Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Mexican Independence Day!

It's September 16: Today's the day Mexico celebrates its independence!

And we've talked a lot about the fast-growing Mexican and general Latino populations, but did you know that Latinos have lived in Washington state since the 1770's?

The below history comes to us from the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, via El Mundo newspaper.

In Washington State, the familiar names of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, and Rosario Strait are a legacy of Spanish influence in the state. But what is missing is the Latino (Latin American v. Spanish) imprint. The Spanish influence is a Latino legacy, more importantly a Mexican legacy that began in the 1770s.

Two Mexicans in particular contributed greatly to early knowledge of Washington state. José Mariano Moziño participated in the 1792 expedition, known as the Malaspian Expedition. He produced an ecological catalog of 200 species of plants, animals, and birds. He documented his research in Noticias de Nuka: An Account of Nootka Sound in 1792. Also a member of the Malaspian Expedition, Anastasio Echeverría was considered the best artist in Mexico at the time. Echeverría sketched one of the first detailed landscape profiles of the area.

From Mexican mule packers in the 1770’s to the farmers of today, the Latino influence in Washington state is not a new phenomenon, but a tangible aspect of the society. Yakima Valley, Pasco, Burien, or Mt. Vernon will notice an undeniable Latino influence. In the Yakima Valley alone, from Wapato to Prosser, Latinos make up the majority of the population. Yakima County as a whole has a population of 231,586, of which 38.6%, or more than 89,000 persons, are of Hispanic or Latino origin.

So...when you hear talk about how we "suddenly" have so many Hispanics in our state, you may want to explain that the migration to Washington actually started in the late 1700's. And when you hear another myth, that Hispanic immigration is the cause of the population explosion, you can explain that population growth is due more to U.S. births than to immigration--even before the recession.

Que tengas un bonito día.

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