Strangers in their own land

Tourist from around the country come to visit the famous Alamo mission chapel

Tourists from around the country come to visit the famous Alamo mission chapel in San Antonio, Texas to remember the Battle of the Alamo. (Andre M/Wikimedia Commons)

From 1565 and the settlement of St Augustine to the early, 1880s PBS reveals life in poverty and in power for early Latino American settlers.

Watch the full video of PBS’s “Latino American’s,” Episode 1, “Foreigners In Their Own Land.”

“Foreigners” is an hour-long documentary film about Latino Americans and highlights an overlooked American conquest.

This video is a history lesson with pretty pictures and clips with little to no entertainment value. On the other hand, their research is credible and documentation thorough. Public Broadcasting Service provides a lesson on how not to behave with others.

The video begins a bit heated showing modern clips of Latino Americans in groups either protesting, rallying or giving a speech. In fact, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made an appearance briefly thanking his supporters.

Directly after the intro, the actual beginning starts at year 1565 and never gets past the 19th century.

Each time the film advances to a new era, it also introduces a historically influential person of whom most have never heard.

During the first era tells the story of an orphaned girl being sold like a puppy at the age of seven. Remarkably, her story is remembered in history because she taught herself to write. She would write about living in a mission and moving from one to the other. Because of her skills, the leaders of the church allowed her to take on responsibilities that other women were for forbade.

Next, the story of war hero Juan Seguin charges us into the second era. Seguin is a Texas-born businessman, who struggles about doing what is right for the new world and doing what is right for Texas.

He makes his choice after losing his comrades at the Battle of the Alamo. He later held many titles including military commander of west Texas and mayor of San Antonio. Sadly, in the end, the film dramatically shared how life’s direction left him a wanderer.

The last important historic figure is Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. The story of Vallejo is a hospitable one. He was a general in the Mexican Army and a Californian. After a group of scruffy Americans broke into his home he welcomed them with drinks and showed them to his parlor. The Americans arrested Vallejo and declared California an independent republic. While in prison Vallejo thought of his family and his culture, he had to protect both from such intrusive strangers.

In the end, PBS explored life in Western America before American inference and during American started battles. Sadly, Latino Americans lost over half of their original land. Unlike the Native Americans who lost almost everything, the Latinos still had land and culture to keep.

A good point was presented by David Montejo, a professor of ethnic studies at Texas University, who spoke on behalf of all people that have lost land in America and, like the film’s character Juan Sequin, dreamt of staying.

“What is our claim to being member of this society?” said David Montejo, professor of ethnic studies.

Photo credit: By Andre m (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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