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Resource Guide

Resource Organizations

Chicano Awareness Center, Inc.
4821 South Twenty-fourth Street
Omaha, NE 68107 (402) 733-2720

Community and social service center that is active in the South Omaha Latino community. Sponsors classes and social events.

El Museo Latino
47011/2 South Twenty-fifth Street
Omaha, NE 68107 (402) 731-1137

Museum dedicated to Latino arts, (local, regional, national, and international). Provides school tours on appointment. Sponsors a performing dance group. Features exhibits, family activities, art and cultural classes, and special events. Is a local repository for copies of the Omaha-related materials collected through the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project.

Hispanic Advisory Committee
Tony Mandijano, Chairperson
1601 East Twenty-seventh Street
Scottsbluff, NE 69361

Committee that works with the Scottsbluff and Gering schools and other community organizations.

Hispanic Community Center
2300 O Street
Lincoln, NE 68510 (402) 474-3950

Community and social service center that serves Latinos in Lincoln and the surrounding area. Provides English and Spanish-language classes, sponsors Los Zapatos Alegres, a performing dance group, and holds community celebrations throughout the year.

Mexican American Historical Society
P.O. Box 1662
Scottsbluff, NE 69361 (308) 635-1044

A museum and historical society dedicated to preserving the history and cultural contributions of Mexican Americans in Nebraska. Sponsors cultural celebrations and events, provides talks on Mexican American cultural traditions, and has the Un Tesoro de Nebraska exhibit (created through the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project) in its permanent collection. The museum also contains copies of the all the materials that were collected through the project. For information on seeing or displaying the exhibit or using the materials, contact the director, Olga Olivares, by calling or visiting the museum.

Mexican American Student Association (MASA)
333 North Fourteenth Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

University of Nebraska­Lincoln student organization. The group advocates for Latino students on campus and sponsors social and cultural events open to the public.

Nebraska Arts Council
Joslyn Castle Carriage House
3838 Davenport Street
Omaha, NE 68131-2329 (402) 595-2122

A state agency that can suggest visual and performing artists, writers, and other creative resource persons and provide funding and informational resources for arts (including folk and traditional arts) events. Call for information and grant guidelines.

Nebraska Humanities Council
Suite 225 Lincoln Center Building
215 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, NE 68508 (402) 474-2131

A nonprofit agency that provides funding for humanities-focused projects (including folklife fieldwork and oral history interviews), speakers on humanities subjects, and media resources. Produces grant guidelines and a resource catalog that are free upon request.

Nebraska Mexican American Commission
P.O. Box 94789
Lincoln, NE 68509-4789 (402) 471-2791

A state agency created in 1971 to advocate for and serve the state's Latino population. Co-sponsor of the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project. NMAC sponsors a variety of forums, publications, and events on issues relating to Latinos.

Nebraska State Historical Society
1500 R Street, P.O. Box 82554
Lincoln, NE 68501-2554 (402) 471-4746

A state agency whose mission is to is to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past for the people, the Society maintains the Nebraska History Museum and the Nebraska State Historical Society Library/Archives for that purpose. Cosponsorship of the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project enabled the Society to add the interview tapes and photographs taken through the project to the collections, where copies are available for public and educational use. The Society also holds other photographs and interviews relevant to the history of Mexican Americans in Nebraska. For information on Society resources call 471-4746 in Lincoln, or 1-800-833-6747.

Nuestro Mundo (Newspaper)
1518 'Z' Street
Omaha, NE 68107 (402) 731-6210 Publisher: Ben Salazar FAX (402) 731-6210

Longstanding Spanish-language newspaper that is also a clearinghouse for information concerning Latinos in the community. Can be contacted for information on other community groups and contact persons.

American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-4610 (202) 707-6590

The center provides numerous resources to support folklife programs, including booklets on doing field interviewing and interview projects, advice on recording equipment and on training volunteer interviewers, and limited loans of recording equipment. The center also contains the Archive of Folk Culture, a heavily used, world-renowned collection of 1.5 million multi-format ethnographic items documenting the grassroots traditions of the American people and encompassing material from every state in the Union.

La Voz Hispana (Newspaper)
1016 Court Street
Sioux City, IA 51104 (712) 258-4462
Director/Editor: Maria Luisa Topete (712) 255-1096

Spanish-language newspaper that is also a clearinghouse for information concerning Latinos in the community. Can be contacted for information on other community groups and contact persons.

Latino Cultural Resource Network
Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies

Smithsonian Institution
955 L'Enfant Plaza S.W.
Suite 2600, MRC 914
Washington, D.C. 20560 (202) 287-3541

A network of Latino museum scholars who can give up-to-date, comprehensive information on publications and other resources on Latino culture. Contact person: Olivia Cadaval

Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Community Folklife Program
The Fund for Folk Culture
P. O. Box 1566
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1566 (505) 984-2534

This program provides grants and technical assistance to local and regional organizations throughout the United States and its territories to support folklife projects. The goal of the program is to enable a rich, diverse range of American communities to preserve, pass on, and celebrate their folklife traditions. Folklife refers to the traditional ways in which groups of people maintain their shared sense of beauty, identity, and values. Grant guidelines are available on request.

Publications and Media Productions

Geil Elementary Third Grade. Sweet Memories: Our Heritage Through Sugar Beets. Scottsbluff: Geil Elementary School, 1995.

A report containing summaries of oral history interviews with former workers in the sugar beet industry and descendants of former workers. The interviews were done by members of the Geil third grade class under the direction of their instructor, Lois Herbel. The interviewees include several Mexican Americans, who shared photos of their families at the time they worked in the beetfields, traditional family recipes, and other interesting artifacts and stories. Major funding for the project was provided by the Nebraska Humanities Council.

