History of Latinos in Arizona Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1503 Words
Date:  2022-07-06

Although the majority of the present-day Latinos in Arizona were born within the United States borders, they remain an immigrant population who trace their roots to Mexico. Latino and Hispanic Arizonians are residents of Arizona states from the Latino or Hispanic ancestry. According to the 2010 U.S Census, they comprised 30.2% of the population of Arizona state (Bohn, Lofstrom and Raphael 266). During the 1840s, Mexico thinly colonized Arizona. However, the state was later ceded to the United States by Mexico, courtesy of the 1948's Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War between 1846 and 1848, which the U.S won. Today, the state of Arizona has the highest population of Latinos generations. But how did it begin? This paper explores the history of the Latinos in the state of Arizona.

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About a century ago, settlers from Spain started to migrate from central Mexico's north into the region of Arizona. VasquezLeon (289) explains that they built the Presidio of Tubac fort in 1752 and in 1775, they continued with their journey towards the north and developed the Presidio of Tucson. However, in 1853, the U.S annexed this region, which eventually became part of it. As a result, the Tubac and Tucson Mexican residents naturally became the United States citizens. They were mainly comprised of ranchers and farmers who were old family members and had lived in this place for many generations. Majority of their offspring would later be the Florence, Tempe, and Yuma pioneer settlers (VasquezLeon 293).

After the end of the Civil War, Fort McDowell was established on River Verde by the U.S Army. John Y.T Smith got a contract to supply feeds for the war horses used by the U.S soldiers. Smith, however, hired laborers of Mexican descent to cut wild grass and hay on the Salt River's bank. These Mexican workers built a camp near their working place, and it was at this point that Tempe town was founded. Other families of Hispanic origin particularly from Sonora and southern Arizona later joined them and established farms and homesteads nearby. This trend continued resulting in the half of the Tempe's population being Hispanic between 1870 and 1900 (Chavez 42).

The initial settlers preferred to live in several but small communities that were collectively referred to as Tempe. Some of these communities included the San Paulo, the West Tempe, the Hayden's Ferry, and the Sotelo Ranch. Majority of the area's Hispanic families worked at Hayden's Ferry for Charles T. Hayden. Employees who worked in the store, blacksmith's shops, flour mill, and warehouses were approximately fifty. They lived along the river in several adobe houses. Meanwhile, Mexican employees who worked hard on the Kirkland-McKinney Canal were encouraged by William H. Kirkland to establish a community on the Tempe Butte's southeastern side. Besides, he donated 80 acres of land to be used for the townsite project. Money that was accrued from selling lots was used in building an adobe church. Due to his actions, the white community christened San Pablo as Mexican Town or the East Tempe. All the neighborhood housing designs followed the Sonoran-style. Their main feature was the flat roofs. Several business establishments were then created to serve San Pablo by 1888 (Bohn, Lofstrom and Raphael 262).

The Sotelo Ranch was established at the southeast corner of the University and Rural Drive. The owner of the ranch, Manuela Sotelo divided it among her daughters in the 1870s and left some sections for other relatives who migrated from Tucson to settle. Later on, in 1890, the ranch was further subdivided by the family, an exercise referred to as Sotelo Addition and sold off most of these lots to members of the family. After the San Francisco Canal was completed in 1871, Hispanic families began farming in West Tempe. However, the majority of these farming families eventually lost the possession of their lands because of debts (Flores).

Charles Hayden was the largest employer of Latinos in Arizona's southern side of River Salt. However, Hispanic residents in Tempe held other different jobs as well. Some worked as merchants while others were autonomous freighters. Only a handful of Hispanic families were landowners. The majority were laborers, clearing farms for ranching and farming as well as building canals. The community had its own social engagements in the field of entertainment and music. Every year, organizations from Mexico sponsored concerts, Cinco de Mayo, and dance celebrations. Mexican traditional music and more contemporary dance and jazz tunes were sponsored by popular orchestras. Additionally, there were weekly dance platforms held outdoors in Sotelo Addition.

