More than 340,000*Neomexicanos
in New Mexico and Colorado
|Regions with significant populations|
|26px New Mexico||340,162 (2000 U.S. Census)|
|American English · New Mexican Spanish · Ladino · New Mexican English|
Roman Catholic · [other]
The Neomexicanos, Novomexicanos, or Nuevomexicanos are the descendants of the Spanish and Mexican colonists who settled the area of New Mexico and Southern Colorado. From 1598 to 1848, most settlers in New Mexico were of Spanish ancestry (either directly or through Mexico).
New Mexico belonged to Spain for most of its modern history (16th century – 1821) and later to Mexico (1821–1848). The original name of the region was Santa Fé de Nuevo Mexico. The descendants of the settlers still retain a community of thousands of people in this state. Also, there is a community of Neomexicanos in Southern Colorado, due to shared colonial history.
Spanish government from New Mexico
The Spanish settlement began on July 11, 1598 when the explorer Don Juan de Oñate came north from Mexico City to New Mexico with 500 Spanish settlers and soldiers and a livestock of 7,000 animals. They founded San Juan de los Caballeros, the first Spanish settlement in what was called the Kingdom of New Mexico, after the Valley of Mexico.
Oñate also conquered the territories of the Pueblo Native American peoples and he became the first governor of New Mexico. The exploitation of Spanish rule under Oñate provoked nearly continuous attacks and reprisals from the nomadic Amer-Indian tribes on the borders, especially the Apache, Navajo, and Comanche peoples. There were major clashes between the Franciscan missionaries (brought to New Mexico to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity and hispanicize them) and secular and religious authorities. Indian labor exploitation by the colonists was somewhat common in New Mexico, but no more so than in other areas of the Spanish colonies in the Americas.
In the 1650s, Governor Bernardo López de Mendizabal and his subordinate Nicolas de Aguilar enacted a law to force the settlers and Franciscans to pay Native Americans for their work. He opposed the what he perceived as the mistreatment of the Indians by the Franciscans and proposed to allow the Indians to keep alive their culture and customs. The Franciscans protested the law and accused the governor before the Inquisition. He was later tried in Mexico City. So, the Franciscans indirectly governed the New Mexico province.
In the 1670s, the nomadic tribes attacked the Spanish and left to return to their old religions. This Pueblo Revolt forced the flight of the settlers from New Mexico.
They returned to the province in 1692 when Don Diego de Vargas became the new governor of New Mexico. He entered the former capital bearing an image of La Conquistadora. The Native Americans were so intrigued by the statue of the Virgin Mary that they are reputed to have laid down their arms at the sight of it. This "Reconquista" of New Mexico is reputed to have been bloodless and every year since then this statue of the Virgin Mary has been carried in procession through the City of Santa Fe to commemorate this event.
At the time of Vargas's arrival New Mexico was under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Guadalajara and belonging to the Viceroyalty of New Spain. However, with the creation in 1777 of the Provincias Internas it was included only in the jurisdiction of the Commandant-General. After the revolt, the Spanish issued substantial land grants to each Pueblo Amer-Indian and appointed a public defender to protect the rights of the Indians and argue their legal cases in the Spanish courts.
Mexican government from New Mexico
The mainland part of New Spain won independence from Spain in 1821 and New Mexico became part of the new nation of Mexico. After independence from Spain, the Spanish population began to mix somewhat with the indigenous populations. The new 'Mexican' élite attempted to create a common identity out of all the classes and different ethnicities. Nationalists attempted to establish equality, if only legally, between these different groups. The Spanish settlers of New Mexico and their descendants adapted to Mexican citizenship somewhat. In 1836, after the Republic of Texas gained independence, Texas claimed part of the Province of New Mexico, which was disputed by Mexico. In 1841, the Texians sent an expedition to occupy the area, but the expedition was captured by Mexican troops;
In 1837, a revolt broke out in New Mexico and the revolutionaries overthrew and executed the centrally appointed governor, demanding increased regional authority. This revolt was defeated by Manuel Armijo. The impetus for this revolt being the class antagonism present in New Mexican society. When central rule was reëstablished, Armijo ruled the province as governor, though with greater autonomy. In the mid-1830s New Mexico began to function as a trading hub between the United States, Central Mexico, and Mexican California.
New Mexico grew economically and the United States began to take notice of the strategic position New Mexico played in the western trade routes. In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, the U.S. Army occupied the province and Mexico ceded to United States the territories of the North with the so-called "Mexican Cession". By this Texas gained control of the City of El Paso, which was formerly in New Mexico]. However, in the Compromise of 1850 Texas gave up its claim to the other areas of New Mexico.
