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Latino/Hispanic Culture

Today’s rich Hispanic culture in Arizona exists because, unlike other European conquerors, Spain never wanted to eradicate the Indian people. Instead, Spain attempted to annex whole cultures, a philosophy that allowed for intermarriage and the continuation of both the Spanish and Indian cultures.

By the middle of the 19th century, the populations in most Southern and Central Arizona towns were 50 to 90 percent Hispanic. By the early 1860s, Tucson, a heavily Hispanic community, was an important trade center for the region.

Throughout Central and Southern Arizona, skilled men and women built a prosperous economy using traditional techniques of irrigation farming, ranching and mining. Independent Mexican freighters, dominated by educated Sonoran immigrants, including Esteban Ochoa and Antonio Contreras, and merchants transported most of the goods across Arizona, including provisions for mining camps and army forts.

After the Civil War, as Anglos began migrating into the territory, they often settled in existing Hispanic communities, changing the towns’ names as they went. Rio Salado became Tempe; Pueblo Viejo became Solomonville. But despite the new monikers, the Hispanic influence in Arizona can be felt and seen today in communities throughout the state.

For More Information

Learn more about Latino/Hispanic culture in Arizona at the Arizona Heritage Traveler.

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