Life in the Old West

True stories, tall tales, memorabilia of the American West

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History of Old West means not just U.S. but Spain, Mexico


I was just reading something online that reminded me of something we lovers of the Old West often forget: Any history or discussion about “the Old West” means not just the United States, but must include a lot of Spanish and Mexican history.

Indeed, we “Anglos” are so ethnocentric that we sometimes forget the founding of Jamestown by “white” Europeans in 1607 was preceded by a town founded somewhere on Georgia’s Sapelo Island in 1526 by the Spanish explorer Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon. Why, shoot, various Spanish and Portuguese explorers and fishermen beat “us” to America by 100 years.

What can we learn from all this? For starters, a deeper, richer understanding of 16th Century Spanish history and culture, especially of the “New World,” may be helpful when we look at the history, culture, and events of life in the Old West in the American Southwest. In fact, many of the habits, clothing, and other ways we identify “cowboys” and “cowboy culture” descend directly from Spanish/Mexican culture of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

We can enjoy looking at some of this rich history of the Old West as part of our journeys and discoveries in this blog!