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Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Xicana/o struggle for land

January 29, 2009

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On February 2, 1848, a Mexican delegation ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, with Mexico accepting the Rio Grande as the Texas border and ceding almost half its territory (which incorporated the present day-states of California, New Mexico, Nevada, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, Utah and even Oklahoma) to the United States in return for $15 million.
The version of the treaty ratified by the United States Senate eliminated Article X, which stated that the U.S. government would honor and guarantee all land grants awarded in lands ceded to the United States to citizens of Spain and Mexico by those respective governments. Article VIII guaranteed that Mexicans who remained more than one year in the ceded lands would automatically become full-fledged American citizens (or they could declare their intention of remaining Mexican citizens); however, the Senate modified Article IX, changing the first paragraph and excluding the last two. Among the changes was that Mexican citizens would “be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States)” instead of “admitted as soon as possible”, as negotiated between Nicolas Trist and the Mexican delegation.
Apart from the impact of losing over half of their territory, the Mexicans had lost a measure of dignity. To this day the lack of enforcement of the Treaty remains an issue for Xicana/os with the U.S government. For many Xicana/os this is our land based struggle as Indigenous people. We see this struggle as one parallel and shared with Northern Native American’s struggle over treaty rights.
Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza collaborated on designing the promotional flyers and a commemorative screen printed poster for the annual Bay Area Treaty of Guadalupe “remembrance” event organized by the grassroots group Huaxtec.
Huaxtec is a organizations comprised of young Xicanas and Xicanos in the Bay Area who are learning their traditions as Indigenous people and organizing in their schools, community and to continue resistance against colonization.
(Much of this writing is borrowed form Rodolfo Acuna’s Occupied America: A History of Chicanos)

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