Traditional skill/art/craft: Charrería, Cowboy Rope Work
Ethnic Background: Mexican
Apprentice: Israel Cortes
Charrería is a skill and art form that involves horsemanship, cattle work and sophisticated use of the rope that dates back to the 1500s during the Spanish colonization when horses and cattle were introduced to the Americas. The sport has been known as the national sport of Mexico since 1933. Charrería is showcased at carnivals, festivals, public and private events in big and small towns across Mexico where people gather to witness and practice this art form. I grew up unofficially practicing Charrería as part of our daily lives farming to make a living. When I came to the United States, I looked for an instructor to improve my roping skills and I have been performing for the last 10 years or so.
I learned the basic skills of Charrería from my father and grandfather. They were both talented working with horses, cattle and using the rope. They taught me how to ride horses, how to work with cattle and my early steps using the rope not so much as an art form, but more as a way of life. Our farming activities involved riding horses as means of transportation, cattle work as means of obtaining milk for food and the use of the rope came as a result of our need to rope the horses and cattle in our daily activities.
When I came to the United States I realized there were not many Latino events that brought the community together as Charrería does in Mexico, particularly in a way that showcased our heritage as Latino. I longed for those gatherings where families and communities came together to appreciate Charrería. Practicing Charrería in the United States has made me feel connected to my people, my culture, and my homeland. The added benefit of practicing Charrería in the United States is the feeling of bringing a part of the Latino cultural history to Mexican Americans, especially to our youth, who might otherwise miss out on learning about this part of their heritage.
I started visiting Oregon in early 2007 when I met my wife who is from Corvallis. Having grown up in a small village in Mexico, both my wife and I agreed that we wanted to start a family in a small town so our children could experience nature and the outdoors as much as possible. For that reason, Oregon was the natural place we both thought of when we were ready to start our family. In late 2010, we settled in Springfield and it has been a real joy to showcase Charrería with this great community we call home.
Birthplace: Jalisca, Mexico
I grew up in a rural village in Jalisco, Mexico. My family made a living farming. We raised cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs, and chickens and I was tasked with the cattle and the horse work. As a result, I developed a passion for Charrería. My father and grandparents were excellent horsemen and talented in the use of the rope and always strived to pass on those talents to us. During our vilalge and township’s celebrations I got to admire the artistry of Charrería and spectacular performances, and also to experience Mexican culture at it’s finest. Those events showcased the lifestyle of old Mexico. It was like being part of a living history. There was also the community aspect, where everyone from the village and surrounding areas came together to enjoy a shared experience. This was also reflected in the solidarity the Charros showed towards one another in the arena during their performances. From a very early age I was intrigued by how Charrería brought people together. I excelled in school and at age 14 I moved away to attend a boarding school and I did not ride or practice while I was there. After finishing with school I moved to the United States and started riding horses again. This time I took on Charrería more seriously under the guidance of an instructor and I have now been performing for over 10 years.
In November 2012 and in June 2013, I was awarded the Champion title for Heeling in the Team Roping event by the Oregon Charro Association. Prior to that, I have received several honors, awards and acknowledgments by government and school staff for my participation at community and school events, most in California and some in the state of Oregon.
Performed in the University of Oregon parade at Fiesta Mexicana in Woodburn (2011-2012)
Performed at Mexican Independence Day celebration in Eugene (2011)
Performed at Fiesta Latina in Springfield (2012)
Led a workshop for Latino students in the Migrant Education Program through Lane Education Service District in Springfield (2012)
Led a workshop at an art summer camp for Latino families through Eugene Arte Latino and Downtown Languages (2012)
Performed at outreach events at the University of Oregon for minority students in Eugene (2012)
Performed at fundraising event for Organizations in Eugene (2012)
I have some presentations scheduled, but welcome a call or an e-mail for more details on those.