Umatilla county has indeed changed from its early formation following the arrival of Oregon Trail pioneers. The face of Umatilla county now largely consists of a new type of pioneer, the Latino pioneer. Hispanos, the partial heritage of today's Latinx, are not a recent arrival in Oregon. The colonizing spirit of the Spaniards brought them as far north as Oregon in the 16th century, long before the expeditions of the Oregon Trail. While there are no vestiges of their settlement in what is today Oregon, traces of hispandad are documented since the period of US expansion after the Mexican-American War. According to early census and correspondence records, “the first person of Latino origin listed in the  Oregon census is Guadalupe de la Cruz, a thirteen-year old boy residing in Oregon City. By 1860, twenty Mexicans, including five women, lived in Oregon City," describes Jerry Garcia in his Oregon Encyclopedia essay, "Latinos in Oregon." Today, Umatilla county is home to at least 2 school districts with a Latinx population greater than 50%, the majority of which is Latinx: Hermiston School District, 58%, and Umatilla, 73%, according to the Oregon Department of Education's School Profile data. Stanfield School District is a close 47% Latinx. Their neighbor, Morrow SD, in Morrow County, has a Latinx student population of 59%. One wouldn't guess the size of the Latinx demographic in any of these schools based on the absent percentage of Latinx administrators, teachers, and in the case of Morrow SD, even the photos decorating its district website.
What does this transformation mean for these rural Oregon Counties? How does the cultural fabric of the county reflect the growth of Latino demographic? And equally important, if the numbers in the school systems' personnel are not mirroring the Latino growth in the county schools, then where are the adult Latino/as?
The information in this section of Espejitos explores the new face of Umatilla County through conversations with some of its oldest Latina residents and their progeny.