The ‘Chicano’ identity

Before the United States conquered this land, people here possessed a broad number of named cultural identities based on residence, ancestry, tribal affiliation, social status, and so on. Because the U.S. government did not possess the language necessary to understand these diverse nuances, they tended toward the wholesale categorization of the locals between simplistic terms: “Hispanic” and “Indian,” and in many cases, “savage.” 

In the one hundred-plus years since, indigenous New Mexicans have reasserted nuanced identities. The Chicano movement of the 1960s and 70s helped this process along, reframing the narrative and politics around Native American, Spanish, and Mexican identities by demonstrating how all these—and more—have intertwined throughout history. Despite this, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the U.S. government included the term “Chicano” in its census.