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For the music genre, see Tejano music.
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Total population
Unknown (Tejanos of Mexican origin: 7,951,193 (2010 Census)[1])
Regions with significant populations
Texas (Especially San Antonio, El Paso 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 [teˈxano] (Spanish for "Texan") is a term used to identify a resident of Texas of Criollo Spanish or Mexican American heritage.

Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify various groups of people. During the Spanish colonial era, the term was primarily applied to Spanish settlers of the region now known as the state of Texas (first it was part of New Spain and after 1821 it was part of Mexico).[2] After settlers entered from the United States and gained the independence of the Republic of Texas, the term was applied to Spanish-speaking Texans, Hispanicized Germans, and other Spanish-speaking residents.[2]

Since the early 20th century, Tejano has been more broadly used to identify a Texan Mexican American. It is also a term used to identify natives, as opposed to newcomers, in the areas settled. Hispanic people of Texas identify as Tejano if their families were living there before the area was controlled by European Americans.


Spanish government[edit]

Main article: Spanish Texas

As early as 1519, Alonso Alvarez de Pineda claimed the area which is now Texas for Spain. The Spanish monarchy paid little attention to the province until 1685. In that year, the Crown learned of a French colony in the region and worried that it might threaten Spanish colonial mines and shipping routes. King Carlos II sent ten expeditions to find the French colony, but they were unsuccessful. Between 1690 and 1693 expeditions were made to the Texas region, and they acquired better knowledge of it for the provincial government and settlers who came later.[citation needed]

Tejano settlements developed in three distinct regions: the northern Nacogdoches region, the BexarGoliad region along the San Antonio River, and the frontier between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. am area used largely for ranching. These populations shared certain characteristics, yet they were independent of one another. The main unifying factor was their shared responsibility for defending the northern frontier of New Spain. Some of the first settlers were Isleños from the Canary Islands. Their families were among the first to reside at the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar in 1731 (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). Soon after, they established the first civil government at La Villa de San Fernando.[citation needed]

Ranching was a major activity in the Bexar-Goliad area, which consisted of a belt of ranches that extended along the San Antonio River between Bexar (San Antonio area) and Goliad. The Nacogdoches settlement was located farther north and east. Tejanos from Nacogdoches traded with the French and Anglo residents of Louisiana, and they were culturally influenced by them. The third settlement was located north of the Rio Grande, toward the Nueces River. The ranchers there were citizens of Spanish origin from Tamaulipas and (what is now) northern Mexico, and they identified with Spanish Criollo culture.[3]

In 1840 the northern Mexican states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas seceded from Mexico to establish la República del Río Grande (the Rio Grande Republic) with its capital in what is now Laredo, Texas. They did not maintain this status and became part of Mexico again.[citation needed]

Mexican government[edit]

Main article: Mexican Texas

By 1821 at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, about 4,000 Tejano lived in Mexican Texas alongside a lesser number of foreign settlers. In addition, several thousand Mexicans lived in the areas of Paso del Norte (now El Paso, Texas) and Nuevo Santander, incorporating Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.

During the 1820s, many settlers from the United States and other nations moved to Mexican Texas, settling mostly in the eastern area. The passage of a national colonization law encouraged immigration, granting them citizenship if they declared loyalty to Mexico. By 1830, the 30,000 recent settlers in Texas (who were primarily English speakers from the United States) outnumbered the Hispanos Tejano six to one.[4]

The Texians and Tejano alike rebelled against attempts by the government to centralize authority in Mexico City and other measures implemented by Santa Anna. Tensions between the central Mexican government and the settlers eventually resulted in the Texas Revolution. The revolution raised tensions in the area between the Tejano and Texians.

20th century[edit]

In 1915 insurgents in Mexico 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 the English speakers. Numerous cross-border raids, murders, and sabotage took place. The Texas Rangers suppressed the insurrection. Tejanos strongly repudiated the Plan. According to Benjamin H. Johnson, their desire to affirm their United States loyalty resulted in their founding the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). It was headed by professionals, business leaders, and progressives, and it became the central Tejano organization promoting civic pride and civil rights.[5]

Other sources attribute the founding of the organization in 1929 largely to Tejano veterans of World War I who wanted to improve civil rights for Mexican-American citizens of the United States, who were socially discriminated against in Texas. Only American citizens were admitted as members and there was an emphasis on education and assimilation for advancement.[6][7]

