They Called Me "King Tiger": My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights

They Called Me "King Tiger": My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights

They Called Me "King Tiger": My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights

They Called Me "King Tiger": My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights

Excerpt

Reies Lopez Tijerina, one of the principal leaders of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, began keeping a diary of events in 1974. He wanted to write about his twenty-year struggle for the land, from 1956 to 1976. He would turn fifty years of age in 1976 and wanted to leave a memoir of his efforts. He used these diary entries to write his autobiography. According to Tijerina, with the help of Gregorio Casuals, José Antonio, and Verónica Alvarez, he made contact with the publishing house Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico, and they expressed an interest in his manuscript. On January 28, 1978, the Fondo de Cultu ra Económica published Tijerina’s 575-page autobiography in Spanish, with a print run of 5,000 copies.

Reies autographed and dedicated book number 1,585 to me on April 8, 1978, with these words, “Con respeto y memorias hago este regalo a José Angel Gutiérrez—Después de muchos años, nuestra amistad y mutuo respeto ha crecido más y más.” His book was never reviewed in the United States. Consequently, Tijerina’s life story, his version of events that catapulted him into a leadership role in the Chicano Movement, his world view, and the identity of others involved with him during the years 1956 to 1976, remained hidden from or ignored by all of us who read only English. Tijerina, rightfully or wrongfully, wanted it this way. He had been approached by Doubleday in 1975 (319) and later by Samuel Stewart of McGraw-Hill (288, 294) to write his autobiography, but he declined their offers. He did not want to write in English. By 1978, several books about Tijerina and the land recovery movement had been written in English. He was critical of these books, and said so, but did not write his version of events or story in English.

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