A Shared Space: Folklife in the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands

A Shared Space: Folklife in the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands

A Shared Space: Folklife in the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands

A Shared Space: Folklife in the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands

Excerpt

Southern Arizona is border country in a number of ways. In the first place, its southern boundary is also an international border, shared with the Mexican state of Sonora. The borderline, as well as the broader cultural zone of the border, are basic realities of life in southern Arizona and northern Sonora. But southern Arizona is itself a multicultural region with its own system of what one might call internal borders. It is home to several Indian nations: the Quechans (formerly the Yuma), Cocopah, and Tohono O'odham or Desert People (formerly the Papago Indians) who have lived here for time out of mind, and several communities of Yaquis, descended from nineteenth-century political refugees from the Yaqui homeland in Sonora, Mexico. Each of these groups has its own reservation. There is also a large Mexican American and Chicano population, some families of which have been in the region for two centuries.

These cultures interact with each other and with the dominant Anglo American society. This latter group started arriving in the 1850s, gained an almost exclusive hold on political and economic power in the 1880s and 1890s, and continues to grow through birth and through immigration from elsewhere.

The term Anglo American, or Anglo, as it is used in the American Southwest, really means anyone who isn't Hispanic or Indian. Thus, Chinese Americans, African Americans, and even Serbian Americans, all of whom have had an important presence in southern Arizona since the late nineteenth century, are somehow all Anglos. Even without taking into consideration these ethnic differences, the dominant society carries within it what might be described as its own series of internal borders. Catholics, Protestants, and Latter-day . . .

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