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History Of Chicanos

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The Beginnings of Chicano History

The major significance of Chicanos in America is widely believed to have started around 1848. Yet historians have traced their roots back to the upper Paleolithic Period. During this period, people begin dwelling around the Iberian Peninsula and surrounding areas. Villages formed and existed without the need of growing agriculture. The abundant sources of food allowed for the inhabitants to live freely among the lands. Despite this, crops were still grown and cultural development began to emerge. This ultimately led to the growth of complex civilizations.

The first civilization to form was the Olmecs which took place around 1200 B.C. These people were said to have lived in the lowland areas of Mesoamerica around the Pacific and Gulf Coast. The discovery of artifacts around this area helps support this theory. The reason for the expansion of this civilization is debatable. Some historians say it was religion. Others say it was because of agriculture developments. Soon after, the Aztecs formed in Mesoamerica. They settled in the Valley of Mexico around the fourteenth century. Eventually the Aztecs built the great city of Teotihuacan. They worshipped gods and built great temples for them. The Aztecs lived relatively undisturbed until the fifteenth century. At this time, Hernan Cortes arrived in their area. He was on exploration with the support of Spain. The ruler of the Aztecs, Montezuma II, feared that Cortes was the returning god Quetzalcoatl. This ultimately led to an up rise. Cortez leveled the city and established Spanish colonies throughout the area. This resulted in the spread of Catholicism and development of the "New Spain." Eventually Nuno de Guzman, a leader in Spain, took over expansion in the area; however Guzman was stripped of his power. Don Antonio de Mendoza, a leader in Rome, soon took over. He provided political stability which changed the area forever.

The Spaniards soon started spanning out in all directions and established settlements. In these areas missions were built in order to spread Catholicism. The Texas frontier was the site of some of the first missions. The Spanish also moved into present-day Arizona to enrich their religious crusades among the natives. Eusebio Kino, the Father of Arizona, set up the first missions in that area. Father Serra of Majorca abandoned his classroom duties and set up the first missions in Alta California. He eventually established twenty-one missions in that area. His efforts paved way for a strong mission system that helped sustain the surrounding areas. According to some historians, the missions played a minor role in expansion.

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