Today marks the 170s anniversary of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican War, and which transferred vast stretches of what is now the American Southwest, from California to west Texas, from Mexico to the United States, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
And historian Carlos Gonzalez at Our Lady of the Lake University, who heads the Segundo de Febrero Committee, says it also created the 'Mexican-American.'
"The Mexicans living in that territory was ceded to the United States, overnight became Mexicans living in the United States, where previously they had been Mexicans living in Mexico," he said.
He says the treaty awarded full U.S. citizenship to the people who suddenly found themselves living in a different country.
This is the only ethnic group whose origins can be traced to a specific date, and gives rise to the saying 'I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me,' in regard to people of Mexican heritage living in the U.S. It also created the concept of 'Atzlan,' which has been used by activists to represent the former lands of Mexico which are now part of the U.S.
"This peace treaty ends the war between Mexico and the United States, and is the political birth of the Mexican American community," Gonzalez said.
He says the 170th anniversary of the February 2 treaty, which was signed, ironically, in Mexico City, will be marked with several events over the coming days, in San Antonio and in Arizona, New Mexico, and California.
"It's an important historical date and it doesn't get the type of recognition it deserves," he said. "We will commemorate it with several programs and lectures."
He says the 170th anniversary will be 'commemorated,' not 'celebrated,' in recognition of challenges still facing Mexican Americans in the US, and the debate which still surrounds the U.S. Mexico border.