Forgotten Frontera

The “Forgotten Frontera” project, overseen by CSAW at West Texas A&M University, aims to recognize and document the history of Mexican American and Tejano history in the Southern Great Plains region, where these people made a significant contribution not adequately recognized in the region’s written histories.

2021 | Forgotten Frontera featuring Cynthia Orozco

Thursday, Oct. 14
  • 3 p.m. Campus Lecture: “Adela Sloss-Vento: Texas Civil Rights Leader, Public Intellectual, and Feminist, 1920–1990.”
    • In person: Thunder 35, JBK Basement
    • Online: Register here.
    • This talk will introduce Adela Sloss-Vento of San Juan and Edinburg, Texas, as one of the most important Mexican American woman civil rights activists in the twentieth century. Her civil rights work and public intellectual work spanned the late 1920s to 1990 across both the Mexican American civil rights movement and the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 70s.
  • 7 p.m. Community Conversation: “Civil Rights, LULAC, and US Diplomacy: Alonso S. Perales, 1898–1960.”
    • In person: Amarillo, Alamo Community Center, 1502 S. Cleveland
    • Online: We will try to share a recording of Dr. Orozco's lecture after the event
    • This talk will introduce Alonso S. Perales (1898-1960) of Alice and San Antonio, Texas, as perhaps the most important Mexican American in the twentieth century. An attorney, public intellectual, and US diplomat, Perales was the principal founder of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), this nation's oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization.

2020 | Forgotten Frontera: "Art, Activism, Community" 

The Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) will present its fourth annual “Forgotten Frontera” community conversation online via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. The topic will be “Art, Activism, Community,” centered on Amarillo’s barrio mural art project.

Timed during Hispanic Heritage Month, the “Forgotten Frontera” program brings together scholars, local experts, and the general public to learn about the under-appreciated Mexican American history and heritage of the Texas Panhandle and Southern Plains region. Previous events have focused on migrant agricultural labor, issues of justice, and the history of railroad development.

This year’s event, inspired by the murals on 10th Avenue and elsewhere in downtown Amarillo, celebrates the role of public art in defining community and drawing attention to that community’s heritage.

The panelists for the event will be Joey Martinez, the Lubbock artist who painted the 10th Avenue murals; Teresa Kenedy, president of the Barrio Neighborhood Planning Committee; WTAMU Spanish Professor Andrew Reynolds; and noted Latino Studies Professor José Limón, now retired from University of Texas Austin and Notre Dame.

The goal of the event is to hear from panelists and to encourage comments and questions from the audience, which may be challenging due to the event’s pivot to online format.

“We have to adapt to the circumstances,” explained CSAW Director Alex Hunt, “but the event is, in our view, too important just to cancel it for this year.”

Hunt elaborated that the event has been successful in bringing together a growing group of scholars and community members dedicated to furthering awareness of Mexican American history in the region.

“It’s a long and complicated history that spans early people who put Spanish names on our map to current populations who came here to work on railroads, the meat packing industry, and in other jobs,” said Hunt. “Their contributions should be better known and appreciated.”

2019 | Forgotten Frontera: "Los Ferrocarrileros del Panhandle de Tejas/The Railroad Workers of the Texas Panhandle"

7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at WT’s Amarillo Center (720 S. Tyler).

This next installment in the Forgotten Frontera series will bring together scholars and community members to recognize and document the history of Mexican American and Tejano history in the Southern Great Plains region, where these people made a significant contribution not adequately recognized in the region’s written histories. In particular, the discussion will focus on ferrocarrileros, including traqueros (track workers), who came to the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But these Hispano railroad workers also had many other positions—including porters, conductors, and engineers—over the generations and on to the present day. Panelist information coming soon. Additionally, the community conversation will feature a gallery of ferrocarrilero photographs taken in Canadian, Texas, in the early 1900s. Dessert and coffee will be served.

The Forgotten Frontera series began in 2018 and is funded through Dec. 2019 by Humanities Texas and West Texas A&M University.

