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Cultural contributions

Starting in 2000, as more and more migrants of Mexican heritage found permanent work in Idaho, community activities such as parades, fiestas, and dances that expressed their unique cultural identity became more frequent. The celebrations continued on an annual basis. Complete with elaborate costumes, music, dances, pinatas, food booths, parade floats, queen contests, and baseball games between labor camps, these fiestas marked a new sense of stability in Idaho’s Mexican American communities. Though newspapers drew a distinction between migrant workers and residents, in truth many of the fiesta organizers already were residents.

Presently, fiestas such as Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, and other cultural activities draw large crowds of non-Latinos, which seems to herald a level of acceptance by the dominant society of the growing Latino presence. The practice of showing appreciation to those who labor in the fields was revived recently by numerous groups working with migrant workers. Farm Worker Appreciation Day is one example of an annual event celebrating southwestern Idaho farming communities. As a capstone to the vitality of Latino cultural influences, Latinos joined forces with a broad spectrum of other interested citizens to raise money for a new Hispanic Cultural Center in Nampa, Idaho. Funded by grants from the Idaho state government, the Mexican state of Jalisco, individuals, and businesses, the new center opened its doors in 2003 and has become the venue for a vibrant display of Latino art, dance, lectures, fiestas, and a variety of other cultural events.


1. Jones, Invisible People; Passel, 6; Wu.

2. Jones and Hodges, Writing the History of Latinos in Idaho, 18.

3. Garcia, 21.

4. Jones and Hodges, A Long Struggle, 54.

5. Gamboa, Mexican American Railroaders, 35.

6. Margo J. Anderson, The American Census: A Social History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988; Idaho Farmer, 13 October, 1921.

7. Ourada, 17, 20; Jones, Shooting of Pedro Rodriguez, 40-55.

8. McConnel to Ross, Governor’s Papers, August 14, 1935.

9. Gamboa, Mexican Labor and World War II, 14-15.

10. Gamboa, Mexican Labor and World War II, 68-73.

11. Gamboa, Mexican Labor and World War II, 83, 84, 112.

12. Salazar, 15; Jones Invisible People.

13. Byrd, 131.

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