Discovering American Latino Heritage in our National Parks

October 8, 2012, 8:09 am

Taos Pueblo. Two residents of Taos c. 1890.  Despite general resistance to outside infiltration, Spanish cultural influence in architecture, practice and garb are seen throughout the Pueblo. Courtesy of the Library of CongressSpanning five centuries beginning in the age of exploration, Latino peoples have played an important role in American history and the development of America. From Christopher Columbus’ New World expeditions, to the fight for civil rights led by Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta, American Latino peoples have had an important role in the vibrant heritage of the United States.

In honor of National Hispanic Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) the National Park Service has created an online travel itinerary, The American Latino Heritage Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary, produced by the National Park Service’s Heritage Education Services in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.

The itinerary includes stops at nearly 200 historic sites in 33 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. All destinations are connected to a park or program, and many sites are included in the National Register of Historic Places.

In Florida, you can visit Dry Tortugas National Park, a cluster of seven coral reef islands discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513 and used as a navigational marker for Spanish explorers. Many treasure fleets passed through the Dry Tortugas, and many were shipwrecked during the passage.

Among the many sites to visit in New Mexico is Taos Pueblo. A centuries old Pueblo Indian settlement, Taos Pueblo is a magnificent insight into the heritage of the American Southwest. Archeological remains date the earliest human inhabitants of the Taos Valley to be around 900 AD!

Whether you visit a national historic trail or a national historic landmark this month, you are sure to learn more about the connection between the diverse peoples who, together, have created the rich heritage of the United States.

For more information, visit the American Latino Heritage page on the National Park Service website.

Image: Taos Pueblo. Two residents of Taos c. 1890. Despite general resistance to outside infiltration, Spanish cultural influence in architecture, practice and garb are seen throughout the Pueblo. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.