LaRed Latina of the Intermountain Southwest.


Las Americas... Then and Now

Learn and discover how Hispanic/Latino achievements and accomplishments have contributed in making America great! LaRed Latina wishes to congratulate Helen Rael Giddens for compiling, researching and preparing this interesting and compelling historical manuscript.


......that when the Spaniards encountered the Americas, they did not realize that what they had actually found was another old world which was just as diverse and rich in its own culture a s their own. They were not prepared for the magnificence of its structures nor the sophistication of its people. They were astounded by the splendor and organization of their marketplaces and in the harmony and order in which the people worked and lived.

Unfortunately and tragically, the Spaniards considered the indigenous people as being less than human and therefore, discounted the richness of their culture. So began the pillaging, destruction and decimation of the people by war, by diseases, and by the forcible removal of ten million people from their African home to serve as plantation slaves in the Americas.

We are the children of the conquest, torn between pride in our Spanish hertiage and outrage at the treatment of our indigenous ancestors. We are the inheritors, not only of the pain and betrayal, but also of the achievements which changed the ethnic compo sition, diets, and health of the world forever.


......that tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, peppers(chili and bell), squash, chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, pumpkin, cassaba root, avocado, peanuts, pecans, cashews, pineapples, blueberries, sunflowers, petunias, black-eyed susans, dahlias, marigold s, poinsettias, quinine, turkeys, and wild rice are part of the exchange with the old world?

......that the old world's contribution to the Americas was the horse, cattle, pig, sheep, chicken, honeybee, wheat, Asian rice, barley, oats, soy, sugar cane, onion, lettuce, okra, peach, and pear, watermelon, citrus fruit, banana, lilac, daffodil , tulip, daisy, dandelion, and crabgrass?

......that the Spanish conquistadores, and Portuguese explorers were people of mixed ethnicities. When they first encountered the Americas, they came without women, and due to this marriage of blood and cultures, the new mestizo people, who compose most of today's Latino population, were created.

......that in the first fifty years of the conquest, Royal customs agents in Seville, Spain's only official port of entry from the Americas, recorded twenty thousand tons of silver entering at this time.($4 billion in today's market)?

......that between 1500 and 1650, the gold from the Americas added at least 180-200 tons to the European treasure ($2.8 billion)? The churches of Europe still moan under the weight of the gold and silver taken from the Americas.

......that the Aztec understanding of diseases and its treatment became the basis for modern medicine and pharmacology? Their pharmacists (papiani) concocted emetics, purges, febrifuges, and skin ointments (petroleum jelly), as well as underarm deodorants, toothpa ste, and breath fresheners.

......that the first university in North America was the Real y Pontifica Universidad de Mexico, founded in 1551?

......that the first Zoo in North America was commissioned by Aztec Emporer Moctezuma II in 1506?

......that the first newspaper in North America was "La Gaceta de Mexico" printed in 1667.

......thatthe Aztecs discovered rubber, and it was Silvestre Diaz de la Vega who later discovered the method by which rubberized cloth was made perfectly impermeable? He ranks among the best known contributors to the rubber industry.

......that it was not until 1528 that the expeditionary Cabeza de Vaca crossed the AZTLAN territory for the first time? It took an entire century for the Spaniards to establish its f irst permanent colony in Texas.


......that Don Juan de Oñate and a group of explorers celebrated the first Thanksgiving near present-day El Paso, Texas, 23 years prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims?

......that Juan de Oñate, the first governor of New Mexico, was born in Zacatecas, Mexico? He married the great granddaughter of Hernan Cortes , the Spanish conquerer of Nueva Espana, and Isabel Moctezuma , the daughter of th e Aztec Emporer Moctezuma II. Oñate's wife's name was Isabel de Tolosa Cortes Moctezuma.

......that the first theatrical play given in the United States was performed by the Spanish at San Juan de los Caballeros, New Mexico, in 1598 . Captain Marcos Farfan de los Godos, a member of the Oñate expedition, wrote, p roduced and directed the play?

......that the language of the Spanish-speaking people of New Mexico is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and Nahuatl? Many are products of Portuguese fathers and Native American mothers. This is evident in the muster rolls of the Spanish entradas in New Mexico, and Colorado.

......that two hundred years before the birth of George Washington, the Spanish, along with the people from the Americas, had founded schools, missions, towns, and new and exotic lands which they named Nuevo Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Nevad a, California, etc.?

......that the Spanish were the first European colonizing power to issue a set of laws specifically designed to protect the rights of subject Indian peoples in the Western Hemisphere?


......that the roots of Spanish ranching were planted in the Americas on January 2, 1494, when Columbus, on his second voyage, unloaded twenty four stallions, ten mares, and and unknown number of cattle off the northern coast of Hispaniola, near present day Cape Haiten, Haiti?

