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For the music genre, see Tejano music.
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Total population
6,669,666 Americans
up to 32.0% of the total Texan population in 2000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Texas (Especially San Antonio and South Texas)
American English, Tejano English, Spanish language, American Spanish, Spanglish, Indigenous languages of Mexico
Predominantly Roman Catholic, and also Protestant
Related ethnic groups
Californios, Hispanos, Mexicans, Spaniards, Basques, Canarians, Texians, German Texan

Tejano or Texano (Spanish for "Texan") is a term used to identify a Texan of Criollo Spanish or Mexican heritage.

Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify different groups of people. During the Spanish Colonial times and pre-Anglo colonization, the term primarily applied to Spanish settlers of the region now known as Texas (first as part of the New Spain and then in 1821 as part of Mexico).[2] During the times of independent south Texas, the term also applied to Spanish-speaking Texans, Hispanicized Germans and other Europeans.[2] In modern times, the term is more broadly used to identify a Texan of Mexican descent. It is also a term used to identify the natives of those regions settled.


Spanish government[edit]

Main article: Spanish Texas

Already in 1519, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda claimed Texas for Spain. However, Spain paid little attention to the province until 1685. In this year, Spain received news of the existence of a French colony in Texas that could endanger Spanish mines and shipping routes, so that the king of Spain sent 10 expeditions to the province to look for a French colony, that never came to see. Between 1690 and 1693 several Spanish expeditions took place in Texas, who helped obtain a better understanding of the place for the provincial government and the settlers who later came to Texas.[citation needed]

When settlers first arrived in Texas, Tejano settlements arose in three separate regions. The Northern Nacogdoches region, the BexarGoliad region along the San Antonio River, and the Rio Grande ranching frontier between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. These populations shared certain characteristics yet they were also independent from one another. The main unifying factor for these separate regions was their shared responsibility of defending the Tejas frontier. Some of the first Tejano settlers were from the Canary Islands. Their family units were among the first to settle at the Presidio of San Antonio de Béjar in 1731 (Modern-day San Antonio, Texas). Soon after, they established the first civil government in Texas at La Villa de San Fernando.[citation needed]

Ranching was a major activity in the Bexar-Goliad settlement, which consisted of a belt of ranches that extended along the San Antonio river between Bexar and Goliad. The Nacogdoches settlement was located in the North Texas region. Tejanos from Nacogdoches traded with the French and Anglo residents of Louisiana, and were culturally influenced by them. The third settlement was located North of the Rio Grande toward the Nueces River. These Southern ranchers were citizens of Spanish origin from Tamaulipas and Northern Mexico, and identified with Spanish Criollo culture.[3] They were of the same stock as the original Tejano settlers. The Northern Mexican states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas seceded from Mexico in 1840 to establish la República del Río Grande (the Rio Grande Republic) with its capital in what is now Laredo, Texas. However, their much anticipated political marriage with their Tejano kin did not come to fruition.[citation needed]

Mexican government[edit]

Main article: Mexican Texas

In 1821 at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, there were about 4,000 Tejanos living in Mexican Texas alongside a lesser number of immigrants. In addition, several thousand Mexicans lived in areas of Paso del Norte (now El Paso, Texas) and Nuevo Santander, such as Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. In the 1820s many settlers from the United States and other nations moved to Texas from the United States. The approval of the national colonization law, promoted the immigration of new settlers to Texas, so by 1830, the 30,000 settlers in Texas outnumbered the Hispanos Tejanos six to one.[4] The Texians and Tejanos alike rebelled against the attempts of centralist authority of Mexico City and the measures implemented by Santa Anna. Tensions between the central Mexican government and the settlers eventually led to the Texas Revolution. After the revolution, many were dismayed by the treatments they received at the hands of Texians/Anglos, who suspected and accused the Tejanos of sabotage and of aiding Santa Anna.[citation needed]

20th century[edit]

Texas insurgents in Mexico in 1915 wrote a manifesto that was circulated in the town of San Diego, in South Texas. The manifesto "Plan de San Diego" called on Hispanics to reconquer the Southwest and kill all the Anglo men. Numerous cross-border raids, murders and sabotage took place. The Texas Rangers suppressed the insurrection. Tejanos strongly repudiated the Plan and affirmed their American loyalty by founding the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). It was headed by professionals, businessmen and modernizers, and became the central Tejano organization promoting civic pride and civil rights.[5]

In 1963 Tejanos in Crystal City organized themselves, won the elections, and took control of the city and the school board. This move signaled the emergence of modern Tejano politics for a few years.[6] In 1969–70 a different Tejano coalition, the La Raza Unida Party, took control of the city. The new leader was José Angel Gutiérrez, a radical nationalist who worked to form a Chicano nationalist movement across the Southwest, 1969-79. He promoted cultural terminology (Chicano, Aztlan) designed to unite the militants; his movement split into competing factions in the late 1970s.[7]

Etymology and usage[edit]

