The Hispanic community in Denver, Colorado, will be able to appreciate as of this Friday the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, a document that “drastically altered” Mexico and the United States, when a large part of the Mexican territory became United States in 1848 .
Dawn DiPrince, director of the Colorado History Museum, which will exhibit the document from this Friday until May 23, said “only once in every generation” you do have the opportunity to observe the pages of a document signed 175 years ago. years that transformed the life and history of both countries.
“A lot of people in Colorado say, ‘I didn’t cross the border. The border crossed me. These are families who were in what is now Colorado before it became part of the United States. Today they can witness the document that monumentally transformed their lives,” she added.
“It is an affirmation of the experiences of those families with roots of several generations who live in a territory governed at different times by several empires”, she emphasizes.
The expert referred to the fact that a large part of the southwestern United States was under the rule of Spain, France, Mexico and even Texas, when that state was an independent republic.
The document, which sealed the Mexican-American War, is accompanied in the display by artifacts related to the treaty, as well as bilingual educational material. The conflict lasted from 1846 to 1848, with 19 major battles and thousands of deaths in each of the armies.
The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo allowed the expansion of the United States towards the west of the continent and meant for Mexico the loss of a large part of its territory (which included all or part of what are today the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming.)
Despite the time that has passed, the consequences of that agreement continue to impact the coexistence between Mexico and the United States.
For example, the treaty established that the Rio Grande would be the border between the two countries, an area that even today continues to cause friction related to immigration to the United States.
“The Treaty is critical to the world we live in today, shaping our southern international border and changing the identity of those trapped within these shifting borders,” said DiPrince, who is also the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer. .
“The Treaty is still cited in legal cases. For example, in one of the nation’s first school segregation cases, which occurred in Colorado in 1913. And in the decades-long legal battle to protect the community rights of Hispanic families to access to pasture and water in La Sierra, in Colorado’s Rib County,” she added.
In September 2021, after 41 years of litigation, the court ruled in favor of the Hispanics, who regained access to the land to which their ancestors had rights since the signing of the treaty.
The Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty was also mentioned in the case known as “García vs. Vilsack”, a lawsuit filed in 2000 by hundreds of Hispanic farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who denounced that this federal agency discriminated against them, among others, of the treaty.
Although that lawsuit was struck down in 2002, the lawsuits continued until 2011, when the USDA implemented changes that allowed Hispanic farmers to access loans and services, they had not previously had access to.
Beyond its use in court, the treaty has other impacts on people’s lives today, DiPrince said, including “multigenerational displacement of Latino families, discrimination when buying homes, discrimination in urban renewal cases, forced cultural assimilation and gentrification.”
As for the document, described as “irreplaceable” by DiPrince, its pages are “fragile”, which is why in some cases digital images are attached so that one can appreciate “the authenticity of the original pages is more emotional than intellectual.”
The expert emphasized that “it is not necessary to study history” to appreciate the new exhibition” and anticipated that among the visitors there will be “multigenerational families” who not only still experience the consequences of the treaty, but also “have that knowledge transmitted from generation to generation that can teach us to understand the impact of the treaty”.
“In some ways, it’s hard to imagine these old handwritten pages wielding so much power over the lands and lives of so many in this part of the world, but this treaty dramatically altered the lives of many families who now make their homes in the south of Colorado,” she said.