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Resettling the West: Mexicans in Wyoming

Wyoming PBS documentary explores lives of Mexican immigrants

Resettling the West: Mexicans in WyomingRESETTLING THE WEST: MEXICANS IN WYOMING examines the lives of newly arrived immigrants in eight Wyoming communities. Wyoming, like nearly every state in the nation, has seen unprecedented growth in its Hispanic population during the past decade. Our Hispanic population has grown 23 percent since the last census in 1990 and now accounts for 6.4 percent of our population.

Drawing on taped interviews (in English and Spanish) of dozens of Mexican immigrants in Jackson, Rock Springs, Green River, Evanston, Little America, Cheyenne, Torrington and Powell, the documentary examines the lives of newly arrived immigrants – their aspirations, their challenges, their efforts to hold on to their own language and culture while adapting to a new language and culture. One Wyoming community – Jackson – has seen its Mexican population increase eight or ten fold in the past decade as Mexicans have flocked to Teton County to fill jobs in the resort industry that Americans have been less and less willing to take. The documentary takes a look at how community leaders, the Catholic Church and employers in Jackson have responded to the relatively sudden arrival of a minority population.

Jose Maria Anaya, 73, has lived in South Torrington and worked in the beet fields for nearly 40 years. Torrington is one of several communities featured in the documentary that explores the day to day lives of Mexicans in Wyoming.
Isaias Hernandez, 18, graduates in May from Teton High School in Driggs, Idaho. Born in Hueyotlipan, Tlaxcala, Mexico, he migrated to Idaho with his family at age 8. He and his sister and mother are among the throng of Hispanic workers that commute across Teton Pass to work at service .jobs in Jackson.

Sunday afternoon Mexican soccer league matches are an important social institution in Jackson from May through September. A dozen teams from Jackson, plus four more from Idaho, make up the league.
Daniel Ordoñez, 3, lives in a trailer in Driggs with his sister and parents. Other family members live nearby. Shared car-pooling and child care enable the families to balance home and work as they commute daily over Teton Pass to work in motels and restaurants.

Sarita Candelaria, 4, is one of several hundred Spanish-speaking Head Start students in Wyoming. The program helps these children bolster their English skills prior to entering kindergarten.
Gumercindo Rojas strums his guitar at the KMTN radio station in Jackson, while waiting to begin the three-hour Spanish-language radio show he and others provide every Sunday night. Mexican and other Latin American music selections, plus information of special interest to the Hispanic community fill the program.