The emerging Hispanic homeland of the Pacific Northwest : a case study of Yakima Valley, Washington

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The transition of spaces and places by the increasing number of Hispanics in the United States is a topic of growing importance in cultural geography. The degree to which Hispanics integrate, or assimilate, into Anglo culture plays a vital role in such transformations. This research examines the different avenues of Hispanic assimilation and non-assimilation in the Lower Yakima Valley in Washington State. These avenues consist of economic, structural, cultural, and spatial assimilation, as well as the Hispanic representation in the cultural landscape. Fieldwork in the Valley, combined with census data from the last two decades suggests that Hispanics are assimilating into Anglo culture structurally, spatially, and economically, but not culturally. Due to the fact that this area is majority Hispanic, the maintenance of this culture has a distinct impact on the cultural landscape, as well as the Anglo population. By defying the traditional model of assimilation, a new Hispanic homeland is emerging in the Pacific Northwest. Mexicans in the Valley have created a place that, in their own words, "feels like home." The schools and businesses in these communities are faced with unique challenges, the solutions to which differ greatly from places where Hispanics are a minority. As the geographic distribution of Hispanics continues to change, it is likely that other communities will experience transformations similar to those in the Yakima Valley. This research serves to add to the growing literature aimed at benefiting such places.




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