cleaning houses. When Blaine was six his mother died, and he moved into the home of his aunt Josefa and her husband, a Yaqui. He grew up speaking both Yaqui and Spanish, only later becoming fluent in the Oʹodham language his mother had spoken. In his memoir he recalled the neighborhood he was born in thus: ʺIn the scattered houses, not...

  11. CHAPTER 6 SHADOWS IN THE SUN BELT
    (pp. 155-179)

    Phoenix Mayor Samuel Mardian Jr. testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1962 that ethnic minorities in Phoenix faced little or no discriminatory treatment. ʺIndians are not discriminated against in employment, services, or housing,ʺ he said, and offered an even more sanguine assessment of Mexican-American prospects: ʺThese people hold high positions in the city government, in industry, and in the professions.ʺ To prove the point he noted that one Mexican American held a seat on the Phoenix City Council and that others had recently been elected to the state legislature. Only when discussing the status of the growing...

  12. CHAPTER 7 THE CHICANO MOVEMENT AND CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP
    (pp. 180-210)

    At the end of World War II, Mario Suárez returned from serving in the U.S. Navy to find that the barrios of Tucson where he had been born and raised had barely changed. In a short story he wrote in 1947, Suárez compared the El Hoyo barrio tocapirotada, a traditional Mexican dish made with a base of ʺold, new, stale, and hard bread.ʺ One could add any number of ingredients, including ʺraisins, olives, onions, tomatoes, peanuts, cheese, and general leftovers,ʺ and then season it with ʺsalt, sugar, pepper, and sometimes chili or tomato sauce.ʺ The dish would be topped...

  13. CHAPTER 8 VILLAGES, TRIBES, AND NATIONS
    (pp. 211-240)

    An editorial in theArizona Daily Starin 1960 proved that old notions about Indians being incapable of full and equal citizenship were alive and well. Pointing to factionalism on the Tohono Oʹodham reservations, the writer suggested that Anglo-Arizonans, ʺwho have had the job of working with warring Indian Tribes and more recently working with the reservation Indians, should have some idea of what a task it is to change primitive people into modern citizens.ʺ The editorial ignored the considerable factionalism among non-Indians and the fact that recent tensions on the reservations were largely the outgrowth of new and unfamiliar...

  14. CONCLUSION. Borders Old and New
    (pp. 241-248)

    Vivian Juan-Saunders and Herminia Frías, chairwomen of the Tohono Oʹodham and Yaqui nations in Arizona, traveled to Sarmiento, Mexico, in November 2004 to participate in the Ninth Annual Assembly of Indigenous Women. There they met up with Oʹodham and Yaquis from Mexico, along with other indigenous peoples from Arizona, California, Sonora, and Sinaloa, to discuss their future. The meeting was remarkable in a number of ways. First, that both leaders were there to represent their respective indigenous nations reveals how much their political cultures had changed since the nineteenth century, when individual villages were considered autonomous and the idea of...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 249-300)
  16. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 301-312)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 313-326)