In the Spanish language, the term "tejano" is simply the term to identify an individual from Texas regardless of race or ethnic background. During the Spanish Colonial Period of Texas, before Texas became a part of independent Mexico in 1821, most colonial settlers of Northern New Spain, including Northern Mexico, Texas and the American Southwest, were descendants of Spaniards.[8]

Tejanos may variously consider themselves to be Mexican, Chicano /Mexican-American, Spanish and Hispano in ancestral heritage.[9] In urban areas, as well as some rural communities, Tejanos tend to be well integrated into both Hispanic and mainstream American cultures, and a number of them, especially among younger generations, identify more with the mainstream and may understand little or no Spanish.[citation needed]

While a large number of the people who have come mostly from Central and Southern Mexico since the Mexican Revolution up until the present have drawn their identity from the mestizo culture (a mix of indigenous and Spanish cultures) and had their history and identity in the history of Mexico, most of the people whose ancestors colonized Texas as well as most of the present-day Northern Mexican states in the Spanish Colonial Period drew their identity from the Spaniards, or Criollos. Many of these find their history and identity in the history of Spain and of the United States as a consequence of the participation of Spain and its colonial provinces of Texas and Louisiana in the American Revolution.

In general, regional inter-cultural differences have caused many people of colonial Tejano descent to identify more with the people of Louisiana, which was a Spanish colony, rather than with the people of Central and Southern Mexico.

Ethnic and national origins[edit]

[10] Tejanos are those Texians who are descended from colonists who pioneered Texas in the Spanish Colonial Period before 1820 or Spanish Mexicans.[11]



Main article: Tejano music

In direct relation to this distinction, genuine Tejano music is related to, and sounds more like, the folk music of Louisiana, known as "Cajun music", blended with the sounds of Rock and Roll, R&B, Pop, and Country, with Mexican influences such as Mariachi. The American Cowboy culture and music was born from the meeting of the Anglo-American Texians who were colonists from the American South and the original Tejano Texian pioneers and their "vaquero" or "cowboy" culture.[12][13][14][15]


Main article: Tex-Mex cuisine

The cuisine that would come to be "Tex-Mex" originated with the Tejanos as a hybrid of Spanish and North American indigenous commodities with influences from Mexican cuisine.[16]

Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of melted cheese, meat (particularly beef), beans, and spices, in addition to corn or flour tortillas. Chili con carne, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, enchiladas, and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions. A common feature of Tex-Mex is the combination plate, with several of the above on one large platter. Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is also an original Tex-Mex invention.[17] Cabrito, barbacoa, carne seca, and other products of cattle culture have been common in the ranching cultures of South Texas and northern Mexico. In the 20th century, Tex-Mex took on Americanized elements such as yellow cheese, as goods from the United States became cheap and readily available.[18] Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin. Cumin is often referred to by its Spanish name, "comino."

A common Tex-Mex breakfast dish served is a "breakfast taco." A breakfast taco consists usually of a thicker-style flour tortilla or traditional corn tortilla and is served using a single fold as opposed to the burrito-style method of completely encasing the ingredients. Some of the typical ingredients used are: eggs, potatoes, cheese, beans, bacon, sausage, barbacoa, and can be eaten using variations of these elements. Breakfast tacos are traditionally served with an optional red or green salsa.

Daniel D. Arreola states that there is a line of demarcation in the "South Texas Mexican" food region, using a "taco-burrito" and "taco-barbecue" line of demarcation. To the west of this line, Mexican food served in a flour tortilla is often called a burrito, due to the influence of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. To the south and east of this line, the same food may be simply called a taco, showing a Tex-Mex influence. To the north, this food gives way to barbecue sandwiches reflecting the influx of European, Southern Anglo, and African Americans.[19]


The population of the majority of Tejanos who descend from the original Spanish settlers and those who descend from recent early and mid-20th century Mexican immigrants are concentrated in Southern Texas. San Antonio, is the historic center of Tejano culture, and Bexar County and Duval County have some of the historically highest concentrations of Tejanos.[citation needed]

Famous Tejanos[edit]

Tejanos of Colonial origin[edit]

Settlers and settlers´s descendants:

Other Tejanos[edit]

