Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Molly P Rozum
In the early 1970s, the members of the small-town Ojos de Agua de Ocampo, Michoacán, in Mexico, began migrating to the United States to escape poverty. As they continued to work in the fruit fields of California, some of them decided to follow the fruit, which eventually led them to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, where their Mexican community expanded through the late 1990s. In this thesis, I argue that without following the fruit, Mexicans would not have found the Black Hills and job security as loggers. The environmental similarities between the Black Hills and Ojos de Agua de Ocampo influenced Mexicans to settle in the location, and their community grew as Mexican women migrated into the area. Following the fruit permitted full-time employment for Mexicans in the United States. However, some Mexican men traveled to Montana, where their relationships with local women connected them to the Black Hills timber industry. Their success in the work field of timber influenced two waves of Mexican migrant men to the Black Hills during the 1980s and 1990s. Mexican migrants found it easy to adapt and settle because of the matching environment to their mother state in Mexico. Nevertheless, the third wave of Mexican migrants missed their language, culture, and partners, and thus, introduced Mexican women into the Black Hills community. Mexican women brought culture and traditions into the community, and the community began growing as more Mexicans migrated into the Rushmore State. My research for this thesis offers new sources for the field as it relies heavily on oral history. Mexican American history in the Great Plains requires development and adding the Mexican American account to South Dakota reassures Mexican immigrants that their stories hold importance.
Black Hills, Logging, Mexican Migrants, South Dakota, Timber Industry
Number of Pages
University of South Dakota
Escalante, Sabrina, "Little Mexico in the Black Hills: A Study of Mexican Migration and Settlement From 1970-1990s" (2023). Dissertations and Theses. 160.