The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

"Mother Lane" and the "New Mooners":
An Expression of Curanderismo
LESLIE GENE HUNTER AND CECILIA AROS HUNTER*
ANTHROPOLOGISTS, FOLKLORISTS, NOVELISTS, PHYSICIANS, PSYCHOLO-
gists, and sociologists have dealt with the topic of curanderas and the
practice of Mexican American folk medicine in the Southwest Border-
lands. There are compilations of herbal remedies, examinations of the
function and impact of curanderismo, research on medical problems and
practices in the Hispanic community, explanations by psychiatrists, and
analyses of the religious aspects of folk medicine. Novelists have written
about the subject. A few famous practitioners-El Nifio Fidencio, "San-
ta" Teresita Urrea, and Don Pedrito Jaramillo of Los Olmos-have been
the subject of studies. But except for these prominent healers, there are
few accounts about individual curanderas.
The literature commonly describes the faithful as Mexican Americans
of rural and working-class backgrounds who visit curanderas, sometimes
at the expense of time they might have spent at the offices of licensed
physicians. The curandera is a relative, family friend, or neighbor who is
extremely knowledgeable about herbs. She shares a familiar life-style
and the health beliefs and practices of her patients. The curandera can
identify, diagnose, and treat "folk diseases" unique to the Mexican
American community-mal de ojo, susto, empacho, caida de mollera-which
the scientific doctors do not even recognize. She has the advantage of
sharing a common world view, culture, and language with her patients.
In addition, because she operates in a small, well-integrated community
* Leslie Gene Hunter received the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history from the University of Ari-
zona. He is chairman of the Department of History at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the
review editor of Hstory Computer Review (formerly History Microcomputer Review). Cecilia Aros
Hunter received a B.A. in history and a Master's in library science from the University of Arizona
and a Master's in political science and history from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She is the
archivist at the South Texas Archives and preservation officer at the James C. Jernigan Library at
Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Together they have published several articles and a book on lo-
cal history of South Texas. They would like to dedicate this article to the memory of George O.
Coalson.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed July 22, 2014.