Tejano or Texano (Spanish for "Texan") is a term used to identify a Texan of Criollo Spanish or Mexican heritage.
Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify various groups of people. During the Spanish colonial era and before Anglo colonization, the term primarily applied to Spanish settlers of the region now known as the state of Texas (first as part of New Spain and after 1821 as part of Mexico). During the independent south Texas period, the term also applied to Spanish-speaking Texans, Hispanicized Germans, or other Spanish-speaking residents.
In the 20th century and beyond, Tejano has been more broadly used to identify a Texan Mexican American. It is also a term used to identify natives, as opposed to newcomers, in the areas settled.
As early as 1519, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda claimed the area which is now Texas, for Spain. However, the Spanish monarchy paid little attention to the province until 1685. In that year, news was received of a French colony in the area, which might threaten Spanish colonial mines and shipping routes. King Carlos II sent ten expeditions to find the French colony, but they were unsuccessful. Between 1690 and 1693 expeditions were made to the region which is now Texas, obtaining a better knowledge of it for the provincial government and settlers who came later.
Tejano settlements first arose in three distinct regions: the northern Nacogdoches region, the Bexar-Goliad region along the San Antonio River, and the Rio Grande ranching frontier between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. These populations shared certain characteristics, yet they were independent of one another. The main unifying factor was their shared responsibility for defending the northern frontier of New Spain. Some of the first settlers were Isleños from the Canary Islands. Their families were among the first to reside at the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar in 1731 (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). Soon after, they established the first civil government at La Villa de San Fernando.
Ranching was a major activity in the Bexar-Goliad area, which consisted of a belt of ranches that extended along the San Antonio River between Bexar (San Antonio area) and Goliad. The Nacogdoches settlement was located farther north and east. Tejanos from Nacogdoches traded with the French and Anglo residents of Louisiana, and they were culturally influenced by them. The third settlement was located north of the Rio Grande, toward the Nueces River. The ranchers there were citizens of Spanish origin from Tamaulipas and (what is now) northern Mexico, and they identified with Spanish Criollo culture.
The northern Mexican states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas seceded from Mexico in 1840 to establish la República del Río Grande (the Rio Grande Republic) with its capital in what is now Laredo, Texas. However, their much-anticipated political marriage with their Tejano kin did not come to fruition.
In 1821 at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, there were about 4,000 Tejanos living in Mexican Texas alongside a lesser number of foreign settlers. In addition, several thousand Mexicans lived in the areas of Paso del Norte (now El Paso, Texas) and Nuevo Santander, such as Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.
During the 1820s, many settlers from the United States and other nations moved to Mexican Texas. The passage of a national colonization law encouraged immigration by new settlers; so that by 1830, the 30,000 recent settlers in Texas outnumbered the Hispanos Tejanos six to one.
Texians and Tejanos alike rebelled against attempts to centralize authority in Mexico City and against the measures implemented by Santa Anna. Tensions between the central Mexican government and the settlers eventually led to the Texas Revolution. After the revolution, many were dismayed by the treatments they received at the hands of Texians/Anglos, who suspected and accused the Tejanos of sabotage and of aiding Santa Anna.
Texas insurgents in Mexico in 1915 wrote a manifesto that was circulated in the town of San Diego, in South Texas. The manifesto "Plan de San Diego" called on Hispanics to reconquer the Southwest and kill all the Anglo men. Numerous cross-border raids, murders, and sabotage took place. The Texas Rangers suppressed the insurrection. Tejanos strongly repudiated the Plan and affirmed their American loyalty by founding the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). It was headed by professionals, business leaders, and progressives, and it became the central Tejano organization promoting civic pride and civil rights.
In 1963, Tejanos in Crystal City organized themselves, won elections, and took control of the city and the school board. This move signaled the emergence of modern Tejano politics. In 1969-70, a different Tejano coalition, the La Raza Unida Party, took control of the city. The new leader was José Angel Gutiérrez, a radical nationalist who worked to form a Chicano nationalist movement across the Southwest, 1969-79. He promoted cultural terminology (Chicano, Aztlan) designed to unite the militants; his movement split into competing factions in the late 1970s.
Etymology and usage:
In the Spanish language, the term "tejano" is simply used to identify an individual from Texas, regardless of race or ethnic background. During the Spanish colonial period of Texas, before Texas became a part of independent Mexico in 1821, most colonial settlers of northern New Spain - including Texas, northern Mexico, and the American Southwest - were descendants of Spaniards.
Tejanos may variously consider themselves to be Mexican, Chicano/Mexican-American, Spanish, or Hispano in ancestral heritage. In urban areas, as well as some rural communities, Tejanos tend to be well integrated into both the Hispanic and mainstream American cultures, and a number of them, especially among younger generations, identify more with the mainstream and may understand little or no Spanish.