Grajeda, Ralph. "Chicanos: The Mestizo Heritage." In Broken Hoops and Plains People, edited by Paul Olson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Printing and Duplicating Service, 1976.

In this short chapter, Dr. Grajeda has distilled a great deal of information both from historical sources and from the many interviews that he has done with Mexican Americans in western Nebraska over the years. It remains a primary resource on the history and culture of Mexican Americans in Nebraska.

Moomaw, L. A. Pioneering in the Shadow of Chimney Rock. Gering Nebr.: Courier Press, 1966.

Locally written and published history. Although written chiefly from an Anglo perspective, it also includes some material on early Mexican immigrants to western Nebraska.

Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey Reconnaissance Survey Final Report of Scottsbluff County, Nebraska. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office, 1995.

Contains photographs and descriptions of adobe houses built by Mexican Americans, background information on immigrants from several ethnic groups who worked in the sugar beet fields and factories in the area, and good general information on the sugar beet industry itself, especially the buildings. Single copies can be requested from the Society.

Wahl, Jan. "Mexican and Mexican American Fiestas and Celebrations in Scottsbluff, Nebraska." Lincoln: Draft of an ethnographic study prepared for the Nebraska Humanities Council, 1988.

Dr. Wahl's account of her firsthand experiences while interviewing Mexican Americans in Scottsbluff gives a very personal, rich view of the culture. As she explains, "Learning about a people through their celebration of life helps us gain a beginning understanding of their beliefs and values." Contains a detailed explanation of the quinceañera, a celebration given for a daughter on her fifteenth birthday to present her to the community through her religion. Also covered are other family, religious, and patriotic celebrations as they were observed in the Scottsbluff Mexican American community. Copies of the study can be obtained by writing the author at 307 Taylor Park Drive, Lincoln, Nebraska 68510 or by calling (402) 489-5950.

Banda, Daniel. Mountains, Mist, and Mexico. Shorewood Wisc.: Bandana Productions and Wisconsin Public Television, 1996.

A one-hour television documentary that was selected for the Latino Film Festival in Chicago in April 1996 and has since aired over PBS, Mountains, Mist, and Mexico tells the personal stories of Mexicans who have come to the Midwest since the early 1900s. Filmed in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Central Mexico, the documentary includes rare footage of the Mexican Revolution and of contemporary culture in both countries. Copies and a study guide are available from the producer at (414) 964-3742.

García, Juan R. Mexicans in the Midwest, 1900-1932. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996.

A new, definitive study of Mexican immigration and assimilation into the Midwest. Although it doesn't talk much about Nebraska, much of the information and conclusions about other Midwestern states are applicable to Nebraska as well.

Santillan, Richard. Encuentros y Cuentos; Oral History of Mexicans in the Midwestern United States, 1900-1950. Forthcoming. Contact the author at (818) 284-4455.

A forthcoming publication that will contain the results of 800 interviews in ninety different communities in the Midwest.

Smith, Michael M. "Beyond the Borderlands: Mexican Labor in the Central Plains, 1900-1930," Great Plains Quarterly, 1, (1981): 4

Includes detailed account of work in the sugar beet fields as well as of Mexican labor in other industries.

Paredes, Américo. A Texas-Mexican Cancionero: Folksongs of the Lower Border. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1976.

A very readable book consisting of sixty-six traditional folk songs of the Texas-Mexican border area. Includes English translations, music, and thorough notes on the history and context of the songs by the most noted authority on the subject. Although probably only some of these songs have made it to Nebraska (and they could be very different versions), the book is useful to read for general background before doing fieldwork to collect songs in your own local area.

Peña, Manuel H. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-class Music. Austin: University of Texas at Austin Press, 1985.

A detailed history of conjunto music as it developed in northern Mexico and the border areas of Texas, with biographies of the musicians who played the style from its inception in the 1930s to the early 1980s. Although this book focuses on Texas, the music was quickly adopted as a symbol of Mexican identity and spread to other states with Mexican American communities (including Nebraska). It was communicated by migrant workers, who were also amateur musicians, by recordings and by the performances of traveling bands. Especially in Omaha and in western Nebraska, the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project found a strong tradition of music-making within family and community groups. Conjunto music is one of the stylistic influences that was reported in several project interviews.

Swain, Patricia E. "Latino Folklore in the United States." Chap. 16 in The Emergence of Folklore in Everyday Life: A Fieldguide and Sourcebook, edited by George H. Schoemaker. Bloomington: Trickster Press, Indiana University, 1990.

This chapter contains an excellent overview of the genres of Latino folklore with practical information on how to approach and design a folklore fieldwork project and a good bibliography. The book has been published especially to provide folklore students, school teachers, and others who might wish to do fieldwork projects with down-to-earth, practical information on project planning and implementation, discussions of many different genres of folklore, and a very readable version of basic folklore theory.

Bartis, Peter. Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques. Washington D. C.: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1990.

An excellent first handbook on doing interview projects. Free single copies can be requested from the center (see listing) and copies can also be purchased in quantity. The Spanish-language version, Tradición Popular e Investigatión De Campo, has been out of print lately, but may be available in the future.

Bartis, Peter and Paddy Bowman. A Teacher's Guide to Folklife Resources For K-12 Classrooms. Washington D. C.: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1994.

An excellent annotated listing of publications and media on folklife and the study of folklife in the classroom. Free single copies can be requested from the center (see listing).

If a Mexican American or Latino community exists in your area, the following local businesses, organizations, and individuals might also be helpful in making contacts for interviews:


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