Tejano Empire
Life on the South Texas Ranchos
Texas History - Mexican American Studies - Sports
7 x 10, 192 pp.
28 line drawings., Map.
Pub Date: 01/22/2008
Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series
Price:        $19.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2000 Luciano Guajardo Historical Awareness Award, presented by the Webb County Heritage Foundation from Laredo, TX

Tejano Empire

Life on the South Texas Ranchos

By Andrés Tijerina
Illustrations by Ricardo M. Beasley and Servando G. Hinojosa

A silent story is told by the stone chimneys of South Texas that were used to prepare the Tejano ranch meals of an earlier century and by the rifle port holes still seen in crumbling walls that once protected families. It is a story of a life and culture rarely portrayed in standard historical accounts, but to some degree kept alive in literary works and ballads and revealed mutely in the material culture nineteenth-century ranchers left behind. Andrés Tijerina has mined both traditional and nontraditional sources to portray the daily lives of the Texans of Mexican descent who peopled the Nueces Strip and surrounding areas in the period following the Texas Revolution. From then until the major demographic changes of the 1880s, Mexicano-Tejanos laid the foundation for later leadership within the Mexican-American political and business movements. In terms accessible to a general reading public, Tijerina describes the major elements that gave the Tejano ranch community its identity: shared reaction to Anglo-American in-migration, strong family values, cultural loyalty, networks of communication, Catholic religion, and a material culture well adapted to the conditions of the region.As Tijerina shows, the Tejano ranch family was one of the pillars of their community, serving as the inner sanctum of Tejano history, language, and culture. After the introductions historical overview of the region, the chapters address specific elements of the lives people led in the Valley and South Texas: work ways and tools, housing and ranch layouts, family networks and authority patterns, education and the arts, religion and daily prayer. Bold, energetic line drawings by the late Ricardo Beasley of San Diego, Texas, and graceful and accurate detailed drawings by Servando G. Hinojosa of Alice, Texas, graphically portray scenes from South Texas daily life, adding to the books appeal and its worth.As for decades Tejanos kept alive the values, folklore, music, and beliefs of their parents, so now Tijerina makes that heritage available not only to the grandchildren who may have learned shame at their own language but also to the larger population which can choose to appreciate and value that part of the American heritage.

Andrés Tijerina is a professor of history at Austin Community College. He is author of the prize-winning Tejanos and Texas under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836, published by Texas A&M University Press in 1994.

What Readers Are Saying:

This book is recommended for students and aficionados of Texas history. --Colonial Latin American Historical Review

. . . The scope and depth of Mr. Tijerinas research is breathtaking and the detail in which he passes his findings to us is exhaustive. . . . Tejano Empire is a long-needed corrective and valuable addition to the historical record of Texas. Its sure to become a standard reference on Hispanic culture in the state. --Dallas Morning News

A handsome book, beautifully printed, illustrated, and bound... --Book Talk

This is a well-written slender volume . . . Tijerinas book is a rather good narrative for the substance of lives of the early Mexican settlers of Texas. . . . This is admirable work, very thorough. . . . If I were building a new museum in South Texas, or reconfiguring and old one, I would rely heavily on Tejano Empire for how to tell the story of early settlers . . . --LareDos

He offers important contributions as he places ranch life in perspective. --Agricultural History

. . . provides a snapshot of a distinct culture based on Hispanic values. --Western Historical Quarterly

Tijerina eloquently explores the cultural importance of Tejano ranch families in south Texas between 1836 and 1886, arguing that their independence, tenacity, and strong family ties inspired twentieth-century Tejano leaders who founded the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the American G.I. Forum. --SMRC


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