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  • Elizabeth Garcia

#ShareHerStory: Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton

Updated: Dec 31, 2018

The little known history of a Mexican American pioneer woman.

To celebrate Latino Heritage Month this year I'll be featuring stories and books by and about Latinos/as/x  that will be great resources to educate yourself and share with family and loved ones.  For today's post I'll be featuring little known Mexican American pioneering author Maria Amaparo Ruiz de Burton.

Ruiz de Burton came from a privileged landed class in California, those Californios that endured the tumultuous transition throughout the Southwest from Mexican rule to U.S. rule after the end of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. Her family experienced the loss of land that came from the the challenges brought by Anglo squatters to their rightful ownership of their property. In her novels, the first ones to have been written in English by a Mexican American woman, she depicted the tensions between Anglos and Mexicans during this time period.

The uniqueness of Ruiz de Burton is that in her novels she depicted the perspectives and experiences of the conquered, a voice that was never represented in the literature of the time.  Her most well known novel The Squatter and the Don, was published under the pen name, C. Loyal.  As scholars Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita explain,“The ‘C.’ stood for Ciudadano, or ‘Citizen,’ and ‘Loyal’ for Leal—that is, Ciudadano Leal, a ‘Loyal Citizen,’ a common letter- closing practice used in official government correspondence in Mexico during the nineteenth century” (Latina Legacies,77). It was a way for her to hide both her gender and ethnic ancestry during a time where both might have prohibited from her works being published.

Through her novels she was able to express her strong opinions against the racism of her white elite peers, the discrimination experienced by Mexican Americans, and to give voice to the many voiceless of her time period.

To learn more about her history visit this link.  And make sure to read her historical novels, The Squatter and the Don and Who Would Have Thought It?

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