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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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Pastores And Politics: King Tiger, Hispanos, Land Grants And Chicano Culture
Program #

Richard Goodman
Richard Goodman
Dec 22, 1976

Pastores and Politics: King Tiger, Hispanos, Land Grants and Chicano Culture

Richard Goodman discusses the life of Reies Lopez Tijerina, his career as an activist and his struggle to return Mexican land grants to the Hispanos of New Mexico. Although born in Texas, Tijerina spent much of his adult life in New Mexico, where he moved after becoming a pastor. There he learned of the plight of the Hispanos whose land Anglo agriculturalists had stolen, and he began his decades long struggle to return the Tierra Amarilla to the town residents of San Joaquin de Chama. In 1966, frustrated with the government’s lack of a response to his appeals, he led the occupation of the Echo Amphitheatre, which was within the pueblo’s land grant, and asserted their right to the land. This incident marked the beginning of Tijerina’s legal troubles, and the state tried for years to send him to jail, finally succeeding in 1970. He was released in 1971, but by he had become a symbol of political repression in the U.S., and he continued to speak out against the crimes of the government. Tijerina preached a message of unity for Chicanos, while also working with black militants and other activists throughout the United States. He has become one of the most well-known and dedicated leaders of the Chicano Movement. Research for this segment comes from Rodolfo Acuña’s Occupied America.

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.


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