Montana cultural contributions
Latinos have made lasting changes in the state in several industries. Of importance in the field of music are the contributions by Chan Romero to rock and roll and Pablo Elvira to opera. Most towns with a sizable population now hold authentic Mexican restaurants. Cinco de Mayo celebrations take place in several public schools, introducing students to the history of Mexico. Others, such as Professor Chacon, have contributed to creating an awareness of the influence of Spanish architecture on buildings around the state. In Billings the Latino community currently forges cultural contributions by continuing to educate the city and
Mexican Independence Day Fiesta, Billings, 1936. Courtesy of Montana State University, Bozeman Special Collections Library, collection #2336: WPA records, 1935-1942. county commission on the needs of Latinos and by celebrating traditional fiestas. In addition, Billings was one of the first and only cities in the northern part of the United States to hold a Mexican celebration, Mexican Independence Day, as early as 1923.
Of special note is the corrido El campo 47, which a Latino migrant worker shared with Anthony F. Beltramo, professor of Spanish and linguistics at the University of Montana at Missoula, during his research on languages in Montana. The corrido, a typical Mexican folk ballad, is transmitted orally from generation to generation to record events, public or private. It is generally sung during the long hours of picking fruit or other agricultural work. El campo 47, which was brought to Montana in the 1920s from the Southwest and has circulated for decades among migrant workers in the state, records the story of a slain laborer on the Southern Pacific railroad line.
Finally, Latinos in Montana, like Latinos in the rest of the nation, have been contributing to culture with religious practices, Mexican food, and their language and culture. More and more often in Bozeman, local stores carry bilingual signs, and movie stores carry Pedro Infante films. Furthermore, Spanish is the second language at the Adult Learning Center, and the church holds a fiesta Mexicana after each monthly mass.
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