Talk:Southwestern United States

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I suggest moving this page to the less cumbersome title "Southwest United States". Any objections? -- Infrogmation 06:38, 27 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Hawaii? Really?[edit]

Never in my life have I heard Hawaii referred to as a Southwestern state (Its Not) - and I live in the Southwest. Certainly they do lie to the south and west, but are characteristically different from the standard qualifiers of "southwest" status - things such as hispanic heritage, pueblo Indians, weather, etc. I moved Hawaii to the "rarely included" since I can't speak for everyone on this matter, but it's obvious to me that when someone speaks of the Southwest, they're not talking about the Pacific Island culture of Hawaii. --ABQCat 19:47, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Indeed, more generally, the "widest interpretation" referred to in the figure is outrageously wide, far wider than any interpretation I have every heard, wide to the point of being bizarre. The text is somewhat less outrageous, but I would say Arkansas, Lousiana and Kansas are rarely included in the southwestern states in the the same sense that Iran is rarely included in Europe. Which is to say that they are not. They may be near the region, they may have some subtly measurable-- influence from, but they are not a part of the region.
The whole thing seems as though someone who had no knowledge of American cultural geography decided to make an article describing, literally, the southwestern corner of the country, rather than a cultural and historical region.
I would like to change it but don't know how to remake the map, and don't want to make the text inconsistent with the map.
Pekinensis 04:08, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I slapped something together. Image quality is not great at full size, but this is what I have time for. I would like to put this in the article, and change the text to match. Thoughts?
Pekinensis 17:20, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)
No comments, so I've done it.
Pekinensis 22:10, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I like the overall changes but I have two suggestions. Oklahoma should be colored as Sometimes included on the map, because it is include in the region as much as Texas is. I also think that the removal of the Rarely included states from the map is a postive step, because there presence will only confuse people. However it is important note that the Rarely included states are someties considered part of the region either from a historical perspective or from a previous interpretaion such as is the case of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The idea of the Southwest evolved out of this area and while Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, as well as the Eastern regions of Oklahoma (such as Little Dixie) and East Texas are best categorized as part of the Southeast today, it is important to mention that they were the first US region to be called the Southwest. This might best be accomplished in a section towards the end of the article. -JCarriker 01:44, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for your input. I am not familiar enough with Oklahoma to make any judgment on this, although I had assumed that a necessary condition for inclusion would be having once been a part of Mexico. There are many possible Southwests. I would like to step away from the page rather than get involved in the philosophical questions of definition. My time is probably better spent with the vegetable articles. Or my job. Or my wife.
Good luck.
Pekinensis 02:17, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Page Move[edit]

According to new policy approved by Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. regions this page should be moved to Southwestern United States, and likewise its related sub-articles as well. Thanks. -JCarriker 10:19, May 21, 2005 (UTC)

Since there seem to be no objections. I'm going through with the move. -JCarriker 08:13, May 22, 2005 (UTC)

Rewrite and/or rename[edit]

This article confuses at least three areas that are or may be called the Southwest (and really should be named that instead of generically Southwestern United States). I would suggest someone knowledgeable (not me) break out the various regions from this article or at least put them in separate sections until expanded sufficiently. The suggested regions are as follows: CPret 16:01, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)


The original Southwest consisted of those states with ties to the Confederacy but considered part of the West, not part of the South proper (Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Indian territory; later Oklahoma). By the latter part of the twentieth century, only Texas and Oklahoma were still considered Southwest. The territorial bands related to the development of Jazz in Kansas City were all based in this region [1], [2], [3]. Honky-tonk music also developed in this region.

The original southwest was anything west of the Mississippi, and although it is technically incorrect, at the time it was thought that the missisippi was in the geographical center of the continent —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:42, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Desert Southwest[edit]

Desert Southwest was a name given to the desert areas of the southwestern United States to differentiate it from the previous Southwest. It applied mainly the area covered by the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and California and by the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona [4], [5]. It is sometimes applied to all of Arizona and New Mexico combined despite the pine forests which cover much of both states. Often the name is shortened to Southwest leading to some confusion with the other Southwest. And sometimes all four states (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona) are referred to under the single title of Southwest.

Geographic southwest[edit]

The southwest geographical area of the United States is all that area south of 39 deg. 50' latitude and west of 98 deg. 35' longitude ([6] or pick your own favorite geographic center of the United States). All those states laying partially of wholly in the area might be considered part of this southwest but it is bound together by no single cultural, historical or other geographical significance.

I have no problem with the proposed rewrite, ideally it is what the article should already be, and I think you (CPret) should participate in any rewrite that takes places, there are very few people who are interested in having quaility regional articles, and even then there are over 20 regional articles. Renaming is problematic because international readers have proven they will object to similar moves in the past as Amerocentrism, perhaps unfairly, even when it is the primary usage. -JCarriker 16:20, Jun 21, 2005 (UTC)

This is an good point (qualifying what is meant by the Southwest), although I would take issue with the notation that the states of the "original" Southwest (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana particularly) were considered part of the "West" and not the South. In fact, the opposite was true...although AFTER the War between the States, with the cattle boom and all, Texas came to be considered "western" in many ways. However, the West has never been a coherent cultural region (as opposed to the South, New England, etc), but rather a part of the country largely characterized by post-bellum settlement, so therefore Texas was still considered part of the South for purposes of culture, religion, and history. Texas is simply the South's West.

Texas and Oklahoma are always counted in Southwest. It is always Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma

>>Although these four states are often grouped together as the Southwest, they are not culturally nor historically a cohesive region. Many times, it seems more done for geographic convenience than anything else. Texas (sans the El Paso area), and to a lesser extent, Oklahoma, are the western South, while Arizona and New Mexico are the southern West. Sure, there is overlap in some areas, but by and large Texas especially is cut from considerably different cloth than the twin states of the desert Southwest. TexasReb 16:03, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

I concur. Most of Texas and just about every portion of Oklahoma has no cultural tie to Utah, Arizona or Colorado. These two states are the western South. Kryan74 (talk) 14:17, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

I do not concur, but even if I did, it doesn't change the fact that you have replies to a discussion that expired eight years ago. Dustin (talk) 17:37, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

I think Texas itself is in two different regions. From what I hear, Dallas (North Texas), Houston (East Texas) and to a lesser extent Austin (Central Texas) are more similar to the South culturally, while San Antonio (South Texas, though on its northern edge) is more Southwestern. El Paso is definitely Southwestern.

Despite this inclusion of Texas into this region Texas is labeled on the Southern U.S. article as 100% Southern (or Solid red on the map). Yet states like Kentucky while they have a little Midwestern influence have to be striped, hypocricy. Louisvillian 17:08, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

The definition of what is the "South", the "West" or the combined term "South-west" has alot to do with ones' own opinion about American regionalism or state provincialism in any given state or locality. You'll have more of a "Southwestern" identity in west Texas (i.e. Midland, Odessa, Abilene, Big Spring, San Angelo or Pecos) than in "cotton belt" east Texas (i.e. Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Lufkin, Tyler and Texarkana). Same applies for the Cal. desert (Palm Springs area) have a deeper meaning of belonging to the "desert Southwest" than in the Central Valleys (from Bakersfield up north to Fresno, Madera or Merced). + Mike D 26 (talk) 17:24, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Colours and appearance[edit]

I have made a proposal to change the colour of the map box, please see the discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. regions --Qirex 05:38, 31 October 2005 (UTC)


I've added an "unreferenced" tag to the page. There are several facts mentioned in the article that are without citation. Hopefully someone with more knowledge of the subject can improve this article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Adhall (talkcontribs) 12:32, 10 May 2007 (UTC).

