First Advisor

Victor C. Dahl

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Mexican Americans -- Oregon, Oregon -- Race relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (118 pages)


Spaniards were the first Europeans to explore the Pacific Northwest coastline, but the only evidence of these early visits is a sprinkling of Spanish place names commemorating the intrepid voyagers. The more than four centuries of recorded history since that time are nearly devoid, of references to Spanish-speaking people, especially Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent (Chicanos). Even the heavy influx of Chicano migrant farm workers in the 1950’s and 1960's failed to attract the attention of historians or social science researchers. By 1970, the Spanish-language population had become Oregon's largest ethnic minority and was exerting influence in most areas of state life. This study documents the depth and diversity of Oregon’s Chicano community and provides an historical context for the movement of Spanish-speaking people into the state.

Even in the strongly Anglo-American milieu of the Northwest, Chicanos have retained their unique blend of Mexican and American cultural and linguistic characteristics. Through social clubs, cultural centers, economic and political organizations and an independent college, Chicanos in Oregon are preserving and proclaiming their heritage. Hopefully, this study will aid Anglo Americans in understanding and accepting cultural differences without prejudice or animosity, and help Chicanos to better appreciate their position in the state.

The dominantly oral tradition of the Chicano coupled with the dearth of standard documentation, primary and secondary, required reliance upon interviews and conversations and generalization upon limited data. Research revealed that the migrant farm worker image of the Chicano has become obsolete as the Oregon population has become settled and primarily urban. If this study provides a frame of reference for and generates interest in further investigation of the migration of Chicanos into Oregon, it will have served its purpose.


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