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Roots and Blooms: Nuestras Raices Florecen

by Patty Arvielo & Mindy Burbano Stearns
NPF Board Directors Patty Arvielo and Mindy Burbano Stearns in Yosemite National Park - Tami Heilman

Family gatherings at the nearest mission or national park were part of our family’s tradicion. An outdoors pastime over shared food, stories, and laughter.

As the daughters of immigrants, serving on National Park Foundation Board of Directors is about preserving national parks, and our heritage as Americanos in the making of our great nation.

We are proud champions of the National Park Foundation’s efforts to support Latino heritage sites through the Foundation's Latino Heritage Fund. Alongside other generous donors, supporting the Latino Heritage Fund is an investment in our herencia.

Mission San José at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (NPS Photo)

From early Spanish colonial sites in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, to frontier outposts in Wyoming and Montana, Latino culture has been an indelible part of the national fabric and identity of the United States. Latino heritage is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the United States, growing and blooming even today.

There is no greater way to honor Latino Heritage Month than to support programs that celebrate the Latino culture preserved in our national parks, and heritage sites and to visit them. From San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio, TX, to Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos National Monuments in St. Augustine, FL, national park landscapes and historical sites allow visitors to see, touch, listen to and experience the richness of a heritage that predated the arrival of northern Europeans at Jamestown and Plymouth.

César E. Chávez National Monument (NPS Photo / Ruben Andrade)

Within the National Park System, there are 24 parks specifically dedicated to sharing stories about Latino history and culture. One such park is the César E. Chávez National Monument at the site of Chávez’ home and former headquarters for the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which Chávez co-founded with Dolores Huerta. This newest Latino heritage site commemorates the role Latinos have played in shaping the modern labor rights movement for all Americans, and farm workers in particular. However, Latino history and culture can be found at hundreds of national park sites across the country.

We are proud of the National Park Foundation’s efforts with partners to help preserve, amplify, and elevate these stories through the Foundation’s Latino Heritage Fund.

Recognizing and celebrating Latino history in our national parks is critical to ensuring that Latino heritage is included in a fuller historical narrative. It signifies that, yes, Latino heritage is a part of American history. Nuestra cultura y herencia es integral al pais.

We encourage all people to learn about and to honor the contributions of Latinos to our nation and celebrate Latino culture by visiting a national park.

For us, as Latinas, it is important to instill in our children the cultural significance of family gatherings at missions and parks. It is also our personal mission to ensure the next generation of Americanos learn about the contributions of immigrants and early Latinos to our nation through the wealth of knowledge and history our national parks have to offer.

At our nation’s Latino heritage sites, every month is Latino Heritage Month.

Nuestros parques nacionales son nuestra herencia.

Patty Arvielo and Mindy Burbano Stearns serve on the National Park Foundation Board of Directors.