American West versus American Southwest[edit]

I'm a little unclear on the distinction between the American West and the American Southwest. But then, maybe the terms were always somewhat ambiguous in the first place. Gringo300 05:42, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Chiming in nearly a year later, but, yes, that's right, they are a bit ambiguous, especially the Southwest. The map has it right in that the two states that are always considered the Southwest are Arizona and New Mexico. The others, well, it's not entirely agreed upon. The American West is a broader category, stretching for most people up to the Canadian border, and divided for most into the far West (or Pacific Coast states) and the Mountain West, or Intermountain West. Not sure that makes it less confusing for you! Moncrief (talk) 22:09, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Southwestern United States[edit]

Here in the southwest they have very populaer cities. For example: Las Vegas. That is a part of one of the fastest growing cities in the USA. The west and the southwest are different because the west can be north and south! The south west is only the west south. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:05, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Good basic point. I would qualify a bit by saying that the states which are most often considered "Southwestern" (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona) are erroneously often classified as a coherent cultural region. In fact, the former and latter pairs are quite different in terms of history and culture. Texas (and to a somewhat lesser extent, Oklahoma) are "western South", while New Mexico and Arizona are "southern West", with little classically Southern about them. TexasReb (talk) 13:35, 12 October 2008 (UTC)


I'm sorry, I've lived in the west (at least according to this article; I don't consider Texas to be part of the west AT ALL, since it is in the center of the country, and has far more in common with the Southern states, and was part of the Confderacy) but I've never heard of OKLAHOMA as part of Southwest. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah (along with California) are in my opinion almost ALWAYS included in the American Southwest. But as a westerner who lived in Arizona his whole life, I've never once outside of Wikipedia heard of Oklahoma as a "Southwestern state". It has very little in common with westerners, and far more in common with Southerners than with, say, Arizona or Colorado. Texas is debatable since El Paso is definitely southwestern, but that's only one city, so in my opinion, it shouldn't be included.

I know it doesn't necessarily mean very much, but as a 20-year resident of the Southwest, I agree with this. (talk) 02:52, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
As a native Texan, I definitely agree with the above. Texas is essentially a Southern state. With the exception of the trans-pecos (ala' El Paso) and parts of modern day south Texas, the state has very little in common either historically or culturally with the true Southwest or West. TexasReb (talk) 15:36, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
As a person who was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Arizona, I would say that Oklahoma is rather ambiguous to say the least. Southeastern Oklahoma (a.k.a., "Little Dixie") is definately Southern, Northeastern Oklahoma is ambiguously Southern and Midwestern (much in the same way that Missouri is) and that part of Oklahoma west of OK City is part of the West. Frederick Jackson Turner and other historians have a lot to say about the 100th Meridian (the line that separates the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles from the main part of Oklahoma) being the location where there's a cultural break between the Western US and the rest of the country.--Bayowolf (talk) 17:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

who's entitled to the land not la raza[edit]

the southwest u.s.a. doesn't belong to the spanish or the aztecs or any other native amerindian peoples living in new spain,aka mexico.if anyone is entitled to the land it's the indigenous amerindians{native americans}who lived in that area in 1491,the year before columbus sailed to the new world under the spanish flag and set off the invasion and conquering of the western hemisphere. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:28, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Except that, according to Aztec lore, they came down to central Mexico from a land they called "Aztlan", which is probably New Mexico and/or Arizona.--Bayowolf (talk) 23:13, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

You do realize you are using geographic distinctions that had no meaning in 1491 ("Mexico," "New Spain" " Southwest U.S.A.") (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 20:27, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

Why whole states?[edit]

I noticed that for many of the pages about US regions, there are maps showing which states are regarded as part of those regions. I think it is ridiculous to constrain regions to state boundaries, and the map on this page is great for illustrating my complaint. Texas, Calif., and Nevada are striped to indicate that they are "sometimes" considered part of the Southwest, but I think whoever made the map is confusing "sometimes" with "partly." El Paso is always regarded as Southwest, but Houston never is. Las Vegas is Southwest and Reno isn't. El Centro, Calif. is certainly Southwest, but San Francisco is not. So if states should be striped at all, it should be because of being partly Southwest, not sometimes Southwest (indeed, the latter introduces a temporal element to the state of being part of the Southwest, while my proposed alternative properly changes it to a geographic consideration). So given that states can be regarded as only partly in a region, the question follows, why limit region inclusion to exact state boundaries? Can we not color only the areas of Texas, California, and Nevada that are regarded as Southwest? If the line is hazy, it stands to reason the maps could indicate this visually by graduating the boundaries. Thoughts? Soltras (talk) 00:02, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

From my knowledge on this geographical subject, parts of Kansas and Wyoming have a "Southwest"/"western" moniker, usually limited to the southwestern portions formally of the Republic of Texas, as well within the historical lands of New Spain until 1821 and Mexico (1821-1848). The term "Southwest" has little usage in California, since the state preferrably view itself a "West Coast" region. Be in mind Los Angeles, San Diego and the Inland Empire are originally subdesert climates, thus it would fit the description of what our pop culture sees as "Western" or "Southwest" when it comes to climatology, terrain and landscape before the arrival of mass settlement and agricultural development in So. Cal. + Mike D 26 (talk) 17:21, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
California is both a West Coast state and a Southwest state. This wouldn't be the first time a state would be considered part of two diiferent regions. Look at Georgia, it is both an East Coast state and a Southern state, one state two regions, it's pretty simple. User Soltras is correct about the map thing, it should be as he suggested.--Az81964444 (talk) 04:30, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

This article is ridiculous[edit]

West Texas is part of the southwest, Oklahoma is part of the Great Plains of the Midwest, as is Northern Texas. East Texas is part of the South and South Texas is South Texas, more part of the Midwest than the Southwest. California is in fact a southwestern state. We in Arizona, the heart of the southwest, do not consider the Great Plains as part of our home, therefore Oklahoma should be excluded as well as Texas (in my opinion). Colorado should be excluded also.

If one is to define the southwest not as whole states it would be as follows:

  • Southern California (NO WAY!!!)
  • All of Arizona
  • Southern Nevada
  • Southern Utah
  • All of New Mexico
  • A little bit of West Texas
  • And maybe, a little tiny bit of southwest Colorado, but only maybe.

One more thing, at the intro to this article, it clearly says the Southwest is of hot desert terrain, I have lived in Colorado and was in Northern California a month ago and they are in no way desert regions.

This page needs to be rewritten, the top part mentions all of this information about Texas which is generally not considered part of the region in the first place. --Az81964444 (talk) 04:27, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

I just have to mention that -- while I agree with your general definition of the "Southwest" -- the ONLY part of Texas that can remotely be considered "Midwest" is the VERY far northern Panhandle (i.e. north of Amarillo). The rest of Texas shares little to nothing at all with the generally considered Midwest. And that includes Kansas and Nebraska. TexasReb (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:49, 31 December 2009 (UTC).
Yes, the page could be much improved. I know one good source that can be used, a book on the Southwest by D.W. Meinig. I'll try to rewrite the main definition with an actual reference citation. We need sources not our own opinions. The article's focus on deserts and vegetation seems strange to me. A historical-cultural focus would make more sense to me. Meinig's book takes that approach. I'm sure there are other good sources out there that can be used to improve the page. Pfly (talk) 09:55, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

this is my first time writing on wikipedia so if i break some unspoken norm, please forgive me. As far as this whole southwest page, someone with no clue wrote this. The vegitation? spend a winter in the white mountains of arizona and tell me how one of the largest stands of ponderosa pines in the world is "hot dry desert". Also the wildlife? Some of the largest elk in the United States are found all across northern Arizona and New Mexico. [azcowpuncher] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Azcowpuncher (talkcontribs) 02:00, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

The vegetation section should be entirely removed or re-written. Some species mentioned are Texas variants of otherwise Southern flora (oaks, cedars) and most of the bushes and cacti mentioned do not exist naturally until you get into far west Texas. Central Texas is in a transition zone for climate that is uniquely Texan but still has more in common with the South vs Southwest, i.e. Post Oaks, Live Oaks, Loblolly Pines, cottontail rabbits, average humidity, (and historic plantation homes). But if we're using flora & fauna to define the Southwest in Texas it doesn't start until you reach the far western parts, west of the Hill Country where the oaks and cedars disappear, and the climate becomes completely semi-arid. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Stonetlee (talkcontribs) 01:30, 29 December 2009 (UTC)
I definitely agree on the vegetation portion! No disrespect to the original writer, but you are very correct. The vast majority Texas flora and fauna is NOT that of the true Southwest. In fact -- on a related tangent -- I argue the ONLY reason Texas can be considered "Southwestern" at all is because of the original definition...which meant the western/frontier part of the South. Texas (and to a lesser extent, Oklahoma) does not belong -- historically or culturally -- with the Interior Southwest states of New Mexico and Arizona. Much less with Nevada or Utah. Texas is Southern, in essence. Anyway, I will do a brief edit and re-write job which can be improved on later. Will that work? TexasReb (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:05, 31 December 2009 (UTC).

