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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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The Churro And The Pastor: Sheep Herdings In New Mexico
Program #
Culture, Identity

Richard Goodman
Richard Goodman
Dec 22, 1976

The Churro and the Pastor: Sheep Herdings in New Mexico

Goodman then discusses the origins and history of the pastoral culture in New Mexico. Using research from Carey McWiliam’s North From Mexico, Goodman explains that the Spanish explorers introduced sheep to the region in 1598. They also brought with them a system of sheepherding that included fixed grazing rights and land grants, both of which the Anglos would later adopt. In the 19th century, New Mexico became the sheep nursery of the nation, and it boosted the U.S. economy by providing wool for textile mills and a market for the growing sugar beet industry. Sheepherding soon acquired an iconic status, complete with its own music and stereotypes, one of which was the solitary, superstitious and witless Mexican sheepherder. However, the job required a very particular set of skills and knowledge, as the pastores, or shepherds, had to be able to track wild animals, read the weather, train dogs and guide the sheep. Sheepherding culture had its own social divisions, with the sheepherder at the bottom, the sheepshearer in the middle and the owner at the top. As the sheepherding industry boomed in the wake of the gold rush, the owners often made large amounts of money, but the sheepherders rarely benefited.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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