News & Resources

Publications & Media

One of Many U.S. Hispanic Cultures

Bob Moya

Bob Moya is a Corporate Services Partner in our Phoenix Office.


National Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30-day period between September 15 and October 15 that was established to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States and to celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture. However, Hispanic culture in the U.S. is not uniform.

All U.S. Hispanics can trace their roots back to Spain. But, most of us also identify with another Latin American country where our ancestors lived before settling in the U.S. There are significant cultural differences among those Hispanics who identify themselves as coming from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, South or Central America, or other parts of the Caribbean. For example, the well-known holidays of 16 de Septiembre and Cinco de Mayo originated in Mexico and celebrate, respectively, the call for Mexican independence from Spain in 1810 and the defeat of a French army invading Mexico in 1862. Both of those holidays are recognized in the U.S. primarily by people of Mexican descent who departed from, or whose ancestors left, Mexico after 1862.

I am part of a Mexican-American group which is referred to as “Manitos,” short for “Hermanitos,” meaning “little brothers.” Both sides of my family are descended from Spanish-speaking groups from Mexico which settled near the Rio Grande in New Mexico during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Both Santa Fe (founded in 1610) and Albuquerque (founded in 1706) are part of this area. Manitos do not generally identify with Mexican history and culture that occurred or developed after the Eighteenth Century.

What we now know as New Mexico was owned by Spain until 1821, part of Mexico until 1848, and then a U.S. Territory until it became the 47th State in 1912. As some say in New Mexico, ‘we did not cross the border, the border crossed us.’ A Spanish dialect called “Manito” is still spoken in many families including my own. My parents’ generation learned English to attend public school and many in my generation grew up with both languages.

Since the various groups of U.S. Hispanics have such different backgrounds, it has been a challenge uniting us behind common themes and causes. It will be interesting to see how Hispanic group consciousness evolves in the future.

Additional information on National Hispanic Heritage Month can be found within the following links:

http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/hhm1.html