Introduction to American Studies


Introduction to American Studies

Southwest Questions

  1. How did the dream of a railroad that never came to be permanently shape the American Southwest?
The Southwestern region in U.S. covers states including: Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, California, and Arizona and its population is estimated at 19 million people. The first people rumored to have inhabited the South West region are the Puebloan people and they were the original residents of what nowadays is the Arizonian Old Oraibi, New Mexico’s village of Acoma, and Walpi’s Hopi villages. These inhabitants are recorded to live in such villages from the 1100s but new arrivals started trickling in by 14th century and some of these new tribes included the Utes, Apache, and Navajo. The arrival of Spanish and Anglo-Americans seemingly brought immense variations to the Pueblo and Hopi tribes/Indian cultures. The Spanish conquered the South West region in early 16th century and they took up humiliating the Indians by treating them poorly and even went further to destroy the natives’ culture through demolishing ceremonial and religious objects. The result was the Pueblo revolt in 1680 which saw the oust of the Spanish from New Mexico even though they reclaimed the region again in 1692 and by 1800s Anglo-Americans started voyaging into the region.

The new immigrants who entered the South West region had massive impact in that the Spanish brought new culture and Spaniards’ customs which since then have shaped the native culture of the region. The construction of St. Louis Southwestern Railway opened the entire cotton belt and enhanced trade within and without the region.

  1. You are a small-time Mexican American rancher in the Southwest. You like to let your cattle graze freely, but they and you are constantly under attack from hostile Native Americans. Where do you most likely live, and what do you do to defend against Indian attacks?

Similarly, there are 3 dominant cultures in the region which emerged around 100 AD and they include: the Northern Plateaus’ Ancestral Puebloans, The Central Mountains’ Mogollon and the Desert Hohokam. By 15th century majority of the tribes had disappeared but present majority of Native American tribes allege to be descendent from the three ancient cultures. The Southwest region is culturally varied, with noteworthy Hispanic American and Anglo American populations along with more regional Native American, Asian American, and African American populations. I live in Baldy town in New Mexico and always under constant attack by the Native Americans and therefore I would use the State law enforcing authorities to safeguard and defend my grazing rights in the event of attacks.

  1. You are moseying down a typical Mexican American neighborhood in the Southwest. Describe what you see.

The Mexican Americans living in the South West region still value their cultural practices and therefore I came across them wearing their traditional clothing. Men were dressed in tailored pants and jackets which were lined with shiny metal/silver buttons and also wore as charros in broad-brimmed sombreros. On the other hand, the women were dressed in china poblana clothes, which were composed of sparkling red skirt decorated with shiny flecks of divergent colors and white peasant top.


  1. This question requires cross-lesson thinking. You’ve read and heard many different types of American regional music. In this lesson, you studied Western Swing Music. Compare and contrast Western Swing Music with one or more other types of American regional music.

Western swing music basically refers to an American subgenre of country music which emerged in the South and West around the 1920s. The music is type of a dance composition which apparently has an up-rhythm beat and it was a mixture of blues, Dixieland jazz, folk, polka, cowboy, rural all mixed with swing and it was play via a hot cord band that regularly augmented it with the steel guitar, pianos, saxophones, and drums. The stringed instruments were electrically amplified and gave the music a characteristic sound. On the other hand, the bluegrass music is generally a type of American roots music which lies in the music genre called country music and was stirred by the Appalachian music. This type of music has varied roots around English, Irish, welsh, Scottish and African-Americans via the integration of jazz fundamentals.  It is a string band music composed of 4 to 7 performers accompanied by sound string instruments like the Dobro, string bass, steel guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, fiddle, double bass, and guitar. The vocal accord features 2, 3, or 4 parts regularly with a modal or dissonant resonance having the peak voice. The tunes of bluegrass music are mostly narratives surrounding daily people lives.


  1. You can’t eat a cook-off. Regardless, how are the Texas chili cook-off and other similar regional cook-offs important parts of regional food culture?

The Texas chili cook-off is a cultural event in Texas whereby numerous competitors prepare specific recipe for the chili con carne delicacy and present it for savor testing. This event is quite important as it shows to the world the regional food culture of the region and this helps in giving the people a sense of identity within their community.


Mormon Culture Region

  1. The Mormon Culture Region is unique because it is made of a group that formed through religious ties rather than ethnic background or physical proximity. Describe the Mormon Culture Region and some of its distinctive characteristics.

Mormonism is a principal religious practice by the Latter Day Saint movement and it shares common beliefs with the LDS. LDS believe that education is amongst the most vital aspects of life while on earth and it is preserved in the subsequent life. The Church completely distances itself from politics and common cuisines include: fry sauce, Apple Beer, jello salad, and funeral potatoes. The most common visual symbol of the LDS Church is a statue showing the Angel Moroni trumpeting and the epistles CTR which means “Choose the Right” shown in a guard logo. Moreover, the Mormon culture of religion has several unique hymns and songs including: We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”, “O My Father”, “Praise to the Man”, “I Am a Child of God” and Come, Come, Ye Saints”.

  1. Why were Danish immigrants overshadowed as an ethnic group? Explain some of their contributions to the Mormon Culture Region.

Danish immigrants were greatly overshadowed as an ethnic group in America since once in the country they spread comparatively into the famous melting pot and apparently they were least unified and therefore lost their awareness of their culture and origins. Their tendency to intermarry with non-Danes and usage of English amongst them wore off their cultural background and this made them become overshadowed. The Danish culture is rich in folklore and fine arts and these aspects influenced the Mormon culture religion in terms of music composing, painting, architecture, and sculpture in that the church adapted music, dancing and folk tales in their religion. Church architecture and symbols such as the Angel Moroni were also adapted from the Danish culture.

  1. Choose one type of material culture from the west that we studied. Interpret it as a reflection of the attitudes and values of the people that made it.

Latino/Hispanic Americans have their origin either from Latin America or Spain. The Hispanics are Venezuelan, Colombian, Puerto Rican, or Mexicans and many of them speak 2 languages, Spanish and English. The Latino have strong family values in that their family unit always covers also the extended one. The father is usually the head of the whole family while mothers have responsibility to take care of the home. They also observe etiquette and give immense importance to great value in appearance and looks as a sense of pride, dignity, and honor.


  1. Compare and contrast the development of Utah and Nevada. Does this indicate that the physical environment does or does not shape a group’s culture? Explain your reasoning.

The region of Utah is composed of mountain valleys, pine forests and arid deserts and was inhabited by the LDS Church in the late 18th and this has seen it grow into a homogenous state with respect to religion whereby recent approximates show that about 63% of the State’s population is Mormons. This has influenced the general Utah culture of the region towards the Mormon Culture. While on the other hand Nevada region is majorly semiarid and desert and its inhabited by the Latinos and Hispanics. The culture is more Hispanic and the paramount denomination is Roman Catholic. Since the two regions were in one time together but separated having different cultural preferences but this doesn’t mean that physical environment does shape a group’s culture. There are other aspects which influence culture including: religion, music, values, music, language, and architecture.

  1. How is the Las Vegas buffet a unique regional foodway? How does it different from other regional foodways? How is it a reflection of American and Las Vegas culture?

Las Vegas buffet shows the unique culinary culture of the city since the history of buffet which dates back to 1940s when Beldon Katleman took the attitude of treating his guests to an array of foodstuffs. Soon it became a trend in the city as all casinos adopted buffet and this has made the Las Vegas buffet earn a slot in the city’s history of unique foodway. It is quite different to other regional foodways as it is not inclined to any major known regional culture but other regional foodways like the barbecue has a predominant cultural importance deeply rooted in social and festival rituals.