While a large number of the people who have come from central and southern Mexico, since the Mexican Revolution and up to the present day, have drawn their identity from the mestizo culture (a mix of indigenous and Spanish cultures) and had their history and identity in the history of Mexico, most of the people whose ancestors colonized Texas and the northern Mexican states during the Spanish colonial period drew their identity from the Spaniards or from the Criollos. Many of the latter find their history and identity in both the history of Spain and the history of the United States, as a consequence of the participation by Spain's colonial provinces (Spanish Texas and Spanish Louisiana) in the American Revolutionary War.
Ethnic and national origins:
Tejanos are those Texians who are descended from pioneer colonists of the Spanish colonial period (before 1821) or are descended from Spanish Mexicans.
In direct relation to this distinction, genuine Tejano music is related to, and sounds more like, the folk music of Louisiana, known as "Cajun music", blended with the sounds of Rock and Roll, R&B, Pop, and Country, with Mexican influences such as Mariachi. The American Cowboy culture and music was born from the meeting of the Anglo-American Texians who were colonists from the American South and the original Tejano Texian pioneers and their "vaquero" or "cowboy" culture.
The cuisine that would come to be "Tex-Mex" originated with the Tejanos as a hybrid of Spanish and North American indigenous commodities with influences from Mexican cuisine.
Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of melted cheese, meat (particularly beef), beans, and spices, in addition to corn or flour tortillas. Chili con carne, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, enchiladas, and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions. A common feature of Tex-Mex is the combination plate, with several of the above on one large platter. Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is also an original Tex-Mex invention.Cabrito, barbacoa, carne seca, and other products of cattle culture have been common in the ranching cultures of South Texas and northern Mexico. In the 20th century, Tex-Mex took on Americanized elements such as yellow cheese, as goods from the United States became cheap and readily available. Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin. Cumin is often referred to by its Spanish name, "comino."
A common Tex-Mex breakfast dish served is a "breakfast taco." A breakfast taco consists usually of a thicker-style flour tortilla or traditional corn tortilla and is served using a single fold as opposed to the burrito-style method of completely encasing the ingredients. Some of the typical ingredients used are: eggs, potatoes, cheese, beans, bacon, sausage, barbacoa, and can be eaten using variations of these elements. Breakfast tacos are traditionally served with an optional red or green salsa.
Daniel D. Arreola states that there is a line of demarcation in the "South Texas Mexican" food region, using a "taco-burrito" and "taco-barbecue" line of demarcation. To the west of this line, Mexican food served in a flour tortilla is often called a burrito, due to the influence of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. To the south and east of this line, the same food may be simply called a taco, showing a Tex-Mex influence. To the north, this food gives way to barbecue sandwiches reflecting the influx of European, Southern Anglo, and African Americans.
Most of the population of Tejanos who descend from the original Spanish settlers, as well as those who descend from 20th-century Mexican immigrants, are concentrated in southern Texas. The city of San Antonio is the historic center of Tejano culture; Bexar County and Duval County have some of the historically-highest concentrations of Tejanos.
Tejanos of Colonial origin:
Settlers and settlers´s descendants:
Gaspar Flores de Abrego,
Ignacio Lorenzo de Armas,
Simón de Arocha,
José María Jesús Carbajal,
Jacob De Cordova,
Juan Curbelo (Tejano settler),
Juan José Elguézabal,
Blas María de la Garza Falcón,
Manuel N. Flores,
José Antonio de la Garza,
Antonio Rodríguez Medero,
Jose Antonio Navarro,
Antonio de Olivares,
Antonio Rodríguez Medero,
Francisco Antonio Ruiz,
José Francisco Ruiz,
Don Tomás Sánchez,
Vicente Álvarez Travieso,
José de Urrutia,
Juan Martin de Veramendi,
Tomás Felipe de Winthuisen,
Lorenzo de Zavala,
Adina Emilia De Zavala,
Tejanos of immigrant (not settler) origin or descent
Tony Ayala, Jr.,
George Prescott Bush,
Elsa Salazar Cade,
Richard E. Cavazos,
Rudolph B. Davila,
Jade Esteban Estrada,
Madison De La Garza,
Hector P. Garcia,
Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez,
Henry B. Gonzalez,
Armando Lichtenberger Jr.,
Jose M. Lopez,
Los Lonely Boys,
Art Martinez de Vara,
Abraham Quintanilla III,
Rico Rodriguez II,
Jose Francisco Torres,
Carlos Coy (South Park Mexican),
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