The deceptive landscape: a study in ethnicity in Hornitos, California, 1860-1900

Studying relict landscapes has long provided geographers with clues to reconstructing past cultures; however, a focus on the landscape alone may ultimately prove deceptive. Equally vital is an examination of the social and historical conditions under which a landscape has evolved. This paper investigates ethnic landscapes and relations in Hornitos, California, a former gold-mining community located at the southern end of the "mother lode" region. While the contemporary landscape perpetuates the town's popular historical image as a "Mexican pueblo," a study of census and property tax assessment documents allows for a much more encompassing reconstruction of the past socio-spatial environment. This case study provides geographers further insight into the complex ethnic and race relationships that have long characterized the American West.

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