Community Members Invited to Share their Stories, Preserve Regional Mexican American and Tejano History

As part of its "Forgotten Frontera" project, the Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) is collecting community members’ stories in the form of oral histories. While the 2019 theme focuses on railroad workers, stories from a variety of fields such as activism and volunteer activities as well as farm, ranch, field, and construction work are welcome. CSAW would also be interested in preserving or cataloging documents and other items related to this history on the Southern Plains.

Those interested in sharing their stories can contact CSAW Director Alex Hunt at 806-651-2457 or

2018 | CSAW’s “Forgotten Frontera” Project Wins Major Grant

The Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) at West Texas A&M University won a major grant from Humanities Texas to produce the annual “Forgotten Frontera” community conversation event. The 2018 event will be held on September 20, during Hispanic Heritage Month, at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The Forgotten Frontera project began with recognition that the Hispanic history of the Panhandle and High Plains region is significant, complex, and has yet to be written. The region’s story, as the Spanish names on the map attest, runs deep, including chapters from New Mexican pioneers coming east, and South Texas and Mexican populations coming north for opportunity on the High Plains.

The annual Forgotten Frontera event will have a different topic or theme each year. This year, the event, titled “Justice Then and Now,” focuses on the Texas legal justice system and its relationship to Mexican American populations in the Panhandle. “In many ways,” says WT borderlands historian Dr. Tim Bowman, “where we live is part of the Texas and southwest borderlands, and in many ways, too, borderlands are a function of how law has shaped cross-cultural relationships.” The discussion may will likely include subjects of crime and punishment, legal representation, individual rights, and incarceration.

The event will feature four panelists: one guest scholar, one WT professor, and two community members. The guest scholar will be George T. Díaz, professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Díaz’s research has considered smuggling in the borderlands and he is presently composing a history of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the Texas prison system. The WT professor, Dr. Lisa Garza, is department head and professor of Sociology whose work on ethnic relations and social movements is highly relevant to the region. Lilia Escajeda, Amarillo community volunteer and advocate, has deep west Texas roots and has become an important civic leader in Amarillo. Finally, J. E. Sauseda is an Amarillo attorney at law who has a passion for civil rights issues. WT’s Dr. Tim Bowman will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.

The September 20 event will take the form of a discussion panel. Each of the four panelists will have an opening statement that relates to Texas and Texas Panhandle history and issues of justice. Questions from the audience will lead to further discussion of how these historical perspectives bear on contemporary issues in the Panhandle Hispanic community. The concept, says Hunt, is to move from historical concepts to contemporary issues, and from Texas generally to the Panhandle more specifically. “One of our goals is definitely to foster new research into the history of Mexican Americans in the Panhandle,” said Hunt, who is also former editor of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review.

The genesis of the Forgotten Frontera event was a 2017 event on the topic of the Hereford migrant labor camp designed by CSAW Associate Director and WTAMU borderlands historian Dr. Tim Bowman. The response to the event was so enthusiastic that CSAW sought funding from Humanities Texas to continue the event. CSAW director Alex Hunt remarks, “We are deeply grateful to Humanities Texas for making this programming possible. Thanks to the grant, we can expand the depth and the reach of the discussion panel.”

In addition to the Humanities Texas grant, CSAW also conducted a fundraiser to support the program, taking a party of interested history buffs on a fieldtrip to a remarkably well-preserved pastore settlement on the Canadian River. “This fieldtrip,” said Tim Bowman, “had a galvanizing effect on those who came and saw this archeological evidence of early Mexican settlement. It was real exciting.”

CSAW was founded at WTAMU in 2016 and is committed to furthering the study of the American West at WT and in building interest in the community. More information can be found at CSAW’s website: This program was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For further information, contact CSAW director Alex Hunt at or 806-651-2457.


Other Forgotten Frontera Events

Forgotten Frontera Fundraising Tour

On May 26, 2018, CSAW hosted a special access tour of the pastore ruins of Sandoval Plaza, the headquarters of Agapito Sandoval, alongside Corsino Creek in northwestern Potter County. This exclusive tour was hosted by Jay O’Brien.

After visiting Sandoval Plaza, the tour continued to the museum at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.