Chamizal National Memorial and “Persons in Between”

Welcome to Manuscript Monday!

Tomorrow, February 4th, will be 40 years since Chamizal become part of the National Park Service (although it wasn’t until 1966 that it became Chamizal National Memorial). The once-disputed boundary lands of El Paso in the United States and Juarez, in Mexico now contain a peace memorial thanks to a treaty finalized in 1963.

Mural at Chamizal National Memorial

Mural at Chamizal National Memorial

Chamizal National Memorial history of US Mexico border in El Paso The Chamizal Blues people dislocated by border disputes National Parks Conservation Association Manuscript Monday Texas

In reading about the history of Chamizal, I came across a beautiful research article by Jeffrey M. Schulze, entitled “The Chamizal Blues: El Paso, the Wayward River, and the Peoples in Between.” I gained access to the full article and was engaged in learning about the fluctuating boundary of the Rio Grande River, and what became of those “persons in between” who were required to relocate once the peace treaty was finalized.

Looking across the border into Juarez, Mexico

Looking across the border into Juarez, Mexico

Border Patrol truck in Texas.

Border Patrol truck in Texas.

 

My own stop at The Chamizal Memorial, in 2010, was part of a cross country road trip I made with our dog, Baxter, and formed one of the later chapters in my manuscript. The chapter does not focus on the memorial but parallels the entire trip with earlier memories. It also doesn’t mention that I accidentally got in line to cross the border into Mexico before figuring out where to exit for Chamizal.

US-Mexico Border Crossing. El Paso, Texas

US-Mexico Border Crossing. El Paso, Texas

US/Mexico Border in El Paso, Texas

US/Mexico Border in El Paso, Texas

 

But there is never only one outlet for everything we learn in and about a given place. After reading Schulze’s article, I also began a new essay about land, displacement and identity. I’m currently reading about South African land history and a novel about an African Farm, and it’s impossible to learn anything new without applying what I’ve learned elsewhere, as well as my own history and understanding. I think that’s why essays might be my favorite work to read and write. I love personal narrative drawn from multiple sources of inspiration. The most difficult part (for me) is settling my frantic brain down enough to focus on one of the many things I want to write and get it finished to where I’m satisfied before moving on.

Chamizal National Memorial history of US Mexico border in El Paso The Chamizal Blues people dislocated by border disputes National Parks Conservation Association Manuscript Monday Texas

Speaking of focus, it’s time to get back to this offline work of mine. I hope this Monday finds you at the beginning of a productive and low-stress week.

Love, Marla

Traveling Marla and Baxter stopping at Chamizal NM in 2010.

Traveling Marla and Baxter stopping at Chamizal NM in 2010.

 

7 Comments on “Chamizal National Memorial and “Persons in Between”

    • Well, first let me say that I think reading Mandela’s book, Long Walk to Freedom, is a must. While it is a first-person account of how he became a Freedom Fighter, it also shows the changes in the country that led to the revolution. I also think that if you will be working with black South Africans, they will have more respect for you’ve read that book.
      I like to read a mix of strictly historical books and first-person non-fiction because I think pairing the two give a more thorough history.
      I already read The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and All Things Wild and Wonderful by Kobie Kruger, which were very insightful on life among the wildlife.

      I’m currently working through multiple books: Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith; Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane; The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics by Crais and McClendon; The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (fiction).

      On my list but not yet started: White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History by Fredrickson; The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Reconsiderations in Southern African History); Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400-1948

      Hope that helps. Let me know more info on your trip, and if you’re close enough maybe we can get together for dinner while you’re here. 🙂

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