Latino Americans: 500 Years of History

Latino Americans 

Latino Americans : 500 Years of History 


Siouxland Libraries is pleased to offer a series of programs exploring the rich and varied history and experiences of Latino Americans. Latino Americans have helped shape the history and culture of the United States over the last five centuries. Latino Americans have become, with more than 50 million people, the country's largest minority group. Siouxland Libraries is offering events and programs for all ages and interests to learn more about Latino American history and culture. Please plan to attend. Registration is not required for any of the events.



Film Viewings & Discussion

From the film series, Latino Americans: the 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation, the following episodes will be shown at the Downtown Library. Each episode is followed by a discussion led by Dr. Cory Conover from Augustana University. The episodes are also available for viewing from with your Siouxland Libraries card. 


Foreigners in their own land

 Foreigners in Their Own Land
Tuesday, May 10, 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library

One hundred years after Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, Spanish Conquistadors and Priests, push into North America in search of gold and to spread Catholicism. With the arrival of the British in North America, the two colonial systems produce contrasting societies that come in conflict as Manifest Destiny pushes the U.S into the Mexican territories of the South West. 


Empire of dreamsEmpire of Dreams
Thursday, May 12, 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library

During the 1920s, immigration is encouraged with the expanding U.S. economy. Mexicans and Mexican Americans build a thriving community in Los Angeles and look forward to a bright future. But when the economic boom of that 1920s ends with the catastrophic Depression of the thirties, the pendulum swings. Immigrants encouraged to immigrate in the 1920s are deported en masse in the 1930s. 


The New LatinosThe New Latinos
Saturday, May 14, 2 p.m. at the Downtown Library

Until World War II, Latino immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly Mexican-American. Now three new waves bring large-scale immigration from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. In the film, West Side Story, Rita Moreno plays the role of Anita and wins an Oscar. But for most Puerto Ricans empowerment remains elusive. Julia Alvarez would take the immigrant experience – her own and that of her fellow Dominicans – to unprecedented literary heights in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. In her work, she explores the hybrid identity taking shape in a new generation of Latinos, who are now demanding their place in America.

Peril and promisePeril and Promise
Tuesday, May 17, 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library

In the 1980s, a second wave of refugees flee to United States from Cuba. The same decade sees the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans (Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans) fleeing death squads and mass murders. By the early 1990s, a political debate over illegal immigration has begun. Globalization, empowered by NAFTA, means that as U.S. manufacturers move south, Mexican workers head north in record numbers. A backlash ensues: tightened borders, anti-bilingualism, state laws to declare all illegal immigrants felons. But a sea change is underway: the coalescence of a new phenomenon called Latino American culture as Latinos spread geographically and make their mark in music, sports, politics, business, and education.


More Events

El dia de los ninos

El Día de los Niños
Saturday, April 30, time TBD, at the Downtown Library

El día de los niños is a national celebration of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Families are invited to the Downtown Library to hear stories, listen to music, and participate in hands-on activities that celebrate the Latino American culture.


West Side Story Viewing and Discussion
Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m. at the Downtown Library

Filmed in 1961, West Side Story has become an American classic about rival street gangs and ill-fated love. Puerto Rican Rita Moreno won an Oscar for her role in this movie. Watch the movie and then stay for the film discussion that follows.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Book Discussion 
Monday, May 16, 7 p.m. at the Ronning Branch

Written by Julia Alvarez, How the Garica Girls Lost Their Accents is about four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment and anger as they navigate their old and new worlds. 

Latino Americans Wrap Up Party and Panel Discussion
Saturday, May 21, 2 p.m. at the Downtown Library

Join us for music and food as we celebrate Latino American culture in Sioux Falls! A panel discussion, led by Juan Bonilla, from La Voz and Global Voice, will talk about their experiences as Latino Americans living in Sioux Falls. 


Latino Americans: 500 Years of History has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo   American Library Association logo