More precisely, this notion may be interpreted as being a certain de facto acceptance of the Mexican population as part of the American cultural heritage. There are many discriminatory criteria which have marked the history of the United States. The nationality and the family descent was often a reason for social exclusion. Therefore, the identification of Mexicans as being Americans as well represented an important step in their integration in the society.
The notion of "Latino" has often been used especially in recent history to define "people originating from, or having a heritage related to, Latin America, in recognition of the fact that this set of people is actually a superset of many nationalities. Since the term "Latin" comes into use as the least common denominator for all peoples of Latin America in recognition of the fact that some romance language (Spanish, Portuguese, French) is the native tongue of the majority of Latin Americans, this term is widely accepted by most" (Mexican History Study Guide, 2003). Therefore, it can be said the notion refers to a general view of the Latin presence, especially in the U.S. However, the issue of whether one identifies himself with the notion is rather hard to assess. More precisely, identification with such a term would imply the historical heritage of all Latin countries. Form this point-of-view, some Latino origin people do not accept this labeling, and prefer a national identity rather than a cultural one.
Finally, one of the most important notions for the history of the Mexican population in the U.S. And in California in particular is that of "Chicano." It represents the name of the Mexican civil rights movement that took place in the 1960s in the context of the general desire for equal rights and no discriminatory behavior throughout the U.S. The Chicano Movement represented a significant moment in the recent history of the U.S. because it placed the focus on the rebirth of the Mexican identity in the amalgam of nations that have come to be the West part of the country, and in particular the Californian state. Similar to the Californios in the past, the Chicanos too focus on different means to insure that the cultural and social identity of the Americans of Mexican descent or origin is represented in the communities they live in. More precisely, Chicanos try to address political matters concerning the Mexican population such as "increasing the number of Chicano candidates, convincing non-Chicano candidates to commit themselves to the needs of the Mexican-American community, conducting broad-scale voter registration and community organization drives, working for appointment of more Chicanos in government" (Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California, 2004).
Aside from particular educational programs, social services, and economic changes and improvements, the representatives of the Chicanos have tried to reconsider the true identity of the Mexican culture through "art, music, literature, theater, and other forms of expression (which) have flourished. Spanish-language and bilingual media, including television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and motion pictures, have expanded in number and impact" (Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California, 2004). From this perspective, it can be said that the Chicanos represent the symbol of the expression of the Mexican cultural identity in the U.S. And in California in particular.
Overall, it can be concluded that the use of terms such as Spanish, Californio, Mexican-American, Latinos, and Chicano are useful for presenting the landmarks of the history of the Mexican presence in the United States.
California Historical Eras. N.d. 6 March 2008 http://calrepublic.tripod.com/history.html#californio
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California. A History of Mexican-Americans in California: The Chicano Movement. 2004. 6 March 2008 http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/5views/5views5e.htm
Immigration. Becoming Part of the United States. 2005. 6 March 2008. http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/mexican2.html
Jenkins, P. (1997). A history of the United States. New York: Palgrave.
Mexican History Study Guide. Are Chicanos the same as Mexicans? 2003. 6 March 2008. http://www.mexica.net/chicano.html
Word Web online. 2008. 6 March 2008. http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/MEXICANAMERICAN