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  Latinx Stories of Siouxland

An Oral History Archive

Latinx Stories of Siouxland is a publicly available digital archive of Latinx life-histories in Siouxland. We invite local Latinx individuals to participate in oral history interviews by recording video-narratives about their backgrounds, histories, and experiences in the tri-state area. It is with very deep gratitude that we thank our Latinx community members who donated their time and energy to make this oral history collection possible. We will continue expand this archive over time. Please contact Dr. Stacey Alex if you are interested in donating your story.

Our goal is to document the diversity of Latinx communities in Siouxland. This project instilled within us an appreciation for the triumphs, struggles, and day-to-day life of our interviewees. Individuals of Latin American descent are often reduced in the media, partisan politics, and popular culture to one-dimensional characters that suit non-Latinx interests. These single stories portray Latinxs as either criminals or powerless workers. While several interviewees describe a strong work ethic as a culture value, we maintain that these communities cannot be defined by their “worth” value simply as workers. Crucially, we find that Latinx identities are formed by the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, religion, language, and immigration status. While some cultural perspectives and experiences are shared, no one factor is a prerequisite to belonging to these communities. There is no one Latinx identity but rather, a multiplicity of complex worldviews. Visitors to our site will see that our interviewees represent a wide range of human experiences. They come from a variety of heritages: Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Peruvian. They represent a variety of generations, professions, interests, and life goals. Some prefer Spanish while others prefer English. Some have a long history of community service while others are currently exploring ways to give back. Rather than limit our understanding by insisting on sameness or unity, any attempt to better represent Latinx communities is best served by attending to difference.
 
We hope that our contribution will benefit many, including those with interest in the life-histories of US Latinx communities, the Spanish language, and cultures. We invite educators, librarians, students, parents, historians, community organizations, and academics to use this archive to expand their understanding of Siouxland's immensely diverse Latinx communities. Since there are few oral history collections in the Midwest that focus specifically on the experiences of Latinx communities (see our Resources page), we anticipate that this archive will have great value for the public, and will allow us to continue our work with surrounding communities to provide historical, cultural, and educational resources to the wider Siouxland region. We particularly hope that our first interviews may shed light on the way Latinx Siouxland has experienced the COVID-19. Communities of color have been disproportionately affected because of systemic inequalities. Rodriguez-Diaz et al find that, as of June 8, 2020, Latinos account for 33% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US with known ethnicity/race data even though they make up less than 18% of the total US population. The authors call for a variety of policy responses to address obstacles to heath care and public health care insurance including the expansion of Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). While most US Latinos are citizens, many state and federal policies create barriers for immigrants and families of immigrants and, therefore, funding is needed for culturally and linguistically appropriate programs that are not restricted by eligibility restrictions. They find that, “Too many Latinos are left behind in accessing public health insurance programs, they tend to have jobs that are less likely to offer employer sponsored insurance, and the mainstream health system is often unwelcoming, confusing, and inaccessible to them” (Rodriguez-Diaz et al). We thank our interviewees for sharing their perspectives on how the pandemic has shaped their own lives and Latinx communities in Siouxland. In addition to the physical risk, they have revealed the emotional toll of illness and a fear of being unable to provide for their families. We plan to continue adapting new questions throughout the collection process to help best capture our contemporary sociopolitical landscape.

This project will also have a direct impact on our culture and language curriculum here at Morningside University as students will access the oral history interviews to expand their understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity within local Latinx communities. The participation of Damian Herrera, a Morningside University undergraduate student of Mexican heritage from South Sioux City, lends immense perspective to the project and invites students to reflect on the civic responsibility of our own campus and its crucial connection to Siouxland communities.   

Acknowledgements: We thank Morningside University for supporting this project in the summer of 2020 through its Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). We thank the Curator of Education, Theresa Weaver-Basye, and Museum Director, Steve Hansen, for their investment in increasing the visibility of Latinx history and culture in Siouxland and for archiving these materials at the Sioux City Public Museum
 
Works Cited

Rodriguez-Diaz, Carlos E., Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Leandro Mena, Eric Hall, Brian Honermann, Jeffrey S. Crowley, Stefan Baral, Guillermo J. Prado, Melissa Marzan-Rodriguez, Chris Beyrer, Patrick S. Sullivan, Gregorio A. Millett. “Risk for COVID-19 infection and death among Latinos in the United States: Examining heterogeneity in transmission dynamics.” Annals of Epidemiology, vol. 48, 23 July 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1047279720302672.

Who We Are

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Damian Herrera studied Spanish and Education at Morningside University. As a heritage speaker, Damian loves the Spanish language. It brings him closer to his roots and allows him to connect with other people of his background. Damian currently lives in South Sioux City and the majority of the population is of Hispanic descent.  Participating in this research study allowed him to not only augment his understanding of Latino experiences, but also increase representation of a community that has greatly impacted the Siouxland region. Through this project, Damian has enjoyed enriching and developing his knowledge of the Spanish language, his research skills, and his ability to present research in a formal setting. By proactively conducting interviews in Spanish as well as transcribing them, Damian gained greater confidence with speaking along with a greater appreciation of cultural diversity in Spanish-speaking communities. This program will be beneficial for him in his future endeavors and he looks forward to sharing what he has learned with his own students. Damian believes that education has no limits and is crucial for the development of our society.

Dr. Stacey Alex is an assistant professor of Spanish at Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa. She teaches Spanish Language and Cultures, Spanish for the Professions, and Latinos in the US. While not Latina herself, she had the opportunity to meet many Spanish speakers while growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. Her family has grown to include both Mexican-Americans and Spanish-Americans; her son, niece, and nephew are growing up as Spanish heritage language learners in Iowa. She believes all students must see themselves represented in their local histories. She is interested in oral history as a vehicle for both Latina/o/x and non-Latina/o/x audiences to perceive their Latina/o/x communities as crucial to the greater US social fabric. Moreover, Latina/o/x oral histories can be a powerful pedagogical tool to examine the linguistic and cultural diversity of Latina/o/x communities as well as issues of racialization and social justice. Stacey taught Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL) in a dual language program in West Liberty, Iowa, and ESL in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She completed her BA and MA at The University of Iowa and her PhD in Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies at The Ohio State University. She researches Latinx immigrant narratives, Latinx folklore, and Latinx pop culture.

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Comunidades diversas
Diverse Communities

Lea más sobre la historia de las comunidades latinas en Siouxland y explora otros archivos de historias orales de latinas en el medio oeste.
Read more about the history of Latina/o/x communities in Siouland and explore other Latina/o/x oral history archives in the Midwest.

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Historia
History

Exhibited Document Flags

Recursos
Resources

Paintings In Gallery

"Comenté un poquito sobre mis abuelos, comenté un poquito sobre mis padres. Pero francamente, y al final de cuentas, cuando me veo en el espejo, veo muchas generaciones. Y Entonces en mucho de lo que hago es pensar si mis ancestros estarían orgullosos de mí. Orgullosos de quien soy. ¿Me explico? Pero enseguida, el siguiente y el miedo más grande que tengo es de ser un fracaso ante mis hijos. ¿Me explico? Entonces, así que para mí tiene mucho que ver con de dónde vengo y al final de cuentas, ¿cuál es el legado que estoy creando para mis hijos? ¿Qué tipo de gente van a ser ellos? Y mis nietos, y los hijos de mis nietos y todas las generaciones en el futuro."

Perla Alarcón-Flory

Contact     
Stacey Alex, PhD

Lewis Hall (LH) 302

1501 Morningside Ave
Sioux City, Iowa 51106

712-274-5487

Thanks for submitting!

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