With the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in the 1880s came the emergence of a modern and profoundly multicultural New Mexico. Native Americans, working-class Mexicans, elite Hispanos, and black and white newcomers all commingled and interacted in the territory in ways that had not been previously possible. But what did it mean to be white in this multi-ethnic milieu? And how did ideas of sexuality and racial supremacy shape ideas of citizenry and determine who would govern the region?
Coyote Nation considers these questions as it explores how New Mexicans evaluated and categorized racial identities through bodily practices. Where ethnic groups were numerous and-in the wake of miscegenation-often difficult to discern, how one dressed, bathed, spoke, gestured, or even stood was largely instrumental in conveying one's race. Even such practices as cutting one's hair, shopping, consuming alcohol, or embalming a deceased loved one could inextricably link a person to a very specific racial identity. A fascinating history of a plural and polyglot region, Coyote Nation will be of enormous value to historians of race and ethnicity in American culture.
"Mitchell's book is the most original work on New Mexico history since the publication of Ramon A. Gutierrez'a award-winning When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away. . . . Mitchell's study of sexuality and race in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is likely to spark as much controversy as Gutierrez's study.—Richard Melzer, American Historical Review