If you want to learn more about the history of Pueblo, the book “Spanish/Mexican Legacy of Latinos in Pueblo County,” written by CSU-Pueblo history professor emeritus, Dr. David A. Sandoval, is a great resource. The book, and a mural painted by David Ocelotl-Garcia, which graces it’s cover, was commissioned by Charlene Garcia Sims of Pueblo’s Library District, who wanted to document Pueblo’s rich Chicano history.
The book and the mural, both released in 2012, are now a part of the Hispanic Resource Center at Pueblo’s main library on Abriendo. The Native Americans, Spaniards, and Mexicans, who have all graced our lands throughout history, make up the triad of culture that we call “Chicano” today, featured in this book.
Published by the library, the book chronicles the lives of families and prominent and colorful Chicanos through the Spanish, Mexican and U.S. eras, and includes stories about civil war officer, Jose Rafael Chacon; well known mountain man and guide, Mariano Medina; early pioneers Jesus Vialpando and Teofilo Pando; and early senator of Colorado, Casimiro Barela.
Sandoval also features what may be the most controversial part of local Chicano history which he calls “Bigot’s War.” In 1936, martial law was enacted to seal the Colorado-New Mexico border to keep Mexicans out of the state, by Colorado’s governor, Edwin “Big Ed” Johnson, who also proposed rounding up illegal immigrants and deporting them.
Martial law signs were put up at the Raton Pass that ordered motorists and trains to stop. Acts became so controversial that hispanics went on strike and before the federal government intervened “Big Ed” called it all off and lifted martial law.
With much of Colorado history written on American white men, Sandoval says that the book is a tribute to his people, who should have been recognized a very long time ago.
The mural “Corazon del Pueblo,” made up of three 6-foot panels, a visual representation of history from Sandoval’s book and the artist’s inspiration, which we have featured in another Pueblo Magazine story.
A video of Sandoval highlight his book and can be viewed at this Spanish/Mexican Legacy of Latinos in Pueblo County link. This video was produced by David Hartkop with music “Tarrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Keith J. Salmon. The library’s Hispanic Resource Center was established to expand the awareness and knowledge of Hispanic Culture and History.
Author, Sandoval is retired from Colorado State University-Pueblo. Artist, Ocelotl-Garcia continues his work in Denver.