Friday, April 29, 2011


Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1981 (Arizona State University, Southwest Photo Collection)

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, April 2011 (photo by Devon Veater)

Sign in Guadalupe, April 2011 (photo by Devon Veater)

Approximately one square mile just south of Tempe, between Baseline Rd and Elliot; I17 Freeway and Priest Dr.    
             The Town of Guadalupe, named after the patron saint of Mexico, is a tri-culture community that was established in 1907 and is home to 5,200 people.  It is roughly one square mile of land that is surrounding on three sides by Tempe and one side by Phoenix.  It lies just east of the I-10 and between Baseline and Elliot.  Priest Drive changes to Avenida Del Yaqui as it intersects the town from north to south.
             The birth of the Town of Guadalupe comes from one of the three resident cultures.  The Yaqui Indians came from Mexico and immigrated to the area after years of fighting with the Spanish and then with Mexico after its independence.  They sided with Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution and were forced to flee after his army was defeated.  The Yaquis came to the Salt River Valley and found work in agriculture, specifically in expanding the canal systems.  They established the community of Guadalupe and it grew as Mexican immigrants began moving to the area.  It has become a common stopping place for Mexican migrant workers due to the familiar Mexican culture that is prevalent.  Many of the residents speak Spanish and English and it is truly a tri-culture community, proven by the many community celebrations that occur during each year.  Julio Caesar Chavez is celebrated in April, Easter is celebrated in May, which includes traditional Yaqui dances, and US Independence is celebrated on July 4th.              
            As one drives through Guadalupe there is a small town feel to it.  Almost all of the houses are small, with chain link fences separating the properties.  Many of the houses are little more than shacks, but there are many of the houses that are well kept with pretty flower gardens.  In the center of town sits a large dirt baseball field that also serves as a parking lot for the Our Lady of Guadalupe church.  This is the gathering place for the community events.  Stray dogs and young children roam the area along with adults.  The vast majority of people living in Guadalupe are of Mexican and Mexican Indian descent.  Due to this, the Town of Guadalupe has been the target of anti-immigration practices.  Local authorities have repeatedly entered Guadalupe asking for legal documents to prove US citizenship.  These practices, called sweeps, have sent numerous US citizens to holding facilities until proof of citizenship can be proven.  It is a blatant example of extreme racial profiling. 
            There are signs posted around the area warning people not to take pictures of the Yaqui traditional dances.  The sacredness of the dress and dance of the traditional Yaqui is enforced by modern law.  Town ordinance 4-244-20 prohibits picture taking.  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is old and the highlight of the town.  Built in 1919, it holds the original look and feel and is still used actively for Sunday worship.
            To the west of Guadalupe lies South Mountain Resort with its green golf course and clean walled neighborhoods.  Its a stark contrast to the desert dirt of Guadalupe.  To the north of Guadalupe sits the giant Arizona Mills Mall and its bulging commercial district.  Again, there is a marked contrast when driving from this area of large new buildings with neon signs and crowded streets and then moving south a few hundred yards into the quiet, slow moving Town of Guadalupe.  There are no laws forbidding citizens of Guadalupe to move out of their poor section of the city and into the larger, more spacious areas that are so close.  However, historical racial tensions and inequalities continue to build metaphorical walls of a “third border” (Davis & Moctezuma, 1999) making it very difficult for those from Guadalupe to enter the gated communities of the rich dominant groups.

- Devon Veater, Seth Fawcett, and Travis Simpson, Jr.


Davis, Mike and Alessandra Moctezuma. 1999. “Policing the Third Border.” Colorlines, Fall 1999.

Gilroy, Marily. (2000). INNOVATIONS AND PROGRAMS: Dreams and Spirits Soar at
Guadalupe Center; Town, Tribe, and South Mountain Community College Working Together. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 10(25), 30.

Trujillo, O. V. (1998). The Yaqui of Guadalupe, Arizona: A century of cultural survival through trilingualism. American Indian Culture & Research Journal, 22(4), 67.

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