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Secretary Salazar Works to Uncover the American Latino Story

Secretary Salazar Works to Uncover the American Latino Story

When you consider that Latinos, particularly Mexican-Americans, have lived in what is now the US for more than 400 years, it’s surprising how little you hear about us in discussions of American history. This holds true on the highest levels – just over 3% of the officially designed properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places are recognized for their association with any racial or ethnic minority group.

Ken Salazar, the US Secretary of the Interior, is aiming to change that. Earlier this month, he unveiled his plan to better recognize Latino history, the American Latino Heritage Initiative. The National Park Service will spearhead a campaign to evaluate currently existing historic assets to identify missing links.

Secretary Salazer notes some early successes of the program on the White House’s official blog:

We have already made significant strides in implementing this initiative. For example, just one year ago, I had the honor to stand next to Paul Chávez, the son of a 20th century hero whose sacrifice improved the lives of millions. To celebrate the life and legacy of César Chávez, together we officially dedicated ’40 Acres’, the headquarters of the United Farm Workers as a National Historic Landmark. Cesar Chavez was a true champion of change and with the designation of the site where it all began, visitors will be able to learn about his story and appreciate his struggle toward a more perfect union.

This initiative is desperately needed – it’s sad how Latino history in the US often goes ignored. Large portions of what is now the US used to be parts of Mexico – the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 gave the US California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Utah. That wasn’t empty land – around 80,000 Mexican citizens woke up one day and found they’d suddenly become Americans.

That history is important and should be recognized. Too often, the history of the Western United States is treated as if it began with the US acquisition of Mexican territory, and the lives of those early Mexican-Americans are ignored entirely. I have no doubt that this initiative will uncover historic sites that are both valuable and incredibly interesting. Hopefully, similar initiatives for historic sites related to other ethnic groups will follow.


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5:30AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Not sure what thomas m means by "the crime we have due to illegal immigrants."
The crime of illegal immigration is a crime only because we have said it is a crime,
not because immigration is criminal in itself. Apart from that, most "illegal"
immigrants commit no crimes, or certainly no more than anyone else. Reforming
our immigration laws might be more productive than whipping ourselves into frenzies
about immigrants.

5:08AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

It's all well and good that he is doing this, but, what about his real job of protecting our lands and wildlife? Fire the bum!

12:50AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Important history and there is additional important history behind the Native Americans as well.

1:06PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

If you are here illegally creating the crime we have due to illegal immigrants i have absolutely no sympathy for you. If you are caught doing your crime you deserve to go to a US Pen and being deported back to where you came from should be your least worry. If you try to enter illegally for illegal reasons, believe me you are not welcome in the US and if you commit a serious crime here make absolutely no mistake, you will be caught no matter where you elect to whole up. And that my friend is GUARANTEED!

12:04PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

As one Rodríguez to another, yes, this initiative is needed, but Secretary Salazar is neglecting his main job.

9:21AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Salazar should be fired! Why hasn't anyone made a petition for that?

8:34AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Salazar should do his job and protect the animals on our public lands.

8:30AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

It is important to protect the history and heritage of our people and it is good to see Salazar doing something useful. Now if we could just get him to do his main job, that of protecting our natural heritage. From drilling rigs in the Gulf, to wolves in Idaho, to Polar bears in Alaska, his performance in protecting those assets is worse than dismal. And if Obama fails in his reelection, his decision to appoint Salazar will not be a small factor.

8:25AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Secretary Salazar is responsible for the ongoing war on wildlife in the US. He desperately needs to use his office for the protection of the environment and wildlife (wolves, wild mustangs & burros, et al) and not as an extension of the ranching/big agri/mining industries. Salazar's stance on the environmental and wildlife reveals just how corrupt the US gov't really is.

5:42AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

The National Park Service administers many sites representative of
Native American history, including post-colonial sites as well as sites
associated with the Ancient Ones. For many years, it has told the
story of white America's mistreatment of Natives at these sites.
At least some of NPS sites are administered cooperatively with tribes.
No doubt more can and should be done in this direction too, of course.

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A very interesting article, some places it is not good with that change in the nature

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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