“If it weren’t for the Tejano, Texas would be Ohio,” says Andrés Tijerina, a scholar of Texas history at Austin Community College. Tijerina argues that Texas culture – the boots and the hats, the mavericks and mustangs – all traces back to the state’s Mexican and Spanish roots.
The Spanish first entered the Southwest searching for the seven cities Cíbola, a mythical and wealthy nation believed to exist in the American interior. They found no golden cities, but they did decide to stay and claim the vast territory for Spain.
The Spanish brought cattle ranching and cowboy culture to Texas – many had learned it in the shrublands of Western Spain. The Anglo-Americans who began settling in Texas in the 19th century were adopted Tejano ways. After the Texas War of Independence, those Anglos began to take over Tejano ranches, often murdering whole families and moving on their lands.
Some would call it ethnic cleansing. In this segment, we begin with the story of the search for Cíbola. Then, we speak with scholar Andrés Tijerina about how the narrative around Texas history has long ignored their contributions to the state.
Andrés Tijerina, a native of Ozona, serves with distinction as Professor of History at the Pinnacle Campus of Austin Community College. He is author of Tejanos and Texas Under the Mexican Flag and Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos, and has edited several other works. Dr. Tijerina is a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and an active presenter to gatherings of historians throughout the state. His writings have appeared as chapters, articles, and book reviews in journals ranging from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly to the American Historical Review.
Photo of Austin’s Tejano Monument, courtesy of Marlon Bishop