Tejanos of immigrant (not settler) origin or descent

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Texas - QT-P9. Hispanic or Latino by Type: 2000 U.S. Census Bureau
  2. ^ a b http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/txweb/txwebmain.htm
  3. ^ Tejano Origins in Mexican Texas
  4. ^ "Tejano Patriots". bexargenealogy.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Benjamin H. (2003). Revolution in Texas: how a forgotten rebellion and its bloody suppression turned Mexicans into Americans. 
  6. ^ Miller, Michael V. (1975). "Chicano Community Control in South Texas: Problems And Prospects". Journal of Ethnic Studies 3 (3): 70–89. 
  7. ^ Jensen, Richard J.; Hammerback, John C. (1980). "Radical Nationalism Among Chicanos: The Rhetoric of José Angel Gutiérrez". Western Journal of Speech Communication: WJSC 44 (3): 191–202. 
  8. ^ Census and Inspection Report of 1787 of the Colony of Nuevo Santander performed by Dragoon Captain Jose Tienda de Cuervo, Knight of the Order of Santago, with Historical Report by Fray Vicente Santa Maria.
  9. ^ Tejano History
  10. ^ Hispanics in Texas-Tejanos
  11. ^ Richard G. Santos (2000). Silent heritage: the Sephardim and the colonization of the Spanish North American frontier 1492-1600. New Sepharad Press. p. 385. 
  12. ^ Hill, Gene. Americans All, Americanos Todos. Añoranza Press. 
  13. ^ Chavez’, Gilbert Y. Cowboys-Vaqueros, Origins of the First American Cowboys. 
  14. ^ Clayton, Lawrence (2001). Vaqueros, Cowboys and Buckaroos. 
  15. ^ Loya, Alex. The Legacy and Heritage of the Spaniard Texians. chapter 15. 
  16. ^ Juan de Oñate from the Handbook of Texas Online
  17. ^ Mexicans in the U.S.A: Mexican-American / Tex-Mex Cousine; by Etienne MARTINEZ
  18. ^ Robb Walsh. The Tex-Mex Cookbook (New York, Broadway Books, 2004), XVI
  19. ^ Arreola, Daniel David (2002). Tejano South Texas: A Mexican American Cultural Province. University of Texas Press. pp. 174–175. ISBN 0-292-70511-5. 
  20. ^ Interview with Sarah Shahi
  21. ^ thelwordonline.com

Further reading[edit]

  • Alonzo, Armando C. Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734-1900 (1998)
  • Hubert Howe Bancroft. The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft,
  • Buitron Jr., Richard A. The Quest for Tejano Identity in San Antonio, Texas, 1913-2000 (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Chávez, John R. The Lost Land: The Chicano Image of the Southwest (Albuquerque, 1984)
  • De León, Arnoldo. They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821–1900 (Austin, 1983)
  • De León, Arnoldo. Mexican Americans in Texas: A Brief History, 2nd ed. (1999)
  • García, Richard A. Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class: San Antonio, 1929-1941 1991
  • Montejano, David. Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (1987)
  • Navarro, Armando. Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Movement in Texas (University of Texas Press, 1995)
  • Ramos, Ratil A. Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861 (University of North Carolina Press, 2008)
  • San Miguel, Guadalupe. Tejano Proud: Tex-Mex Music in the Twentieth Century (2002)
  • Taylor, Paul S. Mexican Labor in the United States. 2 vols. 1930-1932, on Texas
  • Stewart, Kenneth L., and Arnoldo De León. Not Room Enough: Mexicans, Anglos, and Socioeconomic Change in Texas, 1850-1900 (1993)
  • de la Teja, Jesús F. San Antonio de Béxar: A Community on New Spain's Northern Frontier (1995).
  • Tijerina, Andrés. Tejanos and Texas under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836 (1994),
  • Tijerina, Andrés. Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos (1998).
  • Timmons, W. H. El Paso: A Borderlands History (1990).
  • Weber, David J. The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest under Mexico (1982)


  • Guglielmo, Thomas A. "Fighting for Caucasian Rights: Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and the Transnational Struggle for Civil Rights in World War II Texas," Journal of American History, 92 (March 2006) in History Cooperative
  • MacDonald, L. Lloyd Tejanos in the 1835 Texas Revolution (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Márquez, Benjamin. LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization (1993)
  • Marquez, Benjamin; Espino, Rodolfo. "Mexican American support for third parties: the case of La Raza Unida," Ethnic & Racial Studies (Feb 2010) 33#2 pp 290–312. (online)
  • Navarro, Armando. La Raza Unida Party: A Chicano Challenge to the U.S. Two Party Dictatorship (Temple University Press, 2000)
  • Quintanilla, Linda J., “Chicana Activists of Austin and Houston, Texas: A Historical Analysis” (PhD University of Houston, 2005). Order No. DA3195964.
  • de la Teja, Jesus F. ed. Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas (Texas A&M University Press, 2010) 274pp excerpt and text search


  • Martinez, Juan Francisco. Sea La Luz: The Making of Mexican Protestantism in the American Southwest, 1829-1900 (2006)
  • Matovina, Timothy. Guadalupe and Her Faithful: Latino Catholics in San Antonio, from Colonial Origins to the Present (2005). 232 pp.
  • Matovina, Timothy M. Tejano Religion and Ethnicity, San Antonio, 1821-1860 (1995)
  • Trevino, Roberto R. The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston. (2006). 308pp.


  • Blackwelder, Julia Kirk. Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio 1984. excerpt and text search
  • Deutsch, Sarah No Separate Refuge: Culture, Class, and Gender on the Anglo-Hispanic Frontier in the American Southwest, 1880-1940 1987
  • Dysart, Jane. "Mexican Women in San Antonio, 1830-1860: The Assimilation Process" Western Historical Quarterly 7 (October 1976): 365-375. in JSTOR
  • Fregoso; Rosa Linda. Mexicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands (2003)


  • Garcia, Richard A. "Changing Chicano Historiography," Reviews in American History 34.4 (2006) 521-528 in Project Muse