You should always be proud of who you are, where you came from.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Martha Castaňon
  • Age at interview - 50
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 02.15.2010
  • The Castaňon children on the Sillers farm, Moorhead, Minnesota, October 1963.

    We Are Here

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    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    About 70% of Latinos are Catholic, and most of the remainder are Protestant or members of another Christian religion. Catholicism plays an important role in the daily lives of many Latinos. One important Mexican religious festival is the Las Posadas, a nine-day event which commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day with reenactments and processions at church or peoples’ homes.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Martha Castaňon 5
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    Narrator: Martha Castaňon (MC)

    Interviewer: Abner Arauza (AA)

    AA: Was retaining or holding onto these cultural traditions a deliberate effort or did it just happen naturally?

    MC: When I was a kid, it would just happen naturally, but growing up and as I’ve become older, it’s more deliberate, because I want to be able to pass on those traditions to my granddaughter and to my sons. As a child growing up, well, Mom and Dad didn’t know any English, so they always spoke Spanish to us and we always spoke Spanish back to them, you know. Whenever we would go down to Zacatecas to see my dad’s folks, that’s where we went to Posadas and we went to fiestas. Some of the Catholic church traditions, we attended those when we could.

    So I had a lot of exposure to that. And I’ve tried to keep that on. And, in fact, in Thanksgiving, I made tamales with my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter. And I told Brianna it’s good for her to learn these traditions, because there are kids growing up that are not learning any of this. This is a memory that she’s going to have when she’s growing up that she remembers making tamales with her mom and her grandma. Someday, she’ll make them on her own. It’s really sad to see kids that are not being exposed to those traditions.

    I know that when we were growing up, there were some other Hispanic families here in this area where my mom said, you know, “Son muy orgullozos” [They are very proud]. They were families where the kids didn’t speak any Spanish, and they were taught not to speak Spanish. And my mom didn’t like that. She said, “You should always be proud of who you are, where you came from, and not lose the language.” So, all of us, even though we grew up here, we know how to read Spanish. We don’t read it perfectly, but we can read it. We can speak it. It hasn’t been lost on us. My youngest sister, who has a baby who just turned a year old, she’ll speak Spanish to her. She’s been able to retain some of those traditions even though she was the youngest one.

    But I think now, it’s more deliberate, because I don’t want to forget those traditions. I want to be able to sit down and talk to my granddaughter about those, about the Posadas. Cause she’s never been exposed to a Posada. You know, and I want to tell her what those are like.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Adjective: Intentional; on purpose.


    Noun: A traditional Mexican Christmas procession.


    Noun: Mexican dish of cornmeal dough shell filled with various ingredients (e.g. chopped beef, pork, sweet filling) then steamed in corn husks.


    Noun:  A custom that is practiced within a group.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2191