A to-do list[edit]

Some articles on US regions are fairly well done and could be emulated for breaking this article out into sections (it currently has none). New England is a well organized article. Midwest isn't bad. Most are rather poor. Some ideas on sections for this page:

  • (Regional) Geography / Definitions
    • Core Southwest (eg, New Mexico and Arizona, but not strictly to state lines)
    • Core subregions (eg, Northern New Mexico; Central Arizona; Southern Corridor, El Paso and Tucson; Northern Corridor and Navajolands, etc)
    • Interregional links (eg, Las Vegas as pivotal link with southern California; Texas links in east and southeast New Mexico; links to main region of Mormon settlements; link to Midwestern Kansas agriculture etc in northeast New Mexico; etc)
  • History
    • Prehistoric era
    • Spanish era
    • Mexican era
    • American era, 19th century
    • American era, 20th century
  • Physical geography (rivers, deserts, mountains, oases, etc)
  • Geology (note mining stuff--copper, uranium, oil, gas, etc)
  • Climate
  • Demographics (population info and stats)

Other possibilities: Economy, Politics, Culture(s)

I'll at least make sections for the existing text and perhaps expand some, time permitting. Pfly (talk)

Origins of Term and Historical/Cultural Variations[edit]

I recently added a new section concerning this topic as I thought it would be very relevant given that the "Southwest" has evolved in meaning and definition over the years, and is still subject to debate over which states do or do not belong, and whether it is a region it its own right, or two different applications (i.e. a Southwest of the South, and a Southwest of the West). I focussed by statements and sources mostly on Texas (and Oklahoma) as those are the two whose history and culture I am most familiar with. However, I am hoping that some others might add to it with information related to other states generally/sometime considered "Southwestern." TexasReb (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 17:48, 14 August 2011 (UTC).

potential resource[edit]

The Coming Mega Drought; The southwestern U.S. looks a lot like Australia before its nine-year dry spell by Peter H. Gleick and Matthew Heberger Scientific American January 5, 2012 (page 14 in-print). (talk) 01:25, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

See Megadrought. (talk) 04:21, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Regional Geography Section[edit]

This section needs a lot of work. It is very long and unreadable, relies on only one source, and it written poorly so it is difficult to tell what comes from the solitary source and what is original research - especially since there is a lot of weasel writing like "Many people believe", some of which I have removed. There is also just too much of "this state borders this state and that state borders that and that state" - information that someone can clearly see from the map, doesn't need to be reiterated in text. Also some of the claims that certain parts of the Southwest have "links" to other regions of the US smacks of original research and is dubious. Mmyers1976 (talk) 20:59, 10 January 2012 (UTC) Also, discussion of ethnic groups should be in s"demographics" section, and historical information should be in a history section, not geography. Mmyers1976 (talk) 21:01, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Did quite a bit of cleanup that really shortened the section to a more manageable length, so I removed the "too long" template. Also, since I removed the dubious claims that smacked of original research, I also removed the "OR" template. I left the refimprove template as the section still relies on only one source. Mmyers1976 (talk) 21:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Texas and Oklahoma[edit]

A good map showing the locations of some major battles of the Indian Wars fought in the Western US and their associated military posts.

By all historical definitions, Texas and Oklahoma are part of the West. Both Texas and Oklahoma play a major role in Old Western history so considering them part of the south (for whatever reason) is really incredible. I can understand why people might associate northeastern Texas with the South but as for the rest it was certainly Western in culture, history and atmosphere. Texas is the origional home of the American cowboy and the cowboy is the most popular image that came out of the Old West. The great cattle drives of the West went from Texas north to Kansas (which is a Western/Great Plains state). There were also so many range wars and conflicts with gunfighters and Indians. Also Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California all share a similar culture due to the Spanish colonial/Mexican influence. Texas joining the Confederacy should have nothing to do with any of this, Arizona was part of the Confederacy too but it is by no means a Southern state, just a Western one, or, more specifically, a Southwestern one (there were plenty of Confederate sympathizers in S. California too). It seems some people have failed to recognize the Mississippi River as the natural border between the Eastern and Western States (The South is part of the Eastern states and the Mississippi is usually recognized as the border between East and West, Minnesota and Louisiana are split in half by the river so they aren't really considered western states, especially Louisiana). The first major migration of American settlers west of the Mississippi went to Texas in the 1820s and 1830s (which is rightfully the beginning of the Old West period). Oklahoma is not a Southwestern State but a Midwestern state, a Southern Plains state like Western Texas, meaning part of the Great Plains (where the buffalo roam, the Great Plains are another major area of importance in Old Western history). Even West Texas could be considered part of the Midwest, but if not then part of the Southwest, or both. Overall I'd say Texas is much more of a Western state than an Eastern (Southern) state not only in terms of geography but because of history and culture. I think the map needs to be changed to show this (Texas and Oklahoma should be in red to show they are often considered part of S. West, or, the West in general). Texas is difficult because of its size and its border with the East (Louisiana) but Oklahoma is not and will never be a southern state, culturally, historically, or geographically (its located right in the middle of the freaking county! :). The only reason I can think of why Oklahoma is sometimes (wrongly) considered part of the South is because of the removal of the Eastern Indians there in the first half of the 19th century and the fact that the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) was governed for a time from Fort Smith, Arkansas, maybe I'm wrong? Sure the removal spread Southern Indian culture (including Black Indian culture) but not white culture (that didn't come until the Land rushes of the Old west). If someone is interested in responding please do so here and not on my user page.

PS: There is no article for the Southern Plains so I linked it to the Southern plains buffalo article (I just felt I should leave some reason behind for that:). Also, if you really are interested, make sure you check out the links!

Thanks--$1LENCE D00600D (talk) 00:05, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Texas (and to a lesser extent, Oklahoma) are essentially Southern states, not western states. Their history and culture (including speech, politics, church membership, culture, settlement patterns, etc) were mostly shaped by forces from the American South, not the Rocky Mountain West or Interior Southwest (i.e. New Mexico and Arixona). Those states (of the true West) did not even become so until long after the character of Texas had been shaped, and thus they could not possibly have influenced Texas...unlike did the southeastern pioneers who formed the overwhelming majority of new settlers both before and after the War Between the States, and brought with them their attitudes and culture. A common misconception -- IMHO -- is that, when it comes to Texas (and again, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma), that "South" and "West" are mutually exclusive of one another. Of course Texas is a "western" state. So is Kansas. But that doesn't mean the former is still not essentially Southern, just as the latter is not still essentially Midwestern. Point is, Texas is western, yes, but in the same way Tennessee is "eastern." Texas is also "Southwestern", but as in the sense of "western South". That is, where the basic elements of Southern history and culture are blended with traits of the frontier western era. Far as that goes, the prototype of the Texas cowboy was a progeny of the Old South cattle drovers, not the Mexican vaquero. And Spanish-American and Native American culture were not the major players in Texas' development. This is a much different "Southwest" than that of New Mexico and Arizona which are the "southern West", with little to nothing classically "Southern" about them. Also, Arizona was *not* a member of the Confederacy. Parts of it and New Mexico were first declared a territory (Arizona Territory) by the Confederate government via Texans who attempted to claim it for the South, but that didn't last very long. All in all, given all this, it should be no surprise that -- according to the most extensive regional self-identification studies ever done -- that the large majority of Texans (and a slightly smaller percentage of Oklahomans) consider themselves to live in the South and think of themselves as Southerners; while the vast majority of Arizonans and New Mexicans do the same with the West. Texas is Southern. TexasReb (talk) 19:23, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Hi there, native Texan, took Texas History several times, including at the college level, and read a lot of Texas history and Texana material, traveled extensively throughout the state, even to the Big Bend area that most Texans never see, so thought I'd weigh in here. I have to say that when someone named "TexasReb" says emphatically "Texas is Southern", his handle indicates he may have a preference for the South that is going to slant his opinion. Yes, Texas is Southern. But yes, Texas is also Southwestern. I think in order to answer this question we have to take into account three factors: first is physical location on the map, second is topography/climate/ecology, and third is culture/history.

