My father fell in love with this land.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Martha Castaňon
  • Age at interview - 50
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 02.15.2010
  • Armandina and Pedro Castaňon at the Sillers farm, Moorhead, Minnesota, 1967.

    Family, Latino, Work

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    Push & Pull Factors: Why did this person come to the U.S.?

    Background Information

    Many Mexicans and Mexican Americans originally came to Minnesota as braceros. These migrant farm workers travelled through Texas and into other states to work planting, harvesting, and processing crops. Whole families would travel and work together through the entire season. Agricultural companies in Minnesota, especially sugar beet growers in northwestern Minnesota, began to recruit Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from Texas to work in their fields and factories in the late 1910s and 1920s. These companies found Mexican labor to be cheap, abundant and reliable.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Martha Castaňon 1
    1:23 Minutes | 1.33Mb


    Narrator: Martha Castaňon (MC)

    Interviewer: Abner Arauza (AA)

    MC: My father was born in Arizona and grew up in Mexico. The story that I’ve heard is that my grandparents were sheepherders, and back then the borders were very open. So he grew up in Mexico and as a young man decided to come to el norte and came up here…ended up in Crystal City, Texas. And in Crystal City, Texas, he met Raul Rodriguez and David [unclear] and became friends with them and came up to Minnesota to work.

    My father fell in love with this land. He had never seen the dirt so black as it was. Where he was from, it was very deserty, red dirt, couldn’t grow much on it. He loved the green...

    AA: Where he was from in Mexico, or..?

    MC: Mmm hmm, in Mexico. To him, he was amazed at all of the technology with the farming, the tractors, because where he grew up in Mexico, him and his father and his brother would plant by horse and pulling a plow, or by hand, just throwing the seeds into the ground. It wasn’t a very good living. The crops were really poor.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2174