corridos arose at least partially in response to the prejudice
and discrimination that Mexican Americans faced from Anglo Americans
in the Southwest. Mexican American pride is particularly evidence
in a corridor known as Kiansis (Kansas) that was sung among Tejanos--Texans
of Mexican descent--beginning in the 1850s.
It was in
Texas that anti-Mexican prejudice had first surfaced. From the
outset of Anglo colonization, some newcomers spoke of Tejanos
and Mexicans as debased human beings, comparable in many ways
to Native American “savages” blocking the westward
movement of white European civilization. In 1831 colonizer Stephen
F. Austin wrote:
the sole and only desire of my ambitions since I first saw Texas,
was to...settle it with an intelligent, honorable, and enterprising
later Austin still wanted to see Texas:
that is, settled by a population that will harmonize with their
neighbors on the East, in language, political principles, common
origin, sympathy, and even interest.
of the Texas Revolution, from Austin’s point of view, would
ensure that Americans pouring into the region would not be ruled
by what they considered an inferior native populace.
Texas Revolution of 1836, American migrants employed terms of
racial and cultural derision to describe the native Tejanos. They
were the most “lazy, indolent, poor, starved set of people
as ever the sun shined upon”; they were “slaves of
popish superstitions and despotism”; and they would “spend
days in gambling to gain a few bits” rather than “make
a living by honest industry.” With their mixture of blood
from Spanish, Native American, and African parents, the native
populace represented a “mongrel” race, a “swarthy
looking people much resembling...mulattoes.” By depriving
Mexican Americans of full humanity, Anglo settlers could justify
land grabbing, depriving Tejanos of the vote, violent repression,
and even murder. Wrote one American veteran of the Texas Revolution
late in life: “I thought that I could kill Mexicans as easily
as I could deer and turkeys.” He apparently did so while
shouting: “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”
veteran selective remembered the story of Texas independence.
Many Tejanos had played a critical role in winning the Texas revolution.
But they had been reduced to second-class citizenship and become
“strangers in their own land.”
salimos pa’ Kiansas
con una grande corrida,
gritabla mi caporal:
--Les encargo a mi querida.—
todos grandes y livianos,
Y entre treinta americanos
No los podían embalar.
todos bien enchivarrados,
y en menos de un cuarto de hora
los tenian encerrados.
al momento los echaron
y los treinta americanos
se quedaron azorados.
we left for Kansas
on a big cattle drive,
my far manager shouted,
“Take care of my beloved”…
Five hundred steers there were,
all big and quick;
thirty American cowboys
could not keep them bunched together.
Then five Mexicans arrive,
all of them wearing good chaps;
And in less than a quarter-hour,
they had the steers penned up.
Those five Mexicans penned up the steers
in a moment
and the thirty Americans
were left staring in amazement.
Américo Paredes, A Texas-Mexican Cancionero, 55