  • On the first issue, we can see that the state, taken as a whole, is not a western (small w) state, but a central state. Really only the Trans-Pecos region could be called part of the western third of the continent. It is obviously also a southern (small s) state. From a purely cartological point of view, it is a south-central state, not a southwestern state, when taken as a whole. That was simple enough.
  • Now let's look at the topography/climate/ecology point of view. Generally we think of the quintessential southwest as being arid with a lot of topographical relief and exposed rock, with the dominant flora being that of deserts and xeric (dry) shrublands, things like cactus, juniper, mesquite. The South Plains (from San Antonio south), and the Edwards Plateau, which starts at the Balcones Escarpment (near Austin and San Marcos) all have these characteristics, enough that they can rightly be called part of the Southwest, and of course everything west of the Edwards Plateau, such as the Trans-Pecos region, also qualifies as Southwest. Probably this would extend northward up to the Llano Estacado, which would more likely be Great Plains that Southwest. Now this Southwest landscape in Texas does not have necessarily regular boundaries, there may be fingers of this that extend outward from the main body of this area, including the Fort Worth area to the north, Amarillo Area to the northwest, and Fayette County to the east, which qualifies because erosion patterns and transport of plant and animal species from the Edwards Plateau by the Colorado River have given it a more Southwestern character, as can be found at Monument Hill and Kriesche Brewery State Historic Sites in LaGrange. As for the rest of Texas, the Llano Estacado, most of the Panhandle, and North Texas (most of the DFW area) are in the Great Plains, characterized by prairie ecosystems. The Piney Woods of East Texas extending down to Houston are definitely Southeastern and reminiscent of the Deep South, Southeast Texas is reminiscent of Louisiana, and a Deep South-like ecology is found at least down to the lower Brazos River valley.
  • Now on to historical/cultural. The original culture of Texas was of course Native Americans. We had the Caddo who were definitely a Mississippian-like (Deep South) culture, and we had many Plains Indians like the Comanche and Apache. We also had the Karankawa who were arguably a Caribbean Basin culture. But then in the Big Bend area we had the Chisos, a Uto-Aztecan people, and also the Tigua, a Puebloan people. Pueblo Indians are certainly very characteristically Southwestern, so that is a very strong point in favor of a Southwestern claim for Texas. In fact, there is evidence of other extinct Puebloans in Texas as well. Another strong point in favor of Texas's Southwestern claim is its first European inhabitants, Spaniards, and their mission system they established, with several excellent examples of missions in San Antonio today. Though Spanish missions were found outside the core Southwest, they were strongest in the Southwest, and the very strong mission system in San Antonio is evidence of the Spanish impact on Texas culture. Their legacy of many Spanish place names in Texas also contributes to Texas' Southwestern claims. Now East Texas and the earliest Anglo-American culture in Texas in the Brazos River valley were decidedly Southern, with a plantation economy dependent on slaves and producing cotton, rice, and sugar cane in the Antebellum Era. However, even this part of Texas differs from the South in that it did not share the same hardships during the Civil War and Reconstruction, having been spared any major military campaigns. The rise of the beef industry, which created Cowboy Culture, a significantly Southwestern phenomenon that borrows a lot of technology, culture, and terminology from New Spainish and later Mexican vaqueros, affected the entire state in the Reconstruction era, even the large cities of Houston, Galveston, and Dallas that were more Southern in culture, creating here a blend of Southern and Western. Though the most populated area of Texas, the eastern third to half, was certainly firmly Southern in culture, foodways, and identity before the Civil War, a Western identity started to take hold there after the war, and the Texas Centennial celebrations in 1936 firmly cemented this. Before the Centennial, much of Texas still saw themselves as chiefly Southern, but for several years before 1936 the Texas Centennial Exposition committee fairly bombarded the state and the nation with marketing that capitalized on Texas' cowboy culture and associations with the Wild West, all very popular in Western movies. It's no accident that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a very Western-themed event, started in the 30s. After that, all Texans, even those living in the eastern portion of the state, embraced a Western identity. Also, the ubiquitous popularity of Tex-Mex, a cuisine very different from Southern food, and the dominance of beef in Texas barbecue, demonstrate that Texas foodways are a thing apart from Southern foodways and culture.

Texas is ecologically and culturally a complicated state with areas that are more Southern, and areas that are more Southwestern, but with blurry boundaries, and so to deny Texas a place as part of the Southwest is to do both Texas and the Southwest a disservice. Mmyers1976 (talk) 17:49, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