American government from New Mexico
In January 1912, New Mexico became an American state, and Anglophones eventually became the majority population. The Neomexicanos became an economically disadvantaged population in the state, becoming virtual second-class citizens compared with the Anglos. The Neomexicanos suffered discrimination from Anglophone Americans, who also questioned the loyalty of these new American citizens. The cultures of Neomexicanos and immigrant Anglophones eventually mixed to some degree, as was the case with immigrants in other parts of the United States.
The United States and the New Mexico State governments tried to incorporate the Neomexicanos more and more into mainstream American life. A good example is the mixing of Neomexicano images with American patriots symbols, the first translation of the national anthem into Spanish, and the recruitment of numerous Neomexicano ranchers, horsemen, and farmers to fight for the U.S. in both the Spanish–American War and the 1st World War. One early contribution of the Neomexicanos to American society is their support for women's suffrage. These contributions from both sides helped to improve the conditions of citizenship in the community, but social inequality between the Anglos and Neomexicanos remained.
N.B. the term English term "Mexican" for Neomexicanos was in common use until the 1920s, when a large influx of Mexican citizens fled the Mexican Revolution and came to the United States. To differentiate themselves from the newly arrived citizens of Mexico, the Neomexicanos began to adopt the term Spanish American. This term, while to the best, is perhaps more accurate since the Hispanic remained under Spanish rule the longest. This term, "Spanish American", suggested for Neomexicanos a future of equality as citizens of the United States. As well, to the Anglos it meant a rejection of the term "Mexican", which at that time connoted violence and poverty.
Currently, the majority of the Neomexicano population is distributed between New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Most of the Neomexicanos that live in New Mexico live in the northern half of the state. There are hundreds of thousands of Neomexicanos living in New Mexico. Those who claim to be descendants of Spanish settlers in this state currently account as the first predominant ancestry in the state.
There is also a community of people in Southern Colorado descended from Neomexicanos that migrated there in the 19th century. The stories and language of the Neomexicanos from Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado were studied by Neomexicano ethnographer, linguist, and folklorist Juan Bautista Rael and Aurelio Espinosa.
The dialect spoken by the Spanish settlers' descendants established primarily in the Northern New Mexico and the southern of Colorado is called New Mexican Spanish. Although New Mexico had received continual influence from the Spanish spoken in Mexico to the south by contact with Mexican migrants who fled to U.S. from Mexican Revolution, New Mexico's relative geographical isolation and unique political history has made New Mexican Spanish differ notably from Spanish spoken in other parts of Hispanic America, including northern Mexico, Alta California and Texas.
The dialect is formed by a preservation of forms and vocabulary from colonial-era Spanish, Amerindian languages (specially of Pueblo and Navajo peoples), Mexican terms, and English words. Also the pronunciation is also heavily influenced by both Mexican Spanish and American English.
- Nicolas de Aguilar
- Rudolfo Anaya
- Polly Baca
- Ezequiel Cabeza De Baca – (1864–1917) was the first Hispano elected for office as Lieutenant Governor in New Mexico's first election. He is a descendent of the original Spanish settlers which later became part of the Baca Family of New Mexico.
- José Francisco Chaves
- Angelico Chavez
- Denise Chavez
- Dennis Chavez – (1888–1962) Democratic U.S. Senator from the State of New Mexico.
- Linda Chavez – father's family came to New Mexico from Spain in 1601.
- José Manuel Gallegos
- Antonio Joseph (politician)
- Demi Lovato
- Ben R. Lujan
- Tranquilino Luna
- Francisco Antonio Manzanares
- Antonio José Martínez – (1793–1867) Nuevomexicano priest, educator, publisher, rancher, farmer, community leader, and politician
- Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco
- Joseph Montoya – (1915–1978) Democratic U.S. Senator from the State of New Mexico.
- Miguel Antonio Otero (born 1829) – Spanish politician of the New Mexico Territory.
- Miguel Antonio Otero (born 1859) – Governor of New Mexico Territory (1897–1906).
- Mariano S. Otero (1844–1904) – delegate from the Territory of New Mexico.
- Francisco Perea
- Pedro Perea
- Juan Bautista Rael – (1900–1993) Nuevomexicano ethnographer, linguist, and folklorist who was a pioneer in the study of the Nuevomexicanos, his stories and his language, both from Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.
- Edward L. Romero
- Trinidad Romero
- Edward R. Roybal
- Simmons, Marc, The Last Conquistador Norman: U of OK Press, 1992, pp.96, 111
- Carroll, H. Bailey. "Texan Santa Fe Expedition". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- Phillip Gonzales and Ann Massmann, "Loyalty Questioned: Neomexicanos in the Great War." Pacific Historical Review, Nov 2006, Vol. 75 Issue 4, pp 629–666
- Phillip B. Gonzales, "Spanish Heritage and Ethnic Protest in New Mexico: The Anti-Fraternity Bill of 1933," New Mexico Historical Review, Fall 1986, Vol. 61 Issue 4, pp 281–299
- Conservative and Hispanic, Linda Chavez Carves Out Leadership Niche