“families from the Canary Islands,” “mestizo and Indian populations,” “an atmosphere of racial diversity” (Buitron)

Such was the case in 1719, when a fort, a series of missions, and a small town arose on the banks of the San Antonio River. The city, known as San Antonio De Bexar, was augmented in 1731 by families from the Canary Islands. The original mestizo and Indian population, along with the new arrivals, created an atmosphere of racial diversity within a context of what [10] Timothy M. Matovina described as the “Mexican Catholic tradition.”[33] That tradition was the result of the two hundred years of cultural contact between the Indian and Spanish cultures mentioned earlier.

The new city also become a picture of Mexican social hierarchy in miniature. Surveying the early history of San Antonio, Jesus de la Teja discovered that because of their European ancestry, “immigrants from the Canary Islands held a special social status that they retained for two centuries.”[34] In return for populating the frontier, the King of Spain granted noble title to former sheep and goat herders.[35]

The newcomers, known as Isleños, took control of the town government and demanded privileges regarding water rights and the dispersal of farm and ranch land. However, this class hierarchy was mitigated by the obstacles of desert, mountain, and sheer distance that conspired to create what Matovina believed was an independent Tejano identity.[36] San Antonio’s physical isolation from central Mexico was only slightly less distant than the separation of the thirteen English Colonies from Great Britain, and the impact in creating a separate regional identity was almost the same. Second, as the centuries progressed, a common difficulties, a shared culture and intermarriage “slowly fastened a joint identity on the town’s population” according to de la Teja.[37] By 1800, a distinct character was formed among the people of San Antonio, which was unique to its environment, but was also distinctly Mexican.

Buitron, 9-10.
  1. [33]Matovina, Texas Religion and Ethnicity, 227.
  2. [34]de la Teja, San Antonio De Bexar, 24-25.
  3. [35]Buck, Yanaguana’s Successors.
  4. [36]Matovina, Tejano Religion and Ethnicity, 25.
  5. [37]de la Teja, 152.

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