I can't believe I missed this for so long. LOL Oh well, in any event, here is my reply:
First of all, my screen moniker is actually related to the War Between the States. That is, that I believe the South had the best constitutional arguments on its side...regardless of whether or not secession itself may have been rash, foolhardy, and unwise. So you made a presumption without basis. Now, enough of all that and back to the real point.
No, my contention that Texas is essentially a Southern state is based on quite a few years of study/considerations -- both formal and self-researched -- and looking at the "Big Picture". I concluded that when all things are considered, that the state, as a whole, belongs to the American South in terms of regional affiliation, for a myriad of reasons. To name a few: General history, settlement patterns, linguistics, church membership, politics, overall culture, foodstuff (particularly the origins and the prevalence of what might just be called "down home cooking". And perhaps most important of all the fact that -- in two of the most extensive surveys ever done on the subject -- a clear majority of Texans surveyed considered themselves to live in the South and thought of themselves as Southerners (I can send these to you if you like).
Also, I might add that I had a double-major in college, history being one of them, with an emphasis on Texas. Don't get me wrong. I am under no illusions at all that this makes me any more an expert on things "Texan" than anyone else, only that I don't lack in that area myself. As you say, it is a complicated subject, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion/outlook on it. After all, if it were so clear-cut, then it would have been settled years ago! LOL Now then, to your points in order of presentation (although some of the topographical/ecological/climatic and cultural/historical are split up for clarities sake):
  • While I see your point, it also begs a few things worthy of mentioning here. Yes, geographically speaking, Texas is a south-central state. (by the way, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi are also classified as "South Central" by the U.S. Census Bureau). But anyway, more to the point, any state directly east of Texas, particularly those east of the Mississippi River are properly in the "southeastern" part of the country by that criteria. However, that fact doesn't negate them being part of what has traditionally/historically been known as "The South." And neither does a direct south-central location preclude Texas (even though certainly it contains frontier western characteristics that is lacking in the eastern South).
  • I have always agreed that the one definite thing that -- although somewhat limited in scope -- that "bonds" parts of west Texas to parts of the interior Southwest states is topography. Likewise, North Texas and the panhandle as being similar to the plains states. However, these aspects pale in comparison to larger considerations of history and culture, which are really the key factors in regional groupings. After all, many states share similar topography but are not part of the same region in the latter sense. For instance, Tennessee and Ohio, or western Kansas and Nebraska with eastern parts of the Rocky Mountain States...
Let me just pass on an excerpt from the article "The Southwest Defined" (edited by Joseph Carleton Wilder) and published by "The Southwest Center" at Tucson". Incidentally, some of this backs up a few points we agree on above concerning physiological features in Texas:
"There should be much less of an argument regarding the Southwest's eastern and western boundaries. Texans may not like it, but there is no convincing or substantial physical and qualified cultural evidence that the Southwest extends eastward beyond the 104th Meridian West..."
  • The presence of Native Americans in the area we now know as Texas is questionable in the way of a true claim to a Southwestern identity -- as in a shared regional kinship with the interior SW states of NM and AZ -- as are the origins of the first European settlers. For one thing, to really get to the meat of the matter, it is essential one begin with determining a starting point. Sure, we can go back to the first inhabitants, but how relevant is it, really? I contend, not much. As what it really boils down to is simply the presence of certain groups in an area which was not known as Texas at the time...but simply a mass of land, then a colony, which would later become the state itself (just like any other state). So what really needs to be looked at as per the general subject (IMHO) is from the time Mexico opened it up to American settlement. This was really the beginning of modern day Texas. On a related tangent, here is an excerpt from Raymond Gastil's classic work "Cultural Regions of the United States" (where he placed almost all of Texas in a sub-region of the "Greater South" called the "Western South"). He wrote:
"Unlike the Interior Southwest, neither aboriginal Indian nor Spanish-American culture played a central role in the definition of the area. The people of Texas are mostly from the Lower, Upper, and Mountain South and these Southerners easily outnumbered the Spanish speaking and Indian people even before the state joined the Union. Therefore, when we refer to a large Spanish-speaking population in Texas, we are primarily speaking of a relatively recent immigrant population, quite different from the core areas of the Interior Southwest."
  • No one ever said that the Spanish did not leave an obvious imprint on what would later become the State of Texas, and yes, missions, etc, were one of them. However, I refer back to "The Southwest Defined":
However, the Spanish did explore and settle much of southern Texas, and that fact plus close historical ties with Mexico, remains the most legitimate -- and only -- claim the rest of Texas can present as a credential for membership in "the Southwest." And in many other ways Texas simply doesn't qualify, despite such vestigial Hispanic enclaves as San Antonio and Nacogdoches...Place names in southern Texas and California suggest a rich and enduring Hispanic heritage in those two states. But following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, hordes of white Americans rushed into these Hispanic areas of Texas, and, even though white Americans totally dominated these parts of Texas, they continued to use many existing Spanish place names. Most of California's Spanish place names were designated by Anglo real estate developers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in an attempt to capitalize commercially on the state's romance that visitors and newcomers to the region found so "quaint" and attractive. A meaningful cultural presence of Hispanic traditions cannot be derived merely from Spanish place names. And other qualifications- primarily physiographic, climatic, and prehistoric-preclude Texas and California from being placed within "the Southwest."
  • Just to preface, it seems like you -- in making your case -- are proceeding from the premise that the "southeast" and "South" are synonymous. You are correct in that Texas did not suffer greatly (physically) from the War. But then again, neither did Arkansas or Florida. And certainly that contributed to a "difference". For one thing, because it emerged relatively unscathed, it was much easier for Texans to rebuild and move on. And it was to Texas where many southeastern pioneers, looking to get a new start from the devastation back east, headed to begin anew. This was one of the largest westward migrations in history and it was overwhelmingly these pioneers from the southeast who settled the state, with West Texas of particular note. These Southerners brought with them their history, culture, religion, dialect, and general attitudes. The impact on Texas was tremendous; it was by far greater than any other group. Yes, they had to adapt (especially those who settled west Texas) to a new environment, and this made some differences in lifestyles and ways of making a living. But it didn't alter their basic Southern impact on the area.
  • Reconstruction was a much different matter than the physical aspects of the War upon Texas, and I am not sure how you come by your assertion that the state escaped most hardships during Reconstruction. In fact, it was actually one of those states that suffered most of all. For one thing, Gen. Phil Sheridan oversaw military rule in Texas, and he made no secret of his ingrained dislike of Southerners in general and Texans in particular. Texas was the second-to-last-state to be readmitted to the Union, and in large part because the legislature flatly refused to comply with some of the demands for such. One of these was that secession be declared "null and void ad initio" (from the beginning). The furthest they would go was to declare it so as a result of the war itself. To do otherwise would, they felt, label Confederate Texans -- for the present and in the eyes of their descendants -- as traitors. This they flatly refused to do. Finally, a compromise was reached which simply declared the ordinance "null and void", with no qualifiers either way.
  • As to the cattle boom and the cowboy culture? Yes, that was a commodity (cattle) that gave a big boost to the economy. But even that was traceable to the War, specifically the Vicksburg campaign. Called the nailhead that held the two halves of the Confederacy together, it was the shipping point for the herds driven east to feed the Confederate armies. When it fell, with the market to the rest of the South cut off, and most of the Texas men off fighting, the herds multiplied and were just there for the taking when the conflict was over. And it was not only returning Texans, but also migrating southeasterners who took advantage and many made a fortune, and others became cowboys. And that brings up another point. While in is indisputable some habits were derived from the Mexican vaquero, it was the Old South "drover tradition" that clearly dominated in Texas (not surprising as that was where the majority came from). A goodly part of them were former Confederate soldiers or sons of the same. The saddle preferred by these Texas cowboys was the "McClellan" style, not the Mexican design. A good book on this is Terry Jordan's "Trails to Texas; The Southern Roots of Western Cattle Ranching". This was quite different from that of other states, and dis-similar in many ways from the old vaquero habits and lifestyles. The average Texas cowboy was a Southerner in both habits and outlook. In fact, some of those legendary confrontations and gunfights in frontier Kansas were traceable to animosities between former Confederate cowboys and their previously Union opponents now marshaling.
  • The "Western identity" you speak of was -- and is -- certainly there, but not quite in the way it is presented. For one thing, a "Southern and Western" identity were not and are not mutually exclusive terms when it comes to Texas and Texans. And no one ever thought of it as being so. Whereas it definitely is in NM and AZ where there is nothing classically "Southern" about them.
  • But yes, Texas certainly capitalized on the "Western craze" (which was a real novelty). One contemporary Texas historian had these astute comments to make:
"After the Civil War and Reconstruction, state leaders looked to rebrand Texas, repackaging its identity as forward-looking, modern, and progressive. Toward this end, Texas possessed something that its sister states in the Confederacy lacked. The first was its Texas Revolution identity, and Texans could also (escape the Southern past) by blending in with the cowboys, cattle drives and gunslingers. Since the 1980s, there's been a needed correction, reintegrating our Southern legacy into the state's narrative. It's important to remember that Texas is many things. Its identity is complex and cannot be fully understood within the limited Southern, Western or independent context...East Texas and the South do not abruptly end in Dallas. Dallas is only 30 miles from Fort Worth and the two share cultural similarities...Fort Worth certainly has authentic Western characteristics. In branding itself Western, the city is simply doing what much of Texas did during the '20s and '30s...Finally, it's no secret that the Old West and Western destinations remain very

popular with tourists." (LOL)

  • Once again it seems as if you are equating southeast as being synonymous with South. In fact, there is an eastern and western South, and although differences are there, the similarities are stronger in the whole scheme of things. The South has never been a monolithic region. The Upper South is different from the Deep South (of which East Texas is the westernmost extension). Even north and south Alabama have differences. South Louisiana (Cajun country)is definitely a thing unto itself. What does exist is a part of the country that shares certain historical and cultural features that clearly offset it from other regions within.
This brings up another point about Texas during the 20's and 30's capitalizing on a "Western craze". This second one goes back to the 1960's, centering in on when Lyndon Johnson was running for president. As he said later, he did not believe a Southerner could ever be elected, thus he instructed his staff to downplay Texas' Southern roots and emphasize its Western history. And he used his tremendous influence with business leaders to have them do the same thing. But privately, LBJ was under no illusions. And after he left office he wrote his memoirs ("The Vantage Point") he had this to say on the subject:
"I did not believe, any more than I ever had, that the nation would unite indefinitely behind a Southern president...My experience in office confirmed this reaction. I was not just thinking about the derisive articles about my style, my clothing, my manner, my accent and my family...I was also thinking of a more deep-seated and far-reaching attitude -- a disdain for the South that seems to be woven into the fabric of Northern experience...I was never part of the Old Confederacy. But I was part of Texas. My roots were in its soil. I felt a special identification with its history and its people. And Texas is part of the South -- in the sense that Texas shares a common heritage and outlook that differs from the Northeast or Middle West or Far West."
  • As to Texas cooking? Tex-Mex? It is a blend of both Mexican and Southern ingredients, and very different from authentic "Mexican food" as well as that popular in the SW states (although Tex-Mex is often called "Mexican" within the state itself). Check this site out:
No offence, but so far as BBQ goes? Nothing is "demonstrated" at all by pointing out that Texas BBQ tends to be beef rather than pork (although pork is the most popular in East Texas). It is not surprising that beef is the general norm in the state -- although pork is widely available -- for the simple fact cattle were numerous and cheap! Although some die-hards in the eastern Deep South might argue that only pork is the real McCoy, there is really nothing to back this up save a "purist" attitude arising from that it was the far eastern South where BBQ first took hold and hogs were the staple. No, the key thing is the "process" not the meat, and the general and most associated BBQ tradition in Texas is decidedly Southern in origin. That is, slow cooked, and smoked.
And as to other assorted items, the type of "old fashioned" or "country cooking" so popular in the state has direct Southern roots. Chicken-fried steak, fried okra, fried squash, pan-fried chicken (with gravy made from the leavings and poured over mashed potatoes), fried catfish, fried ham, chicken n' dumplings, greens, sausage and gravy, buttermilk biscuits, peach cobbler, and of course, black-eyed peas (especially on New Years Day, which is a uniquely Southern custom) and so on. Of course, most of these are available in other regions as well, but not nearly as popular as in the Southern states.
  • Finally, I fully concur that Texas is a "Southwestern" state but -- except for the trans-pecos region -- my opinion is that it is a "Southwest" quite different from the "Southwest" of New Mexico and Arizona (and a few surrounding Western states if one includes them in the definition). This is not doing either Texas or the Southwest a "disservice". It is simply acknowledging differences in both history and culture of the states which have a claim to being "Southwestern." I submit Texas is "western South" That is, where the South itself is flavored with the qualities of the frontier post-bellum West. Whereas New Mexico and Arizona are "southern West", a geographic location in the southern tier of the US, whose identity is clearly of the West. There is no reason for anyone to think a slight is being given to any of the states or the concept of the Southwest itself. All have a proud claim to this Southwestern heritage, even if in different realms of membership credentials. TexasReb (talk) 02:21, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Wheh! That was long, but very well-written, Texasreb. By the way, meant no disrespect over your name, just thinking, and now confirmed by your post, that you are very well-educated in the history of the Confederacy, and have given a lot of thought to Texas' vital role in it that convinces you of Texas' Southernness, while the focus of my studies have been on the empresario era, the War for Independence, the Republic, and then skips over to post-bellum Texas. For some reason I have just never been that interested in the Civil War. And then I've been traveling a lot in far west Texas, Big Bend, Fort Davis, ext. So that's where my biases lie. But anyway, my personal belief is Texas is neither fish nor fowl. It's not the Southwest, it's not the South, it's just Texas. My other issue is I've never been a fan of arbitrary boundaries, whether it's saying the Renaissance began on this date and ended on this date, or arbitrarily drawn lines on a map. It's like one of your sources says the Southwest goes no further east than the 104th Meridian - I hate statements like that because that's just a line arbitrarily drawn on a map because some dude in England said "where I am is 0 degrees, and we are going to have nice evenly spaced lines of longitude going out from here." Time and geography don't really work that way, they don't conform to boundaries humans draw, whether they are meridians or state lines, and there are usually no abrupt beginnings or endings. Part of me wants to be stubbornly resistant to the very concept of defining the Southwest by "these are the states of the Southwest." The Southwest is a region apart from state boundaries and I think probably already too much focus has been placed on which states qualify as Southwestern, including by me, and so I'd rather focus on the new discussion of defining it that was started at the bottom of the page, and in that my goal will be to define it more by naturalistic things like ecotones, geological features, and to a lesser extent cultural features (only because as a biologist I'm more comfortable with the naturalistic features, so I'll leave the cultural stuff to others) and leave states out of it. Mmyers1976 (talk) 23:41, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Mmyers, for a very civil, courteous, and well written post. Although we might quibble a bit over a few things, it is always welcome to exchange with someone who knows their stuff! Thanks for the reply. I enjoyed reading it. Best regards! TexasReb (talk) 01:12, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

