Identity Over Time

Use this timeline to explore how identity terms have changed over the course of time. Use the bar at the bottom to scroll the timeline up to the present day. Click on the question marks in either the historical event timeline timeline marker or the individual identity bars for more information.

Bars representing identity terms become brighter or fade to represent increasing or decreasing use of that name. The number of person outlines on each bar represents that term’s greatest popularity relative to other terms.

After exploring this module CLICK HERE to view our interpretations of the findings.



  • Bloom, Lansig. “New Mexico Under Mexican Administration, 1821 – 1846.” Old Santa Fe 1 (1913): 27-30.
  • Gomez, Laura. Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race. New York: New York University Press, 2008.
  • Gonzales, Phillip B. “The Political Construction of Latino Nomenclatures in Twentieth- Century New Mexico.” Journal of the Southwest 35.2 (1993): 158-85.
  • ---. “White the Nuevomexicanos: The Career of a Southwestern Intellectual Discourse, 1907-2004.” The Social Science Journal 43 (2006): 273-86.
  • Gonzales-Berry, Erlinda and David R. Maciel. The Contested Homeland: A Chicano History of New Mexico. Albuquerque, New Mexico: UNM Press, 2000.
  • Gutierrez, David. Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Hanson, Jerry. “Ethnogenesis, Imperial Acculturation on the Frontiers, and the Production of Ethnic Identity: The Genízaro of New Mexico and the Red River Métis.” Social Evolution and History 6.1 (2007): 3-37.
  • Kraemer, Paul. “The Dynamic Ethnicity of the People of Spanish Colonial New Mexico in the Eighteenth Century.” Transforming Images: New Mexico Santos In-Between Worlds Ed. Claire J. Farago and Donna Pierce. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006. 80-100.
  • McDowell Craver, Rebecca. The Impact of Intimacy: Mexican-Anglo Intermarriage in New Mexico, 1821-1846. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1982.
  • Meyers, Todd Mitchell. “A ‘Fantasy Heritage’?: A Review of the Changing Literature on Hispano Identity in New Mexico.” Journal of the Southwest 51.3 (2009): 403-21.
  • Mitchell, Pablo. “‘You Just Don’t Know Mrs. Baca’: Intermarriage, Mixed Heritage, and Identity in New Mexico.” New Mexico Historical Review 79.4 (2004): 437-58.
  • Mora, Anthony P. Mesillaros and Gringo Mexicans: The Changing Meanings of Race, Nation, and Space in Southern New Mexico, 1848-1912. South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002.
  • Nieto-Phillips, John M. Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s-1930s. Albuquerque: UNM Press, 2008.
  • Noel, Linda C. Debating American Identity: Southwestern Statehood and Mexican Immigration. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014.
  • ---. “‘I Am an American’: Anglos, Mexicans, Nativos, and the National Debate over Arizona and New Mexico Statehood.” Pacific Historical Review 80.3 (2011): 430-67.
  • Nostrand, RL. The Hispano Homeland. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.
  • Nuñez-Janes, Mariela. “Bilingual Education and Identity Debates in New Mexico: Constructing and Contesting Nationalism and Ethnicity.” Journal of the Southwest 44.1 (2002): 61-78.
  • Rodriguez, Sylvia. The Hispano Homeland Debate. Stanford: Stanford Center for Chicano Research, 1986.
  • Tyler, Daniel. “Anglo-American Penetration of the Southwest: The View from New Mexico.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 75 (1972): 325-38.

The Coronado expedition of over 1300 people traveled though New Mexico. Expedition members interacted in various ways with the Native Americans they encountered. There was at least one battle, fought with Zuni Pueblo.

Two-thirds of the settlers were born in Spain. This was unusual for a settling group in New Spain; most settler groups were primarily people born in Mexico of mixed Spanish and Native Mexican heritage. Only one quarter of the original settlers actually stayed in the state.

Colonial Governor Trevino institutes harsh policies against Puebloan peoples, creating rising discontent and likely leading to or at least hastening the Pueblo Revolt.

