Origin of the Word Cholo

Origin of the Word Cholo

The origen of the word "cholo" varies from place to place in Latin America but we'll focus on its meaning used here in "el Norte" (Estados Unidos).

Cholo comes from the word Xoloitzcuintlil (pronounced "show-low-itz-QUEENT-ly") from the Nahuatl language used by the Aztecs in the 7th century. Xolo, short for Xoloitzcuintlil refers to a hairless dog that is native to Latin America. The Aztecs believed that this dog guided people through the underworld after death.

When the Spaniards showed up in Mexico, they created a class system where the Criollos were at the top and indigenous were at the bottom. They would describe indigenous people as Xolos.

Fast-forward to the 1940s en "el Norte" A class system existed again with White America at the top, while the rest at the bottom. Young Mexican-Americans embodied the Zoot suit and Pachuco lifestyle because they were stuck between the two cultures of American Lifestyle and Mexican Tradition. The lifestyle of the Pachuco began to transition into the lifestyle of the Xolo "Cholo". The zoot suit riots and the Chicano movement gave birth to a new culture.

By the 1960s Chicanos embraced the word Cholo into their culture. Influenced and inspired by their surroundings they took pride in the struggles, hardships, ancestry, and revolution.

1 comment

  • Pat beard

    I would rather be called a chola or a Pachuca than a Chicana. Just a preference. Thanks for the article.

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