The table, "Largest cities and metropolitan areas"[edit]

1) This table shows Mesa, Arizona with a 2010 U.S. Census population of 245,628. The correct number is 439,041 according to the referenced link,
2) The header, "Metro Population of 4 aspects." Unable to locate an explanation of what, "4 aspects," is. --formeat 06:10, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

my 2 cents[edit]

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I can testify people in Northern California assume "the Southwest" is somewhere else, probably with cactuses. Unlike maybe some people in East Texas, we wouldn't have been offended at being called Southwesterners, the idea would just never occur to us. If there was any concept of a regional identity, it would've been Redwood Country.

But of course this article isn't about me and my anecdote. I guess geography can be like pop culture articles, where everybody thinks they're an expert and passion is inversely proportional to actual knowledge. Foogus (talk) 19:26, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

"largest cities" lists don't match the map[edit]

The article is objectively a mess, contradicting itself from one sentence to the next. High Desert "is synonymous with this region" but then also includes Wyoming. The phrase core southwest is in quote marks but not cited to anything, then there's "five main Southwestern states," then the second-biggest city is outside that list. The rationale for including El Paso and Vegas but not San Antonio or L.A. should probably be explained.

It seems like maybe there was a hard-and-fast definition in an earlier version of the article, that has been removed, but is still implied by the information presented. At this point it reads as if a writer who lives in "Phoenix, the largest metropolitan area in the southwest," is arbitrarily drawing lines around his chosen capital. And that can't be right. Foogus (talk) 19:29, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Defining the American Southwest - redux[edit]

Hi everybody. Dustin V. S. has brought up some very good points in a discussion which was borne out of the five largest cities in the region. When you look at this article, there is little cited material regarding what is or is not included in the somewhat nebulous term, Southwestern United States. According to the Learning Center of the Southwest, the historic definition is that of archeologists, and is not defined by today's state boundaries. It can be found in the fourth paragraph here. The Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research defines it as CA, NV, CO, UT, AZ and TX. Muhlenberg College, which has an extensive program on the SW, limits it to the desert SW states of AZ and NM. American defines it as CA, NV, UT, AZ and NM (although only parts of some of those states).

There are most likely other valuable sources. What I propose is that we reach a consensus on what the basic definition should be, based on source material, not opinion. Once we reach that consensus, I'll volunteer to re-write the whole article. We'd include what variations there are regarding the definition, but we don't go into depth on anything other what we define (again based on source material) as the Southwest. I also think that we should also consider not being bound by current state boundaries. I'm going to invite editors which have contributed to the article over the last year or so, to solicit their opinions: Foogus, Mmyers1976, Texasreb, Jayjg, discospinster, r000t, MusikAnimal, Gilliam, Rjensen, IronGargoyle, Formeat (I went back through this year, other editors, please feel free to tag others who might be interested) - Thoughts? Onel5969 (talk) 00:35, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

that's an interesting question -- although I confess I grew up in Arizona and consider myself a south-westerner. It's very hard to exclude Texas from the list. From a historian's point of view, Tennessee used to be part of the Southwest, and had a "Southwestern University." the school changed its name, but Tennessee cannot really change its history as an integral part of the historic Southwest. the Scholarly journal based at the University of North Texas, Military History of the Southwest, has, in good Texas style, enlarged its sphere of influence and is now titled Military History of the West Rjensen (talk) 00:51, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
@Onel5969: I must disagree with you regarding parts of Oklahoma; parts of it have historically been considered part of an alternative variant of the "Southwest" which is independent from the "Far West". See this film for proof that the definitions vary: - A simple search of "Southwestern United States" indicate that Oklahoma and Texas are commonly included with the definition. (Here is another random example: I do not think we should make it solely dependent on the desert regions. This article is not "Desert Southwest" or "Deserts regions of the United States"; it is "Southwestern United States". The same is easily applicable to further east parts of Texas, but I, myself, (for Texas) would exclude many regions along and east of Interstate 35 as being too different culturally and climatically different (with regard to climate, especially Gulf regions). I believe that certain parts of Oklahoma might need consideration (but less than Texas because Oklahoma is way smaller), especially considering the amount of cultural, geographic, climatic, etc. variation from one side of the state to the other. Now Colorado? Well, it, like Oklahoma, has a lot of variation depending on exactly where in the state you are, so it too might require additional consideration from one part of the state to another. But regardless, decisions should not be made solely based on climate. Dustin (talk) 02:25, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
@Dustin V. S.: - At this point I'm not advocating any single definition for what to include, simply opening up a discussion about it. I do agree with you that it shouldn't be based on climate. Using that parameter alone, you couldn't get a single entire state included. What I am asking for, is for folks to provide cited examples of what professional experts define as the Southwest (as per the 3 examples I cited above. Although I realize I didn't provide links for two of them, which I will now correct above). Once we have several reliable definitions, we can begin to discuss how to flesh out the article: what to include, what to leave out (and how we explain its exclusion). As the article now stands, what is and is not included is more like arbitrary opinion, rather than cited facts. An example of what I mean is the article Northern California. This, on the surface, would appear to mean one thing, from a geographical perspective. However, over the years, it has come to mean something different, and that difference is backed up in the citations in the article. Here, I feel we should do the same thing: using the most recent definitions, we base the article on that, and in the history section we briefly touch on all the different variants which have existed. Now, it might not be as cut and dried as the N. CA definition has become, but I think we should endeavor to make it as citable as possible. Onel5969 (talk) 12:52, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Sounds like a worth endeavor. One well-regarded definition of the American Southwest was proposed by archaelologist Erik K. Reed in 1964. It has its limitations since it is an archaelogical definition and doesn't take into account environment, current culture, or political boundaries, so in an improved article it would have to be at best one of the definitions, but I'll put it out here for consideration:

  • "The archaeological Southwest extends approximately from Durango, Colorado to Durango, Mexico and from Las Vegas, New Mexico to Las Vegas Nevada, and from the Pecos River to the lower Colorado River and central Utah. The term “greater Southwest” includes the intermontane arid region south of about Great Salt Lake, as well as the deserts of southern California and Baja California."

