Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time that we recognize the positive contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States and celebrate our heritage and culture. This year’s theme is “Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future,” and for HECHO, this theme couldn’t be more fitting. This is the essence of what we do.

Sangre De Cristo Mountains | Photo By Vivaverde, CC By-SA 3.0

Sangre De Cristo Mountains | Photo By Vivaverde, CC By-SA 3.0

Much of our policy work is aimed at honoring our heritage by protecting the lands and places that have special historical or cultural significance to Latinos. For example, we have been active proponents of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes the U.S. President to protect valuable public natural areas as park and conservation land by declaring them national monuments – many of which are places of key importance to Latino communities, like:

  • The Cesar Chavez National Monument, home and gravesite of one of the most important Latino leaders from the 20th Century;
  • The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area that has been home to native tribes and Latinos for 11,000 years;
  • Pecos National Historical Park where the Spanish lived for hundreds of years when they first came to New Mexico; and,
  • The Old Spanish National Historic Trail, an important trade route connecting New Mexico and California that was originally tread by Spanish explorers.
Old Spanish Trailhead Marker | Photo By Dave Soldano, CC By-NC-SA 2.0

Old Spanish Trailhead Marker | Photo By Dave Soldano, CC By-NC-SA 2.0

We also encourage people to share their personal heritage stories for our blog and other publications. Recently, Christine Alonzo, Executive Director, Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Research Organization (CLLARO) wrote about growing up in New Mexico and her heritage of conservation and reverence for the natural world.

Engaging people in our rich history not only protects Hispanic culture, it also reminds people of the important role the community has played in this country’s evolution and often inspires them to get more involved in activities that help strengthen our communities. Like Viviana Reyes, whose daughter inspired her to re-connect with her heritage and who now works for the Latino Community, Girl Scouts of Arizona Cactus-Pine to empower Latinas to reach their highest potential.

Finally, this month as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage and reflect on the landscapes that sustain us with clean air and water we are fighting for protections of our public spaces. Congress has until September 30th to reauthorize America's most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Learn more here and tell Congress to act before this program expires.

This is HECHO - growing the movement of Hispanics honoring our heritage and building our future. Join us!