The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
Are Latino History Corridos an effective tool to improve Latino students’ pride?
After successfully completing the Corrido Music Project (2010-2014,) the committee began looking for ways to disperse this cultural and historical information throughout the state especially to Latino youth.
Because the history of the Latinos in Idaho has been omitted from standard texts, this project made an impact not only with the Latino community but with the community at large
Most Idahoans are not aware that following the Native American or “Indian” inhabitants of what is now the western United States, the earliest European presence is Hispanic. In Idaho, Latinos participated in each phase of its economic development and during the 19th century Mexican mule packers played critical roles.
This project is not only important for Latino students, but also for teachers who are interested in music, history, language and culture in general; it can serve as an educational tool in the classroom.
After the cultural and historical presentations, the audiences surrounded the performers and shared stories with the group. People got emotional and were grateful to hear Latino stories being told and celebrated.
Working with a group of high school students, the musicians asked the group to write a story about a person in their family or in the community that they admire. A girl wrote a story about her mother, a single woman who works several jobs to make ends meet and encourages her two daughters to finish high school and go to college. A ballad/corrido was written, put to music, and recorded on a CD for Mrs. Clara Camacho.
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
#5 – Develop and refine artistic techniques and work presentation – The group of young folk dancers worked with the instructor focusing on rhythm, technique, steps and choreography.
#8 – Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work – The group learned new dancing techniques and presentation. They also learned the relationship between dance and music and how emotion plays a part on transmitting the meaning to the audience.
During the concert, the dancers formed part of the audience until their time to dance was up. It was certainly a great occasion being that Ms. Eva Castellanos, a local folk artist, healer, Latino cultural leader and National Treasure was in the audience and was honored with her personal corrido celebrating her life.
The students told us later that it was beautiful and emotional because it was the first time that they had seen something celebrating the history and accomplishment of the Latinos.
#6 – Performing: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work – At the corrido/ballad writing workshop, the musicians told stories of Latino community leaders and afterwards they asked the students to write a story about a person in their families or in the community they admired. With the help of the musicians, these stories were done in poetry form and a melody was selected.
#8 – Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work – The students shared their stories and found the artistic process very meaningful. Basically, they learned, that behind a corrido, there is a meaningful story.
Since our program is non-commercial and more educational, we network mainly with educational and cultural institutions. Musician Bonifacio Dominguez is from Lewiston and was able to make contact with a couple of professors at the Lewis & Clark State College. The college circulated a poster advertising our presentation and we had close to 75 people in the audience. Later in Caldwell we have contact with Fred Betancourt that leads the group Future Latino Leaders of America and he recruited students at the high school for the corrido-writing workshop. In Weiser we found out that there is a Hispanic community and there is Latino history there and we plan to return to do workshops. And later at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, the program coordinator recruited students for our folk-dance workshop.
We were not surprised to be welcomed with open arms first by the college students and later by high school and middle school students.
The Latino population in Idaho has hungered for decades to be recognized as a contributing force on the cultural and economic development of our state. It is important to have public presentations about the history of the Latinos in Idaho to promote the cultural pride and academic performance among Hispanic youth. Projects like this make a tremendous impact in the Latino community.
This project was not only a learning experience for the youth involved, but also for their parents and the rest of the audience.
Having a presentation celebrating the history of the Latinos in Idaho is relevant to the whole community, especially to the Latino youth. We all know how important it is for people, especially the young, to see faces like themselves in the annals of history. This is related to pride and positive feelings that spill over other areas of their lives.
At the end of the evening, we noticed that the students were very happy, and complementary to the musicians and to the choreographer. They made positive comments that showed appreciation for all those involved.
Culture – “I enjoyed the musicians’ presentations and their songs about our history. I didn’t know that history could be so much fun”
“It was amazing! I was not aware of the role of the corridos/ballads in our culture and society.”
Leadership – “I learned the choreography of the dance and how we need to depend on each other for the presentation.”
“I learned that if one takes ownership of a project, it is more enjoyable.”
Personal Development – “I feel I accomplished a lot today, I leaned about ballads/ corridos, about dancing, and about Latino history.”