Citation: Reed, Erik K. 1964. "The Greater Southwest." Pp. 175-191 in Jesse D. Jennings and E. Nordbeck (eds.), Prehistoric Man in the New World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Mmyers1976 (talk) 19:54, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

  • Well, I guess it is time for me to get in my two-cents worth (which is likely all it is worth! LOL) on an agreed upon definition of the "Southwest." For myself, I believe the definition included in the opening will work...for the simple reason it is all inclusive. Each of the states mentioned have a claim to being "Southwestern." The problem arises when the question of "are these states in the same Southwest?" come up...which it should.
  • The problem with trying to reach a consensus on how "experts" agree on what constitutes the Southwest is simply that "experts" don't agree. The South -- which itself is subject to many different interpretations -- has more of a general consensus -- if nothing else because of the U.S. Census Bureau definition -- than does the Southwest. Simply because the latter does not exist as any sort of official region.
  • I am not trying to "toot my own horn", but that is the reason I wrote the sub-article "Cultural Variations and Origins of the Term." As RJensen points out, Tennessee (and Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas) was/were at one time considered part of the Southwest. Then Texas was added. It literally meant the western part of the South. Then after the Mexican War, and new territories were created and eventually became states (in the early 1900's) they too were part of the Southwest. However, at that point, connections to the South itself were lost. And thus began the confusion.
  • Honestly, I think it is next to impossible to define a coherent Southwest. The best that can be done (at least IMHO) is to

simply list the states of modern day which have a "claim" to it. Yet I do think it very important to note the variations (particularly with Texas and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma) from New Mexico and Arizona, which are Southwestern in every imaginable way, climatically, historically, culturally, etc.

  • Here is an excerpt from an article:


From The Southwest Defined

There should be much less of an argument regarding the Southwest's eastern and western boundaries. Texans may not like it, but there is no convincing or substantial physical and qualified cultural evidence that the Southwest extends eastward beyond the 104th Meridian West. The Llano Estacado clearly belongs to the Great Plains, and the headwaters of the Canadian and Cimarron rivers roll toward the same direction as does the culture of northeast New Mexico face: eastward. Combined with the Southwest's southern boundary coordinate of 29° N., this border would enclose the western two-thirds of the "horn" of Texas, a region which includes El Paso, one of the most "Southwestern" of all Southwestern towns. ...and that fact plus close historical ties with Mexico, remains the most legitimate-and only-claim the rest of Texas can present as a credential for membership in "the Southwest." And in many other ways Texas simply doesn't qualify, despite such vestigial Hispanic enclaves as San Antonio and Nacogdoches.

Current demographic statistics do not provoke any great revision in determining that area which we can call the "Hispanic Southwest." Place names in southern Texas and California suggest a rich and enduring Hispanic heritage in those two states. But following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, hordes of white Americans rushed into these Hispanic areas of Texas, and, even though white Americans totally dominated these parts of Texas, they continued to use many existing Spanish place names. Most of California's Spanish place names were designated by Anglo real estate developers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in an attempt to capitalize commercially on the state's romance that visitors and newcomers to the region found so "quaint" and attractive. A meaningful cultural presence of Hispanic traditions cannot be derived merely from Spanish place names. And other qualifications- primarily physiographic, climatic, and prehistoric-preclude Texas and California from being placed within "the Southwest."

  • So I guess to wind it up, I agree with RJensen that Texas cannot be excluded, but at the same time it needs, almost begs, mention, that we are really talking about two different "Southwests". One the western South (Texas and Oklahoma) and the other the southern West (New Mexico, Arizona in particular, but Utah, and Nevada also). California seems to be "odd man out". It has never been considered Southwestern, even though certain southern parts of it might match in topography. TexasReb (talk) 04:30, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
As messy as it may be, I think ultimately what we are probably going to have to do is break out subsections that describe how various discipines define the Southwest. So there will be a subsection on how archaeologists define the Southwest, one on how ecologists/botanists define the Southwest, how geologists define it, and so on, with a lot of overlap. Mmyers1976 (talk) 22:27, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
There are differences between the southern central/south-central United States and the southeastern United States which the Census calls "South" as well as between the southwestern states and the "pure" western states in the "West". Remove the Census definition and much of this regionalizing falls apart. Logically, the "southern" United States geographically (with regard to latitude and longitude) could either be all states south of Lebanon, Kansas or be all states in about the southern third (if additional areas are defined) of the US, with the western boundary lying on the Pacific. A similar problem could be seen when trying to define "West". There is no solid definition. Perhaps as a way of adding balance, for once, Wikipedia should use what would be considered a worthy source that is not from the Census and to new information. I could imagine either multiple maps or perhaps one many-colored map resulting from this, but it is not good in practice for Wikipedia to base everything off one source. Dustin (talk) 23:13, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
The Southwest should be defined as the area that used to be part of Mexico and previously Spain. This gives the southwest a cultural cohesion, where Hispanic cultures is visible to an extent, although this of course depends on which state one is thinking about. The Southwest should be defined as the region that encompasses the Texas Annexation, the Mexican Cession and the Gadsden Purchase, essentially all the territory formerly part of Mexico. The Southwest is usually associated with those regions. Since the incorporation of these regions into the United States was centuries ago, they don't all retain Hispanic culture, or in a sense a "Southwestern" culture. For example, cities such as Los Angeles, Santa Fe, San Antonio etc. retain a strong Hispanic culture. States such as Nevada and Utah are less associated with the Southwest because they have since been anglicized and don't retain those characteristics, but the are still Southwestern geographically and historically. Arizona and New Mexico are almost always included because their Hispanic culture still id significant, which is why if one notices these states were admitted much later than California or Texas, which were quickly anglicized. Texas subsequently became more associated with the South, at one point it seceded and joined the Confederacy. California, has somewhat seen itself as unique and different, it is much more diverse and a wide array of influences. Colorado, although it was partially part of Mexico, the majority of it was and subsequently in also included in this definition of the Southwest. Southern Colorado has a large Neomexicano population, which has been there since the Spanish era, so it is much more Hispanic. Southern Texas has a deeper Tejano culture, because there are more of them there. This contrasts with Dallas or Houston for example. California's Californio population was relatively smaller to the others, and this is why a Hispanic culture was never deeply permeated in the general culture. That is why Arizona and New Mexico are almost always included, New Mexico in fact has the highest proportion of Hispanics of any state. They are not the majority though. The Southwest should be summed up as California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas entirely. Colorado should also be included by virtue the majority of it was part of Mexico. The Southwest includes these seven states, but it could include portions of Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma, while excluding parts of Colorado. Viller the Great (talk) 01:59, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
While this is all very good discussion, just a quick reminder that Onel5969 intended this section of the talk page as a place to provide sources that define the boundaries of the Southwest (so we could reach consensus on what sources say, and/or how we are going to present all the disparate definitions from the disparate sources in this article), NOT as another section where we all share our opinions on what we think the definition of the Southwest should be. Mmyers1976 (talk) 21:08, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

So, I have provided a source with an archaelogically-based delineation of the Southwest, TexasReb provided a source with a general delineation of the Southwest. I would also suggest that a geologic/geographic delineation of the Southwest would be the USGS's Basin and Range Province delineation. . Along those Lines, I would also say that any areas of the United States which fall into the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts would be in the American Southwest, and therefore they would qualify as ecological boundaries. I think the Mojave Desert would also be part of these ecological boundaries of the American Southwest, with only some minor controversy. Whether the Great Basin Desert qualifies as part of the Southwest is up for grabs. It seems many sources don't agree with this. However all American deserts south of the Colorado Plateau are pretty safely Southwest from a review of the sources, so I think it is a contender for Northern ecological boundary of the Southwest. Western Boundary would be the Tehachapi Mountains in California (western boundary of the Mojave), the US-Mexico Border being the southern boundary, and US Route 385 in Texas being the eastern. Mmyers1976 (talk) 21:17, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Mmyers1976 - That's precisely the point. Until we have several good, independent sources (which I feel we now have), any attempt to delineate the boundaries would really have simply been based on our viewpoints, which are all valid... as viewpoints. Over the next week, I'm going to take a look at the citations which have been provided, as well as a few I have myself. I'll also review what folks have said here in this discussions (as well as the Texas/Oklahoma discussion above). When I think I can come up with a realistic, citable, definition, I'll edit the lead of the article, and ping everyone who participated in the discussion. If we reach consensus, then I can go ahead and edit the article, conforming it to the agree upon definition. Onel5969 (talk) 22:16, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

