A Century and a Half of Ethnic Change in Texas,
TERRY G. JORDAN*
N THE CULTURAL AS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL SENSE, TEXAS HAS ALWAYS
been a borderland or even a shatterbelt. The Amerindian regional
diversity of pre-Columbian times, based partially in climatic contrasts,
was obliterated, only to be replaced by an even more complex human
mosaic. Those who would understand Texas, now as well as 150 years
ago, must once and for all discard the myth of the typical Texan, a
chauvinistic notion that, on occasion, has even penetrated the scholarly
community,' and accept the concept of a multiethnic society. Texas is a
unit only in the functional political sense; culturally it is a balkanized
zone entrapped in an artificial administrative framework.2
Texans, in short, inhabit a border province. The state, in common
with eastern Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Alsace-Lorraine, and South
Tirol, lies astride a fundamental culturo-linguistic divide between Ro-
mance and Germanic civilizations, a divide lent heightened contrast
here by the addition of a large non-European, Amerindian cultural
component on the Latin side.
In such situations, when an artificial political framework is imposed
upon a cultural borderland, ethnic groups are created. Ethnicity im-
plies minority status in a larger society dominated numerically, and
* Terry G. Jordan, Walter Prescott Webb Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, has pub-
lished many articles and books on cultural geography. His recent works include Texas Log Build-
ings: A Folk Architecture (1978), Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy (1982), and American Log
Buildings: An Old World Heritage (1985).
'Evon Z. Vogt, "American Subcultural Continua as Exemplified by the Mormons and Tex-
ans," American Anthropologist, LVII (1955), 1,163-1,172; Joseph Leach, The Typical Texan: Biog-
raphy of an American Myth (Dallas, 1952).
2This is the theme of Terry G. Jordan, John L. Bean, Jr., and William M. Holmes, Texas: A
Geography (Boulder, Colo., 1984). See also Terry G. Jordan, "Population Origin Groups in
Rural Texas," Map Supplement No. 13, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, LX
(June, 1970), 404-405, plus folded map; Terry G. Jordan, "Population Origins in Texas,
1850," Geographical Review, LIX (Jan., 1969), 83-103; and Donald W. Meinig, Imperial Texas:
An Interpretive Essay in Cultural Geography (Austin, 1969).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/. Accessed January 27, 2015.