THE UPRISING OF MEXICANS & TEJANOS IN WEST TEXAS. The San Elizario Salt War, also known as the Salinero Revolt or the El Paso Salt War, was an extended and complex revolt in 1877 by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living on both sides of the border that were upset at the Anglo American Politicians and Capitalists who had full control over the ownership and control of immense salt lakes at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains near El Paso. The leading politicians were supported by the Texas Rangers. The struggle reached its climax with the siege and surrender of 20 Texas Rangers to a popular army of 500 men in the town of San Elizario. The arrival of the African-American 9th Cavalry  and a sheriff’s posse of NM mercenaries caused hundreds of Tejanos to flee to Mexico, some in permanent exile. The right of individuals to own the salt lakes, which had previously been held as a community asset, was established by force of arms.The conflict began as a local quarrel and grew in stages to finally occupy the attention of both the Texas and federal governments. Newspaper editors throughout the nation covered the story, often with frenzied tone and in lurid detail. At the conflict’s height, as many as 650 men bore arms. About 20 to 30 men were killed in the 12-year fight for salt, and perhaps double that number were wounded.Traditionally, the uprising of Mexican-Americans during the San Elizario Salt War has been described by historians as a bloody riot by a howling mob. The Texas Rangers who surrendered, especially their commander, have been described as unfit. More recent scholarship has placed the war within the context of the long and often violent social struggle of Mexican-Americans to be treated as equal citizens in the United States and not as a subjugated people. Most recently, the “mob” has been described as an organized political-military insurgency with the goal of re-establishing local control of their fundamental political rights and economic future.

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