National Hispanic Heritage Month, instated in the U.S. in 1988, celebrates and recognizes contributions made by folks tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
September 15 through October 15 encompasses several días de las independencias (days of independence), including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15); Mexico (September 16); Chile (September 18). Indigenous People’s Day, or Día de la Raza, falls on October 11.
Colorado’s land—originally home to the Apache, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute nations and the Pueblo and Shoshone tribes—shifted between control of France, Spain, and Mexico from the 1500s to 1700s. Colorado’s 1876 State Constitution was penned in Spanish, German, and English. Today, Colorado’s population of Latinx/Hispanic residents exceeds 1 million, and Denver is close to one-third Latinx. Figures such as Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, Paula Sandoval, Susana Cordova, Carlos Frésquez, and many others have shaped our social, economic, educational, and political environments.
Engage with the imaginations and actions of Latinx/Hispanic family, friends, and neighbors through these activities and events.
Make Your Own Tamales or Pan con Chumpe
Head to the Sam Gary Library off Roslyn St. in the Central Park neighborhood to try your hand at a Mexican or Salvadoran dish. Make tamales, a dish made of corn-based dough filled with meats, vegetables, and cheeses, from México, on October 5; or pan con chumpe, a Salvadoran turkey sandwich stuffed with toppings, on October 12. This is a bilingual Spanish/English program. Food will be available while supplies last. Register online. denverlibrary.org
See Museo de las Americas’ New Exhibit
Curated by the Chicano/a Murals Project of Colorado, Smoking Mirrors: Visual Histories of Identity, Resistance and Resilience, features works of various mediums created by over twenty artists and muralists from Colorado and New Mexico. These pieces tell stories of Chicano/a identity, resistance and resilience, from the first moments of European contact up through current abolitionist and decolonization social justice movements. Opening October 14. museo.org
Visit What’s Your Story? at History Colorado
Meet 101 people who’ve made an impact on Colorado, including restauranteurs Carolina and Ramon Gonzales, State Senator Polly Baca, Chicano rights activist Corky Gonzales, and muralist Anthony Garcia Sr. Record a video and tell the world what’s important to you, and share it on the big screen for all to see. historycolorado.org
Eat at Comal Heritage Food Incubator
Chefs and entrepreneurs—immigrants and refugees who originate from countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Iraq, and Ethiopia—serve up flavorful food at Comal, a lunch restaurant in northeast Denver.. The incubator also provides support for them to succeed long-term. Menus shift frequently according to who is cooking; consider this place your passport to many different eating experiences. focuspoints.org
More delicious dining options:
–Prieto’s Catering, Mexican (Comal graduate!)
–Cafe Brazil, Brazilian
–Maria Empanada, Argentinian
–Arepas House, Venezuelan
–Los Parceros, Colombian
Watch Fiesta Colorado’s mariachi and dance performances
Directed by Denver native Jeanette Trujillo-Lucero, this Mexican and Spanish dance group helps performers of all ages understand their roots and family traditions. They typically have an annual performance at Live at Levitt, but this year’s event had to be cancelled. Check out last year’s showcase on youtube. youtube.com
Buy party supplies at La Fiesta piñateria
Federal Boulevard in west Denver is well known for its stretch of mercados (markets), panaderias (bakeries), iglesias (churches), and quinceañera formal wear boutiques. La Fiesta on the corner of Federal and 23rd Ave. features a wide variety of piñatas, floral arrangements, and candy. lafiestaymas.com
Shop at Hijos del Sol
Head to the Laitno Cultural Arts Center’s boutique to pick up local artisan goods made locally and all over the Americas. Support Latinx and Indigenous creatives, and learn about this multi-faceted celebration of the ancient native and contemporary Mexican, Mexican American, and Guatemalan traditions that make up Día de los Muertos. Call to schedule a shopping appointment October 9 through 31, daily between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. lcac-denver.org
Honor those passed away, create new things together
The LCAC’s Ofrendas art workshops introduce participants to essential pieces found on traditional altars, including nichos (diorama boxes), barriletes (kites), sugar skull incense holders, and more. Learn about the ancient roots of Mesoamerican traditions, and develop resiliency through grieving and celebrating lost loved ones. Find programming across the Denver metro area from September 22 to October 24. lcac-denver.org
Support food security efforts
Denver’s Westwood neighborhood is home to the Re:Vision co-op. It’s full of positive, hard working helping hands. The area is known as a food desert, meaning there are no accessible grocery stores. Promotoras, community health workers found in just about every nation and culture, are employed by Re:Vision to connect with families and establish participation in personal and communal health. Learn more and find ways to participate at revision.coop.
GrowHaus, serving folks in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, also supports promotoras and rapid response food distribution through its Cosechando Salud (Harvesting Health) program. Since late March, they’ve distributed over 10,000 packages, the equivalent of over 300,000 meals. Promotoras connect with community members to address changing needs and develop virtual and socially distanced programs such as a backyard garden class and upcoming Patio Visit classes on health and wellness. Learn more at thegrowhaus.org.