Sunday, January 20, 2013

The United States of Mexico - Week 3

I want to make a quick correction from last week's blog before we started. As I was looking at the bulletin I saved from the June 6, 2010 celebration, it states it as being a 22nd birthday celebration, not an anniversary celebration as I declared. Not that it makes much of a difference but I want to clarify that minor detail to preserve the integrity in the details of my blog. I also want to thank everyone who has read my blog and give a quick shout out to my followers in Malaysia, North Korea, Croatia and The USA. Hola! I've also getting your feedback! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will be addressing some of it at the end. Ready, set, here we go...

I read a fascinating article in The New York Times published on November 22, 2012 called "Name Change Is Suggested for Other 'U.S.'" by Randal C. Archibald.  I recommend you Google it and read it.  It goes into the history of the formal name of Mexico, Estados Unidos Mexicanos, which is often translated as United Mexican States or The United States of Mexico. 
I don't recall hearing a whole lot about Mexico growing up in Michigan really.  In geography class I remember we went to great lengths studying Canada's provinces and territories to our North.  To prove it, here you have them:  The 10 provinces of Canada are Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.  The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.  The Capital of Canada is Ottawa.  Aren't you impressed?  Don't be, I had to look them up because I couldn't remember them all.  When it came to our neighbor in the South, Mexico, I don't recall learning to much at all.  Just that Mexico City is the Capital of Mexico, the Rio Grande River runs along the border, there is the Gulf of Mexico and there is the Baja Peninsula, which is a fun little fact because Michigan too is a Peninsula.  In fact, Michigan is two Peninsulas, the Upper and the Lower.

In History class we learned more about the Spanish-American War than the Mexican-American War.  And yes, there is a difference.  Even in Spanish class, I don't recall hearing too much about Mexico.  Our teacher had served in the Peace Corp in Columbia.  I remember more focus given to Central and South America.  Somehow Mexico was skipped right over.  Why exactly, I do not know.  I'm sure that we studied Canada a bit more because Michigan is a bordering state.  Perhaps that is why.  In California, I imagine, Mexico is given more attention in the classroom.  My whole point being here, when it came to Mexico, I was pretty naive.  So in 1995 when I moved from Michigan to Southern California I had some things to learn.

Now when I lived in Detroit, my friends and I would frequently take trips under the river, through the tunnel and across the border to Windsor Canada we'd go.  This, of course, was our only other option than going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house.  So when I arrived on the scene in Southern California I was ready to head South.  Tijuana here I come!  I made several trips to Tijuana during the first several years after moving.  It was quite different than the little neighborhood we had in Detroit referred to as The Mexican Village.  And I enjoyed it because it was something new and different to me.  I was oblivious to any of the rumored dangers, I was just one big wedo doing my thing in Mexico:  shopping, eating and shopping some more.  It was fun to barter and even though I didn't speak any Spanish, I had no problems.  Of course, after the events on September 11, and all the issues with border crossing, my trips South ceased.

Even after the trips across the border and moving to Southern California, with its strong Mexican influence, my awareness of Mexico remained rather limited.  I still was living life in a big white bubble that wasn't nearly as cool as the one the witch in OZ travelled around in.  Sure, I would see signs that read "Sinaloa Tacos" or "Vera Cruz Restaurant," but it didn't register in my head as to what exactly that meant.  And since were on the topic of food, let me just say this, that California is spoiled with great Mexican food.  Mexican food in Michigan doesn't come close and Taco Bell doesn't count.  Growing up, the only Mexican food I ate was the occasional school cafeteria taco, and boy didn't that make me feel so well cultured.  We ate those Midwest farmland staples mainly:  beef, chicken or pork, potatoes fixed in their various ways, a vegetable, pasta, bread, jello and don't forget the cottage cheese.  That was it, day in and day out.  On the weekends, we splurged and drove to the city and had ourselves Pizza Hut pizza on either Friday or Saturday night. 

So imagine at this point you're probably asking, "Mike, where are you going with all this and what does this have to do with folklorico dancing?"  I'm glad you asked because it has everything to do with folklorico dancing.  Mexico has 31 states and one Federal District, Mexico City.  The states are also referred to as regions.  Each state or region has a specific style of folklorico dance, complete with unique costuming, footwork, and stylized skirt work for that particular area.  You see, throughout history, as outside nations began to settle in Mexico, they brought with them their culture and customs.  With this infusion of outside influence, the Mexican culture meshed with these foreign cultures and the result is various styles of Mexican dancing.  That's a very basic explanation as to what occurred over a period of time in history.  The result is a wonderfully rich heritage and diverse culture.

The 31 United States of Mexico:  Chihuahua, Sonora, Coahuila, Durango, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Veracruz, Baja California, Nuevo León, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Campeche, Sinaloa, Quintana Roo,Yucatán, Puebla, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tabasco, México, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Colima, Aguascalientes, Morelos, and Tlaxcala.  This is what I would call Foundational Folklorico 101.  I even wrote a Facebook posting/advertisement once on the dance groups Facebook page about it.  I've shared it below and you can refer to the map to familiarize yourself more with Mexico's geography.

Original Facebook Post from June 20, 2012

Did You Know? Mexico has 31 states and one Federal District, Mexico City, where the seat of the Federal Government and approximately on fifth of the population can be found?  Here at Herencia Mexicana IE we are currently learning dances from several of the states including: Chihuahua, Chiapas, Jalisco, Veracruz and Yucatan. Richard will also be teaching dances from many of the other states as well including: Baja, Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and others. Now is a great time to get started. Don't miss out. Join Today!

There you have it!  The United States of Mexico!  Foundational Folklorico 101.  Often times I have been referred to as Mike from Michoacan, because I'm originally from Michigan.  Of course, its all in good fun, but as one older Mexican lady said once, "That white boy is not from Michoacan!" and she's right!

I got lots of feedback this week, much of which I will be addressing in upcoming blog posts.  So make sure you keep checking back for my weekly post.  But one thing I wanted to address now is yet another form of guero!  Surprise!  I thought we had finally put it to rest but the feedback continues to come in.  I never imagined that this blog would become an authority on the term.  So to continue the quest of becoming the exhaustive resource on wedoism.  Here is what I learned this week.  Guero is properly spelled Güero!  The word is also spelled huero in spanish.  Although huero is a common spelling, the word huero has an entirely different meaning in Spanish.  From my deduction, huero is a variation that is of a Spanish slang form.  Oh dear!  Then, to add to my frustration, I discovered another American slang spelling, which you could almost predict this one:  weddo.  I still like mine, wedo, the best.  It's short and sweet and I'm sticking to it. 

Don't forget to send any feedback to me at and you can check out my Facebook page at One Big Wedo.  Make sure you "like" the page so you can get all the wedo updates!  And if that wasn't enough, I'm working on getting Twitter!  Stay tuned because soon you will be able to get my Tweets with all the latest wedo news.  Have a great week!

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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