......that the vaqueros or cowboys of the 1750's were mestizos (a mixture of Native Americans, Spaniards, and Portuguese.)

......that before the English colony was established in North America, a single rancher in the province of Jalisco was branding more than 30,000 calves a year?

......that today, the American ranch is a near perfect replica of the Iberian model, from its architecture, horses and cattle right down to the corrals, the saddles, and lingo (la reata became lariat, rancho became ranch, and vaq uero became buckaroo. Rodeo means cattle roundup in Spanish.)

......that in South Texas today, Mexican-Americans (Chicanos) continue to own much of the land along the Rio Grande? The Spanish language continues to be an important means of communication as most Anglos working on ranches, including the ranch fore man and owners, speak Spanish with their vaqueros.

......that it was the Spanish-speaking world (governments of Mexico, Spain, and Cuba) who helped free the united Colonies from the British Crown? The American revolution was financed from funds collected from people living in the present sta tes of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It took thousands of Spanish troops to help win the War of Independence.


......that the English language has adopted many Spanish words which are used side by side in everyday conversation such as: adios, adobe, amigo, burro, cafeteria, cantina, canyon, casa, chile, cigar, coca cola, contra, coyote, gringo, desperado, g uerilla, hacienda, hombre, junta, lasso, loco, macho, maize, marijuana, mesquite, padre, peon, pinto, plaza, poncho, rancho, rio, rodeo, savvy, sombrero, tomato, tonto, vista, villas, and Yanqui?

There's a Mexican dicho (saying) that goes, "Ay Jalisco, no te rajes!" which basically means "Don't give up, keep on going!" This along with our wealth of Aztec Wisdom and practical ingenuity, has become the energy behind the Latino Populati on.

......that the symbol "$" which we use to refer to the U.S. dollar was taken directly from the pillars of the Spanish imperial coat of arms with the motto "PLUS ULTRA?" In 1775, the Continental Congress, in a proposal by Thomas Jeffe rson, adopted the "Spanish Dollar" as the basic monetary unit.

......that the city of Galveston, Texas is named after Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, who commanded Spanish troops during and in support of the American Revolution?

......that paraffin which is distilled from petroleum was discovered in Mexico? Paraffin is used today for the manufacturing of candles, sealing preserving jars, waterproofing paper, (milk cartons and frozen food containers), cosmetics (lip ssticks and ointments), and for electrical insulation.

......that the Mexican Air Force under the command of Pancho Villa, were the first to use the air for the destruction of enemy sites? Up to this time, the United States Air Force was using the air strictly for reconnaissance.

......that in 1773, Agustin de Rotea, a Mexican, invented a calculus of probability which was used to establish the Mexican Lottery. It was later adopted by all the Raffles/Lotteries in the world.

......that Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders began as the Otero Guards, men who guarded Governor Otero from New Mexico?

......that Squadron Doscientos Uno (201), Mexican Pilots, fought for the United States in World War II out of the Philippines in 1944-45?

......that Chicanos and Latinos have been decorated more and have a longer contributory military record than any ethnic or racial group in the United States?

......that Pedro Sanchez, engineer and director for the Pan American Geography and History Institute of Mexico, presented a system by which one can detect seisms and erosions of the earth.

......that Guillermo Camarena, a Mexican, invented color television?

......that Pedro Paulet, a Peruvian, was the inventor of the first liquid propellent rocket? And Juan de la Cierva, a Spaniard, invented the Helicopoter?

......that Dr. Sergio Gutierrez, a Mexican, invented contact lenses for newborns to prevent amyblyopia (lazy eye)? The AMA did not approve the invention for another 10 years.

......that Brigadier General Roberto Cardenas, a Mexican, was the test pilot for Northrup who flew the first transcontinental jet? He was also the bomber pilot who dropped Chuck Yeager's plane when Yeager broke the sound barrier.


......that as the people of Mexico crossed the new borders into the United States, they felt an innate need to continue their cultural identity? It was during the Chicano Movement of the 1960's that the people of Mexican descent recreated the myth for their homeland called


AZTLAN now represents the souls of the descendents of Mexico in the United States. As the mythical meaning of word/idea/concept evolves, and the determination to preserve one's cultural identity intensifies, its people will enter into a new consciousness. This will be the commitment to reach further into our human potential and embrace the legacy of AZTLAN as our homeland without boundaries.

That despite the gifts of

Art, Music, and Theatre
Education, Mathematics, and Science
Agriculture, and Technology
and Exploration

which the children of the conquest have graciously shared with the world, myths and faulty stereotypes continue to exist.