In 1998, the Northwest Folklife Festival centered the culture of Chicanos and Mexicanos in Washington. The focus was called Norte y Sur, Un Solo Pueblo: The Chicano/Mexicano Legacy In to the New Millennium. With the leadership of the 1998 Advisory Council, composed of scholars, community leaders and educators from around the state, Northwest Folklife curated historic exhibits, live performances, workshops, panel discussions and hands-on family activities for the entire Pacific Northwest to experience at the Festival.
Now in 2018, exactly 20 years later, we revisit this cultural focus with a fresh new lens, understanding that sharing and celebrating one’s culture is a continuous process. Our 2018 Cultural Focus, entitled Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond: Mexican American and Chicana/o Roots in the Northwest, takes the legacy from our 1998 Festival and aims to continue this storytelling, cultural exposure and celebration.
In our El Legado (The Legacy) Series, we speak to the original 1998 Advisory Council members to reflect on their experience of the Festival, how they have continued to celebrate their culture, but most importantly, we seek to pass down their wisdom to the current generation of Mexican American and Chicana/os and for those yet to come.

Laura Esparza

Laura Esparza is the Division Manager for the Division of Museums and Cultural Programs for the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department where she oversees eleven arts facilities including museums and cultural centers across Austin.

Ms. Esparza’s training is in theater; she was the recipient of the esteemed San Diego Fellowship at UCSD where she received her M.F.A. in Latino Theater. In 1994, she received the NEA-TCG Director’s Fellowship, an honor given to only four theater directors in the nation, every other year. This fellowship took her to seven different cities across the U.S. where as an artist in residence at regional theaters, she could direct and observe professional practices. She has directed over 75 plays, written three, and has been published in anthologies of Latino Theater and poetry.



Dr. Carlos B. Gil

Carlos B. Gil is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of several history books on Mexico and Mexican Americans. His latest work, We Became Mexican American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream (2012, 2014), tells the story of his family and their journey through immigration, surviving the Geat Depression and growing up in California in the 1920s. He was born in San Fernando, California, and currently resides in Seattle.

In 1998, Dr. Gil participated as a member of the 1998 Advisory Council for the Northwest Folklife Festival, which centered on Mexicano and Chicano voices in the Pacific Northwest. Now, 20 years after that Festival, we continue to celebrate Mexican American and Chicana/o culture through our 2018 Cultural Focus, Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond. To help us celebrate this 20 year anniversary, we have reconnected with Dr. Gil to hear his retelling of the 1998 Festival and how he continues to live out his culture and heritage.



Dr. Jerry Garcia

Dr. Jerry Garcia was born and raised in Quincy, Washington and is the son of Ruben Garcia de Leon and Gloria Torres. After serving three years in the U.S. Army, he went on to receive his BA and MA at Eastern Washington University and Ph.D. from Washington State University. He currently teaches at Northern Arizona University in the Ethnic Studies Program. Dr. Garcia has had academic appointments with Iowa State University, Michigan State University, and is the former Director of the Chicano Education Program and the College Assistance Migrant Program at Eastern Washington University.

Dr. Garcia’s research focus is on Chicano History, Latin American History, History of Mexico, Asians in the Americas, immigration, empire, masculinity, and race in the Americas.  Dr. Garcia has published 5 books and over 15 peer-reviewed articles. His forthcoming publications include, “Mexicans, Race, and Immigration: Historicizing the Postville, Iowa Raid of 2008”; and is working on a manuscript that examines the Chicano Movement in Washington State.



Alfredo Arreguín

Seattle-based artist Alfredo Arreguín is known for his colorful, ornate paintings that reimagine the perception of humans, nature, and mythology. Born in Morelia, Mexico, Arreguín moved to Seattle in 1957 and began his career in interior design and painting after serving in the army. In 1979 he represented the U.S. at the 11th International Festival of Painting at Cagnes-sur Mer, France, where he won the Palm of People Award. In 1980, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the arts. In 1988 he was chosen to design the poster for the Centennial Celebration of the State of Washington and was also invited to design the White House Easter Egg.

In 1995, Arreguin received an OHTLI Award, the highest recognition given by the Mexican government to the commitment of distinguished individuals who perform activities that contribute to promoting the Mexican culture abroad. His work can be seen in the permanent collections of two Smithsonian Museums: The National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.