Don Diego de Vargas leads the first of three groups spearheading Spanish recolonization. In total, the three groups brought about 800 settlers to New Mexico. The settlers included some Peninsulares, but most were born in Mexico.

This is the period when the most land grants from Spain were made. The Pueblo Revolt led to the destruction of any information about grants made earlier. Land granting continued though the Spanish and Mexican periods. Land grants made in this period represented Spanish recognition of property rights. Pueblo land grants were made first, followed by grants to establish or recognize Spanish towns. Later, some grants were made to Genízaro towns.

After centuries of fighting, peace is slowly negotiated between the Spanish and Mexican governments and the Comanches. This allows for more trade between groups and more Spanish and Mexican settlements.

The trail connected Santa Fe with Missouri. Over time, trade increased the economic, cultural, and population influences of Anglo-Americans in New Mexico, and reduced the importance of ties with Mexico.

At indepenence from Spain, the population of New Mexico included approximately 30,000 Hispanics, 10,000 Puebloan Indians, and an unknown number of non-Puebloan Indians.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American war. If they choose, Mexicans in the new American territory are allowed to become US citizens with their property rights to be respected.

At this time, men outnumber women four to one in Abuquerque. The land for the University is far east of the town. What today is Old Town Albuquerque was the center of the Spanish Albuquerque land grant. "New Albuquerque" at the time was centered on the railyards, and was primarily occupied with Americans who were not of Spanish-speaking descent.

Why the delay between territoriality and statehood? People cite many reasons, incuding small population, lack of economic or strategic importance, disturbance to the balance of pro-and anti-slavery states, and that the state was full of "foreigners."

After Villa leads an invasion of Columbus, New Mexico, US troops spend nine months searching for him. Eventually he is captured by Mexican troops. Villa's invasion heightens tensions between recent arrivals from the rest of the US and former Mexican citizens.

Los Alamos and Sandia Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base, and White Sands Missile Range bring the defense industry along with scientists and their families, to the state.

As part of the general turmoil of the decade, Reies López Tijerina leads a movement in response to the taking of lands held in community grants. The movement culminates in a raid on the courthouse in the small land-grand town of Tierra Amarilla.

Susana Martinez becomes the Nation's first Hispanic female governor.

The Spanish used a system of up to 53 terms to describe the people in New Spain. Groups common in New Mexico include Españoles, Indios, Africanos, Coyotes/Mestizos, Mulatos, and Lobos.

Begins in 1598, continues until 1822, then rapidly fade and disappear by 1850

This term described people who were born on the Iberian Peninsula.

Starts 1598, continues to 1700, then fades and diappears by 1750

These are Native Americans who became separated from their Tribes. Mostly Apache and Navajo, many admixed with Hispanics. Tome, Abiquiu, Ojo Caliente, and Belen all begin as Genízaro settlements.

Begins in mid 1600s, is most common from 1700-1800, and disappears by the mid 1800s

Many people who describe themselves as Mexicano when speaking Spanish will describe themselves as Spanish when speaking English.

Starts weakly in 1850, increases in use 1880-1910, increases more 1910-1945, fades again 1945-1980, then increases again until present day

This term connotes patria chica, or affiliation with the local land of New Mexico. It is often used in conjunction with other terms, such as Spanish or Mexican.

Begins around 1890 and is in continued use to the present day, but is never very common

Begins in 1968, continues until 1980, then fades but does not disappear

Begins in 1970, becomes more common in 1980 and remains the most common term used today

In New Mexico, Latino/a often refers to a person from Latin America south of Mexico.

Begins around 1990 and is in continued use to the present day, but is never very common

Originally one of the Casta terms, though it's use continued longer than the others. It descibed people who were affiliated with mostly Spanish ancestry. It is replaced by "Spanish," "Spanish American, and "Hispano" at the end of the Mexican era.

Begins in 1598, remains common until 1922, then disappears by 1880

Begins around 1820 and remains common until 1850, then becomes less common until 1950, then increases until the present day

The timeline demonstrates that categories that we may think are permanent and natural are in fact fluid in space and time.