Latin heritage sites, including park, river and bodega, need to be preserved, group says


Latino curators have listed a Dominican-owned bodega in Providence, Rhode Island, a park east of Los Angeles that served as a staging area for historic Chicano student walkouts, and five other sites as Latin heritage sites in urgent need of conservation.

Latino Heritage Scholars, part of a nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation initiative, says the seven sites she has chosen embody Latinos’ contributions to the nation’s identity and narrative.

Many selected sites are at risk due to deterioration or gentrification, the group said in a report released on Wednesday.

“Even though for generations Latinos have continued to prove that they are essential to the United States, sites that commemorate Latin heritage are disproportionately excluded when it comes to officially designated heritage and conservation sites. Manuel Galaviz, co-author of the report and anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement.

Galaviz, who worked to obtain National Historic Landmark status for Chicano Park in California, said the sites can be protected by the federal government through the Antiquities Act.

The group hopes their list will help show how essential the sites are in “telling a more complete story of the contributions of various communities to this nation,” said anthropologist Norma Hartell, co-author of the report.

She worked on listing Chope’s Town Cafe and Bar in La Mesa, New Mexico on the National Register of Historic Places.

The sites cited as needing to be preserved are:

  • Castner Range, El Paso, Texas – Home of the Comanche and Apache, the 7,081 acre landscape of the east side of the Franklin Mountains became a proving ground for artillery shells and was used for training in weapons by the army in several wars. Latino preservationists say it continues to be considered sacred by indigenous and indigenous communities, and includes historical and cultural artifacts and geological and environmental resources.
  • Chepa’s Park, Santa Ana, California – Located in Logan Barrio, in Santa Ana – the oldest Mexican-American neighborhood in California – the park is named after Josephina “Chepa” Andrade, who led opposition to building a highways through the neighborhood which is now facing gentrification.
  • Duranguito, El Paso, Texas – The district on the south side of downtown El Paso is the oldest in the city and was instrumental in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. It is at the center of a struggle for its future while the developers try to shave it off for an arena.
  • Fefa Market, Providence, Rhode Island – The establishment is the first Dominican-owned bodega on Broad Street in Providence; it was opened in the mid-1960s by Josefina Rosario, known as Doña Fefa. She helped the growing number of families from the Dominican Republic who moved to Rhode Island and made it one of the largest Dominican communities in the United States.
  • Friendship Park, California-Mexico border – The binational park is located partly in southern California and partly in Tijuana, Mexico. Former First Lady Patricia Nixon opened the park saying, “May there never be a barrier between these two great nations so that people can reach out in friendship.
  • Gila River, New Mexico and Arizona – The Gila River system stretches 600 miles from New Mexico to Arizona and includes the Gila Wilderness region of New Mexico. The river system has been a resource for the Mogollon civilization for over 1,000 years, as well as for the Chiricahua Apache band and later Spanish settlers. It provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Hazard Park in Los Angeles.LA Department of Recreation and Parks
  • Hazard Park, East Los Angeles – The park was a gathering place for Chicano high school students who staged the East Los Angeles Blowouts, the massive 1968 student school walkouts to protest inequalities and educational conditions. It also served as a gathering place for families and a baseball field for Mexican-American teams who couldn’t play in other areas. It is one of the few green public spaces in eastern Los Angeles.

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