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BECOMING NEW MEXICAN
The Hispanos of New Mexico,
are an ethnic group primarily residing in the U.S. state of New Mexico, particularly Santa Fe, Taos, Española, and throughout Northern New Mexico, likewise the Albuquerque metro and basin, in mountain ranges like the Sangre de Cristo, Sandia–Manzano, Mogollon, and Jemez, so too along river valleys statewide such as Mimbres, San Juan, and Mesilla, as well as the southern portion of Colorado.
They are typically variously of Iberian, Criollo Spaniard, Mestizo, and Genízaro heritage, and are descended from Spanish-speaking settlers of the historical region of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, which makes up the present day U.S. states of New Mexico (Nuevo México), southern Colorado, and parts of Arizona, Texas, and Utah. New Mexicans speak New Mexican English, Neomexicano Spanish, or both bilingually, and identify with the culture of New Mexico displaying patriotism in regional Americana, pride for various cities and towns such as Albuquerque or Santa Fe, and expressing through New Mexican cuisine and New Mexico music, as well as in Ranchero and U.S. Route 66 cruising lifestyles.
Alongside Californios and Tejanos, they are part of the larger Hispano communities of the United States, which have lived in the American Southwest since the 16th century or earlier (since many individuals are from mestizo communities, and thus, also of indigenous descent). The descendants of these culturally mixed communities make up an ethnic community of more than 340,000 in New Mexico, with others in southern Colorado.
Hispanos identify strongly with their Spanish heritage although many also have varying levels of Apache, Comanche, Pueblo, Navajo, Native Mexican, and Genízaro ancestry. Exact numbers for the population size of New Mexican Hispanos is difficult, as many also identify with Chicano and Mexican-American movements.
For most of its modern history, New Mexico existed on the periphery of the Spanish empire from 1598 until 1821 and later Mexico (1821–1848), but was dominated by Comancheria politically and economically from the 1750s to 1850s. Due to the Comanche, contact with the rest of Spanish America was limited, and New Mexican Spanish developed closer trading links with the Comanche than the rest of New Spain. In the meantime, some Spanish colonists coexisted with and intermarried with Puebloan peoples and Navajos, enemies of the Comanche.
New Mexicans of all ethnicities were commonly enslaved by the Comanche and Apache of Apacheria, while Native New Mexicans were commonly enslaved and adopted Spanish language and culture. These Genízaros served as house servants, sheep herders, and in other capacities in New Mexico including what is known today as Southern Colorado well into the 1800s. By the late 18th century, Genízaros and their descendants, often referred to as Coyotes, comprised nearly one-third of the entire population of New Mexico.
After the Mexican–American War, New Mexico and all its inhabitants came under the governance of the English-speaking United States, and for the next hundred years, English-speakers increased in number. By the 1980s, more and more Hispanos were using English instead of New Mexican Spanish at home.