During the 1910's Mexican Revolution, Mexican citizens came to the United States in their thousands to seek refuge. Many of these newcomers were welcomed by local farm owners. In a span of twenty years, between 1919 to 1930, approximately 10% of the Mexican population had moved into the U.S. Majority of them made the Salt River Valley their home. With the coming of more immigrant populations from Mexico after the end of the war, tensions arose between Hispanic sections of Tempe and the Whites. Hispanic pioneer families in Tempe started to refer to themselves as Spanish Americans or Latin Americans in a bid to draw a line between themselves and the arriving immigrants. However, in 1912, when the new Tenth Street School was opened, Hispanic children were prohibited from attending. Even in 1023, when the Tempe Beach Swimming Pool was opened, Hispanic families were forbidden from swimming in it. This depicted the kind of segregation that characterized the ancient town of San Pablo. It became known as the barrio to denote a community under seclusion (Nicholls 17).

However, the Hispanic residents in Tempe refused to be discriminated against. They mounted several resistances against acts of exclusion. They combined forces with such mutualistas as Hispano-Americana and Alianza, which gave them a platform to air their political views as well as provide them with life insurance and burials. Other residences joined such political movements as the Latin Protection League (La Liga Protectora Latina). Yet others directly confronted the acts of segregation. For instance, a resident by the name Adofo "Babe" Romo decided to file a petition a court of law to challenge the acts of segregation in 1923. The presiding judge ruled in favor of the Hispanic children. As a result, the children were allowed admission into the school.

Many of the Tempe's Mexican Americans were recruited to serve in the military during the second world war. When they returned from their overseas incursions, the war veterans demanded a stop in segregation of their community. These demands bored some fruits because, in 1946, the Tempe Beach Pool was opened for the Hispanic families as well. Additionally, Gil Montanez, a Latino, was elected to the Tempe City Council in 1964. The Arizona State College witnessed a rapid rise in the number of Hispanic students registering for various programs. As a result, it began to purchase land located in the north of the University Drive to construct more hostels during the mid-1950s. This remains the oldest and largest of all the places in Tempe barrios. Most of the families who were displaced as a result of this project were pushed to other areas in Salt River Valley, Tempe and beyond. Furthermore, the Escalante Center was constructed in 1971 to offer recreational and social services to the Hispanic community that was predominant in the area (Colombi, Colombi and Roca 88).


Unlike Latinos in other regions of the U.S who incline towards diversity, those in Arizona stand out for their Mexican heritage dominance. They have strong Mexican cultural traditions, mannerisms, references, and sayings, which sets them apart from the rest of the country. Indeed, the Latinos' stay in the United States is laced with a rough history. The initial inhabitants came in as laborers and the subsequent immigrants were escaping the war in the hops that the United States would offer them a safe haven. However, they were subjected to discriminatory treatments that ensured that they condemned as second-class citizens. Although there have been some success stories particularly in ending segregations, the Latinos are not out of the woods yet. Thanks to the recent immigration laws and intensified border patrols, the Latinos trying to enter the U.S have been nabbed and subjected to cruel and inhumane treatments.

Works Cited

Bohn, Sarah, Magnus Lofstrom and Stephen Raphael. "Did the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act Reduce the State's Unauthorized Immigrant Population?" Review of Economics and Statistics, 96.2 (2014): 258-269. Print.

Chavez, Leo R. The Latino threat: constructing immigrants, citizens, and the nation. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2013. Print.

Colombi, M Cecilia, Maria Cecilia Colombi and Ana Roca. Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, research and practice. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2003. Print.

Flores, Rene D. "Living in the Eye of the Storm: How did Hazleton's Restrictive Immigration Ordinance Affect Local Interethnic Relations?" American Behavioral Scientist, 58.13 (2014). Print.

Nicholls, Walter. The DREAMers: how the undocumented youth movement transformed the immigrant rights debate. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2013. Print.

VasquezLeon, Marcela. "Hispanic Farmers and Farmworkers: Social Networks, Institutional Exclusion, and Climate Vulnerability in Southeastern Arizona." American Anthropologist, 111.3 (2009): 289-301. Print.

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History of Latinos in Arizona Essay Example. (2022, Jul 06). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/history-of-latinos-in-arizona-essay-example

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