In 1963, Tejanos in Crystal City organized politically and won elections; their candidates dominated the city government and the school board. This move signaled the emergence of modern Tejano politics.[8] In 1969–70, a different Tejano coalition, the La Raza Unida Party, came to office in Crystal 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.[9]

Etymology and usage[edit]

In the Spanish language, the term tejano is used to identify an individual from Texas, regardless of race or ethnic background. During the Spanish colonial period of Texas, most colonial settlers of northern New Spain – including Texas, northern Mexico, and the American Southwest – were descendants of Spaniards.[10]

Tejanos may identify as being of Mexican, Chicano/Mexican-American, Spanish, or Hispano ancestry.[11] In urban areas, as well as some rural communities, Tejanos tend to be well integrated into both the Hispanic and mainstream American cultures. A number, especially among younger generations, identify more with the mainstream and may understand little or no Spanish.[citation needed]

Most of the people whose ancestors colonized Texas and the northern Mexican states during the Spanish colonial period identified with the Spaniards or Criollos, those who were born in the colony. Many of the latter find their history and identity in both the history of Spain and the history of the United States, as a consequence of the participation by Spain's colonial provinces (Spanish Texas and Spanish Louisiana) in the American Revolutionary War.

Ethnic and national origins[edit]

[12] Tejanos are those Texans descended from pioneer colonists of the Spanish colonial period (before 1821) or descended from Mexican immigrants.[13]



Main article: Tejano music

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, and with Mexican influences such as Mariachi. The American Cowboy culture and music was born from the meeting of the European-American Texians, colonists mostly from the American South, and the original Tejano pioneers and their "vaquero" or "cowboy" culture.[14][15][16][17]


Main article: Tex-Mex cuisine

The cuisine that would come to be known as "Tex-Mex" originated with the Tejanos. It developed from Spanish and North American indigenous commodities with influences from Mexican cuisine.[18]

Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its widespread 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 specialties. 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 a Tex-Mex development.[19] 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.[20] 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 thata line of demarcation in the "South Texas Mexican" food region is based on those who use "taco-burrito" or "taco-barbecue". 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, barbecue sandwiches are more popular, reflecting the influx of European, European Americans, and African Americans.[21]


Most of the Tejanos are concentrated in southern Texas, in historic areas of settlement and closer to the border. The city of San Antonio is the historic center of Tejano culture; Bexar County and Duval County have some of the historically highest concentrations of Tejanos.[citation needed]

Notable Tejanos[edit]

Colonial era[edit]

Settlers and descendants:

Immigrant Tejanos[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ US Census Bureau: Table QT-P10 Hispanic or Latino by Type: 2010 retrieved January 22, 2015 - select state from drop-down menu
  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. ^ Gutierrez, David G. (March 1995). Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20219-1, p. 9
  7. ^ Orozco, Cynthia E. (2009). No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-72132-6. 
  8. ^ Miller, Michael V. (1975). "Chicano Community Control in South Texas: Problems And Prospects". Journal of Ethnic Studies 3 (3): 70–89. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Tejano History
  12. ^ Hispanics in Texas-Tejanos
  13. ^ Richard G. Santos (2000). Silent Heritage: The Sephardim and the Colonization of the Spanish North American Frontier 1492-1600. New Sepharad Press. p. 385. 
  14. ^ Hill, Gene. Americans All, Americanos Todos. Añoranza Press. 
  15. ^ Chavez’, Gilbert Y. Cowboys-Vaqueros, Origins of the First American Cowboys. 
  16. ^ Clayton, Lawrence (2001). Vaqueros, Cowboys and Buckaroos. 
  17. ^ Loya, Alex. The Legacy and Heritage of the Spaniard Texians. chapter 15. 
  18. ^ Juan de Oñate from the Handbook of Texas Online
  19. ^ Mexicans in the U.S.A: Mexican-American / Tex-Mex Cousine; by Etienne MARTINEZ
  20. ^ Robb Walsh. The Tex-Mex Cookbook (New York, Broadway Books, 2004), XVI
  21. ^ Arreola, Daniel David (2002). Tejano South Texas: A Mexican American Cultural Province. University of Texas Press. pp. 174–175. ISBN 0-292-70511-5. 
  22. ^ Interview with Sarah Shahi
  23. ^ 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