Hilbert Morales | EL OBSERVADOR
Photo Credit: Unsplash

La Raza Historical Society of Silicon Valley was organized as an IRS Section 501(c)(3) non-profit by Fernando Zazueta, esq., Ramon J. Martinez, Ph.D., and Joseph Karl Soltero with purpose of collection of family artifacts, records, and personal diaries which establish the Hispanic-Latino historical presence in Silicon Valley today.

Recently, Elena Robles said to me: “Our Hispanic-Latino historical presence in Santa Clara Valley does not exist because no one in our community has researched it, documented it nor written about it from our own perspective. What exists in various history books was written by White historians who left us out. But then, we have left ourselves out of the records used by historians, reporters, and journalists when writing about this community. Hispanic-Latinos have been here for at least 200 years or more. Our kids do not learn our historical heritage because schools no longer teach civics and history.”

Well, the current Hispanic-Latinos working and residing here now have a place to go to see and read about their community.

This past Sunday, October 27, 2019 by invitation I attended a meeting of La Raza Historical Society of Santa Clara Valley, now located in their own building, the CHILCHI HOUSE. This white gabled house is located across the street from the Fire House in San Jose’s History Park.

This house is the home of the La Raza Historical Society of Santa Clara Valley, which now gives the local Hispanic-Latino community a place to go to view historical artifacts from 2:00 to 4:00 PM each Sunday when Ramon J. Martinez and his colleagues are there to be the staff which explains their displays (and guards their archives).

Just recently, all the photographs taken during 1941 to 1981 by Richard Diaz, the “Photographer of the Stats was received by La Raza Historical Society as a gift. There are many photos (all are 8.5 inches x 11 inches in size. Many photos have annotations which identify the event and those persons in the photo.

However, there are many photos who present individuals whose identity needs to be established. So, plan on visiting the Hispanic-Latino House located in San Jose History Park to see these photos. And if you can identify an individual in those photos do tell Ramon and his colleagues. These unidentified individuals undoubtedly are your abuelos (grandparents) or other relations and friends of your family.

While I was there, two youthful Latinas visited and identified their tios (uncles) much to the delight of Ramon and his colleagues. It is important that the local Hispanic-Latino community members all plan to come by for a visit. La Raza Historical Society needs your support and input which provides the information needed to fill the gaps which exist.

From 1941 to 1981 publisher Humberto Garcia (who had a printing business) supported and published El Excentrico. This publication documents the historical events plus identifies those community members who were involved in those days of yore.

One photo really tells us today a lot about the inclusion and exclusion of our community. A photo which contained three individuals, the one in the center was Humberto Garcia I, the other two individuals in this photo were Ma. Bessie and Leonard McKay, a local print shop owner & operator who used that photo in his San Jose History Book.

McKay identified the two Anglo-Saxons in that photo, but that Mexican was never included in that photo’s caption. Consuelo Rodriguez commented, “I guess we Mexicans must be spirits which are invisible’”. We are not invisible at all. It is just that Hispanic-Latinos need to be more assertive about being identified and included when appropriate. If we do not insist on that much, then we become invisible individuals who do not get recognized for the efforts and contributions made in the past and now, in the present.

After all, Hispanics-Latinos amount to about 30% of the population of Santa Clara County. And many in our community can trace their family living here for several generations. Through hearsay, I am informed that Pancho Villa’s wife was raised in San Jose, CA.

Hispanic-Latinos have an extensive history in Santa Clara Valley along with those Native American tribes which resided here because of its mild weather, ample drinking water, and bountiful food (fowl, fish, and edible vegetation). Note that the Chiechi House was placed in the San Jose History Park because it represented a particular architectural style and could be built with local materials by local labor (Mexican and Native American skilled carpenters and stone masons).

Joseph Karl Soltero wrote: The house was built for the John and Jane Campbell family in 1876 and purchased by Michael Chiechi in 1911. It was originally located in Willow Glen, on Northrup Ave and moved to History SJ park. The house was donated to History SJ by Grace Chiechi, the last surviving daughter in 1973 It has been managed by The La Raza Historical society since September 2018.’

To summarize, La Raza Historical Society of Silicon Valley has become the highly visible Hispanic-Latino element. It is appropriate that this organization receive the Hispanic-Latino community support. Plan to make a contribution because it takes money to establish, sustain, and maintain its displays of the documented contributions of the Hispanic-Latino community to the evolutionary development of Silicon Valley.

Our Hispanic-Latino millennial youth need to know and understand that our community has been cultivating the soil with its knowledge of botany and agriculture, which still feeds this community. And a few Hispanic-Latinos, such as Raymundo Gil, developed cybernetic elements which opened up cloud computing. Unlike the WASPs, Hispanic-Latinos do not self-promote their contributions to the evolutionary development of Silicon Valley.

Next time you eat a meal, remember that potatoes came from Bolivia & Peru; maize (corn), tobacco, and yams came from the Americas; Cocaine from Columbia; and many drugs from the Amazon basin. The indigent curanderos (medicine men) and brujas (witches) had knowledge of local herbs and medicines from plants (e.g., cocaine). Learn enough to claim your rightful indigenous heritage.

Fortunately, Humberto Garcia documented our community’s efforts in his El Excentrico weekly publication. A complete archival edition is now located at the Chiechi House, SJ History Park, which is open to the public every Sunday, 1 to 4 PM. Plan to make a visit; then decide to make a supportive donation.

Enjoy Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos.