Miners & Mayos
Communities of working people that exist simultaneously in both the US and Mexico are older than the border itself. Before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo took most of the US southwest from Mexico in 1848, placer miners -- gambosinos -- migrated between Sonora, Arizona and Alta California. Their descendents still live in both countries. The old gold mining communities of Sonora are disappearing, yet the memory of Joaquin Murrieta is more important than ever. Two interviews document the historical influence of the Murrieta family, both on US Chicanos and on their descendents in Mexico.
From early in the 20th century, copper miners from the same families have worked in modern industrial mines in Cananea, Nacozari and the mining towns of Arizona and New Mexico. The links to the north, of families and common work, have provided important support during strikes. A series of interviews record two instances, one during the 1960s and another in 1998. As a result of the transformation of Cananea by privatization, globalization, and the failure of the last strike to halt job loss, many Mexican miners have lost their jobs and migrated north. Two interviews record differing perspectives on that strike and its outcome.
Not all Sonorans want to go north, however. The Mayo communities of Navojoa maintain a set of cultural practices which are so strong that many Mayos, while they migrate as farm workers throughout northern Mexico, stay close enough to return for important celebrations like the Pascola. Few migrate to the US, although over a century ago, Joaquin Murrieta himself, who may have been of Mayo ancestry, fought for the rights of Mexicans stranded in the US after the treaty of 1848. A third section documents the Mayo Pascola and the experiences of a dancer and a teacher trying to preserve their culture.
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photographs and stories by David Bacon © 1990-