Sept. 3, 2018

CONTACT:    Dr. Alex Hunt, 806-651-2457, ahunt@wtamu.edu

CSAW’s ‘Forgotten Frontera’ Project Receives Major Grant


CANYON, Texas—The Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) at West Texas A&M University received a major grant from Humanities Texas to produce the annual “Forgotten Frontera” community conversation project. This year’s event is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, during Hispanic Heritage Month at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. It is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The "Forgotten Frontera" project began with recognition that the Hispanic history of the Texas 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 and includes chapters from New Mexican pioneers coming east, and South Texas and Mexican populationsCSAW logo 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 Texas Panhandle. The discussion will likely include subjects of crime and punishment, legal representation, individual rights, and incarceration.

“In many ways, 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,” Dr. Tim Bowman, borderlands historian and associate professor of history at WTAMU, said.

The event will feature four panelists—a guest scholar, a WTAMU professor and two community members. The guest scholar will be George T. Díaz, professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His 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 WTAMU 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. J. E. Sauseda is an Amarillo attorney at law who has a passion for civil rights issues. Bowman will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.

The Sept. 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, according to 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,” Dr. Alex Hunt, CSAW director and former editor of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, said.

The genesis of the "Forgotten Frontera" was a 2017 event on the topic of the Hereford migrant labor camp designed by Bowman, who also serves as CSAW’s associate director. The response was so enthusiastic that CSAW sought funding from Humanities Texas to continue the event.

“We are deeply grateful to Humanities Texas for making this programming possible,” Hunt said. “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 fund-raiser to support the program, taking a party of interested history buffs on a field trip to a remarkably well-preserved pastore settlement on the Canadian River.

“This field trip,” Bowman said, “had a galvanizing effect on those who came and saw this archeological evidence of early Mexican settlement. It was really exciting.”

CSAW was founded at the University in 2016 and is committed to furthering the study of the American West at WTAMU and in building interest in the community. More information can be found at CSAW’s website at wtamu.edu/csaw. 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 Hunt at ahunt@wtamu.edu or 806-651-2457.



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