La Tierra Nueva en Aztlán

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 9/25/2009

The evolving civil rights movement of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s revolutionized the consciousness of young people across the United States. As in African American communities, a new sense of mobilization spread among Mexican Americans. Many adopted a more political identity—chicano and chicana—and explored their history, which was omitted from school textbooks. The Chicano movement sought to remedy the injustices experienced by many Mexican Americans, from substandard education and housing to working conditions. Many symbols and ideas of the Chicano movement were taken from the pre-Hispanic past, especially Aztec history. Aztlán, the original homeland in the Aztec migration stories, has an important place in Chicano mythology. As a symbolic reclamation of their place in American history, Chicanos locate Aztlán in the Southwest United States, in the area conquered during the Mexican-American War. The image shown here, by Manuel Moya, is an ink drawing done on a handkerchief known as a paño. Paños are graphic art works drawn on handkerchiefs by Chicano prisoners in California, Texas, and the Southwest. Titled, La Tierra Nueva en Aztlán, or The New Land in Aztlán, it combines the images of the Aztec past with a Pancho Villa-like figure from the Mexican Revolution.

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.