Montana is home to about 34,000 Latinos, about 3 percent of the state’s population. But it is a growing, young community. While most of the growth has occurred in southwest Montana, specifically Gallatin County, other counties across the state have experienced growth as well. Montana has a more than 200-year-old history of Latinos in the state—those who came as furriers, railroad track workers (traqueros), or sugar beet workers (betabeleros)—yet the history of this community and the new migrant community remains invisible. Who are Latinos? What are their origin countries? What is driving them to migrate to our state and why is it important to learn about this community? Let’s talk about Latino Montana, about the culture, history, and economic diversity of this growing community in our state and across the United States.
Bridget Kevane is a professor of Latin American and Latino Studies Program as well as the director of Liberal Studies at Montana State University. Her research focuses on Latino/a studies, specifically the literature, culture and history of Latino/a communities in the United States. In addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, she has written four books, including her most recent, The Dynamics of Jewish Latino Relationships: Hope and Caution (Palgrave).