I also think this map seems to be a fair approximation of the extent of American Southwest that ignores state lines (which I prefer) Mmyers1976 (talk) 19:54, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Beginning of restructuring of the article.[edit]

Greetings all. I've put this off long enough, since it is a bear of an attempt. I've begun the edit on a sandbox. Please take a look at:


I've only worked on the lead and the geography section. But I would specifically like you all to take a look at the lead. If we can get consensus on that, I'll go through the article and make it all conform to the lead. I've actually put the bulk of my reasoning into the lead, since I think in this particular article, it's necessary. I would also continue to include a section on the different variations of what constitutes the Southwest, expanding on what is already in the lead, and including the Southwest Center's discussion above. I will also include an historical perspective of the use of the term, as per the discussion above, so that discussion of OK, KS, and most of TX will be dealt with. I haven't made the changes to the actual article, because if someone clicked on the article while it was under construction, it would make little sense, that's why I'm using that sandbox page. I've gone by the reference material, rather than the discussion, in order to determine the scope, since that's more appropriate. Personally, I would have liked to use the LCAS definition, but that seems to be an outlier. Since there are 3 very good attributions, all with the similar scope, that's what I've put into the lead. Thank you all for your time and effort. I'm pinging everyone who commented in the above discussion, but feel free to ping other editors who have worked on the article. ATTENTION: Mmyers1976, Viller the Great, Dustin V. S., Texasreb,Rjensen. Oh, one last thing, please leave comments here, rather than at the sandbox, so we can have all comments in one place. One other thing - The lead as it exists in the sandbox will need to be edited after the entire article is written, so as to reflect the content in the article. What I need you all to look at is how the scope of the article is defined in the lead. That's the consensus I'm looking for. Cheers. Onel5969 TT me 15:07, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

THANK YOU for all your hard work in doing this. You've really done a great job both with the text and using the sources, and incorporating figures. My two comments at this point would be first, I feel like the Erik Reed definition is being over-emphasized. I'm the guy who found his definition and brought it up here, so I obviously think it should be included, I just think it is a fairly limited definition, limited to the field of archaeology and so doesn't address other definitions of the southwest, so while the most widely accepted definition of the archaeological southwest, isn't the most widely accepted definition of the southwest as a whole. The more I look at it, the more I think that the American Southwest article should have an abbreviated explanation that the definition and boundaries of the American Southwest vary from source to source and between discipline and discipline, with a link to a main article "Defining the American Southwest", kind of like the American Civil War article, instead of going into exhaustive detail, the reasons for all the alternative names, links to Names of the American Civil War. The "Defining the American Southwest" article should break the definition down by fields, with a section devoted to discussion of each field's definition. The fields I have in mind are:
  • Geological/Topographical
  • Ecological
  • Cultural
  • Historical

Again, I applaud your hard work and dedication. I'd like to start to sandbox a new Defining the American Southwest article, but right now I'm crunched for time. Mmyers1976 (talk) 16:37, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for that. I agree it's overemphasized, but that was more for the purpose of gaining consensus on the scope of the article. I think your concerns will be addressed when the article is fleshed out, in the section discussing the other definitions of the southwest (which might form the basis for your intended article). Onel5969 TT me 18:09, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
First of all, I'm sorry I did not respond earlier, as I have been quiet busy these past few moths. I want to congratulate you on your sandbox and the article. You have done an excellent job. The definition can depend on the source, however I feel the map you created accurately shows the Southwest. The area it encompasses seems more reasonable than the many definitions that are out there. Once again, good job on the sandbox and the subsequent implementation into the actual article. Viller the Great (talk) 00:02, 5 August 2015 (UTC)

Regional geography Comment[edit]

How to reconcile the statement "The Chihuahuan Desert is considered the "most biologically diverse desert in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most diverse in the world"" with the statement "the desert has the most diverse plant life of any desert in the world" in the next section about the Sonoran Desert? So, which desert is number one? אביהו (talk) 05:55, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

Hi אביהו - The second statement deals with just plant life, while the first statement takes into account both flora and fauna. One has the most diverse flora in the world, while the other has the most diverse flora and flora in the western hemisphere. One is #1 in the world, while the other is #1 in the western hemisphere. Onel5969 TT me 12:21, 6 March 2016 (UTC)
Hi onel5969,
Thanks for the explanation. אביהו (talk) 15:53, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

Becoming states section[edit]

Two comments:

  1. in the statement "Following the Mexican Cession, the lands of what had been the Mexican territory of Alta California were in flux portions of what is now New Mexico were claimed, but never controlled, by Texas." I do not understand the meaning of "in flux" (maybe because English is only my second language) and it looks that a comma is missing somewhere.
  2. There is a little bit of confusion in the sections starting with "On February 24, 1863", because the next section goes back in time to 1861, then the next section tells about Nevada in 1864 (and 1876), then we go back in time to Arizona in 1862, and then there is a repetition of what happened with Arizona and New Mexico Territory in 1863.

אביהו (talk) 09:07, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

Hi אביהו - First, thanks for your effort on this article. Having a new editor take an objective look is always welcome. Regarding your first point above, "in flux" is an English expression meaning "constantly changing". You're right, punctuation was needed there, but I think a colon is more appropriate, and have made that correction. Your second comment is also well-said, the chronological order was off, I've corrected that as well. Onel5969 TT me 16:30, 12 March 2016 (UTC)
Hi onel5969,
Thanks again, but I think that the chronological order of the section starting with "On February 24, 1863" is still off. I suggest the following instead:
  1. Delete the sentence "On February 24, 1863, the New Mexico Territory was split virtually in half with the creation of the Arizona Territory taking the western half."
  2. Change the following section to:
"Confederate Arizona was short-lived, however. By May 1862 confederate forces had been driven out of the region by union troops. That same month a bill was introduced into the U.S. Congress, and in February 24, 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Arizona Organic Act, which officially created the U.S. Territory of Arizona, splitting the New Mexico Territory at the 107th meridian.
Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864, becoming the 36th state. This was followed by the admittance to the Union of Colorado, which became the 38th state on August 1, 1876."
אביהו (talk) 18:23, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

Sections: From statehood through World War II, The post-war years through the end of the millennium, The 2000s[edit]

All those sections deal almost exclusively with what happened in Colorado. More than that, of all the places mentioned in those sections only Gunnison is below the 39th parallel, so they are not part of the Southwest as is defined in the beginning of the article ("the southern portions of Colorado and Utah below the 39th parallel"). Is it possible to describe what happened in the Southwest during World War II, without mentioning Manhattan Project for example? אביהו (talk) 05:36, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

Climate section question[edit]

The High Desert is defined in this section as "the Mojave Desert, which extends from inland southern California into southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah". It is also "extends into other parts of the Northwest, such as the Red Desert in southwestern Wyoming", but this area is outside the scope of the current article which deals with Southwestern United States. Then come the next sentences which explains that the High Desert "can receive very cold temperatures at night in the winter", but "with the exception of California, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah". But those areas comprise the total of the High Deseret in the Southwest according to the definition?? The same holds true about the "decent amount of snowfall in the winter" that the High Desert receives in winter, but again "with the exception of California, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah". אביהו (talk) 16:43, 18 March 2016 (UTC)

New Mexico[edit]

I think the image should include all of nm.Greeninventor999 (talk) 04:34, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

Not according to the definition adopted by consensus. Onel5969 TT me 14:21, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

Southwestern States: Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New mexico[edit]

Article Text: "The Southwestern United States (also known as the American Southwest) is a region of the United States which includes Arizona, the western portion of New Mexico, bordered on the east by the Llano Estacado, southern Colorado and Utah below the 39th parallel, the "horn" of Texas below New Mexico, the southernmost triangle of Nevada, and the most southeastern portion of California, which encompasses the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.[2]"

Map Text: Though regional definitions vary from source to source, New Mexico and Arizona (in dark red) are almost always considered the core, modern-day Southwest. The lighter red and striped states may or may not be considered part of this region. The lighter red states are also classified as part of the West by the U.S. Census Bureau, though the striped states are not (Texas and Oklahoma).[1]

The article text states this is what it is and the map states "definitions vary" that is not very reliable. Some of the information is wrong too in both the article and picture. The only Southwestern states are Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The other states aren't Southwest they are just West.Sarahann26125 (talk) 18:14, 25 May 2017 (UTC)

Please see the discussion which reached a consensus on this issue last year. Which is reflected in the current incarnation of the article. Onel5969 TT me 18:51, 25 May 2017 (UTC)