Sonora Population

73… An ethnic accounting, human nature and life in the Southwest…
Part Two of Three on an Eternal Debate.

Collapsed roofs, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Roofs collapsed into debris filled patios once filled with laughter and song.

Why did Álamos continue on after the mining bust(s)? There is no simple answer because there are always multiple causations. Here are a couple of my theories. First of all, Álamos was once a huge city that served as a regional center that thousands of people people passed through on their way to settle the southwest. The natural beauty of Álamos was unforgettable, it spoke to many in a clear and convincing voice, “here is a wonderful place, priceless”. Immense silver riches remained in the hands of a few families as they moved away to discover new opportunities. They stayed connected by keeping Álamos property and coming back to visit relatives and, or, sending support. When the mining industry closed down there was still workable land, and water, to raise cattle and crops. Four or five thousand people could get by with what was available. Alamos sustained itself by marshaling its resources, energy and lowering its expectations. Beautiful, historic Alamos was, and is, a survivor.

Man making concrete bricks for rebuilding a ruin, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Life can be reduced to bare essentials and survive with grace and dignity.

400 years earlier there were as many as 115,000 indigenous people in Sonora and Sinaloa. And then a monumental migration began. and continues, as traditions and cultures came and left with each passing day. Spanish colonization had extended to north beyond San Franciso, California. What had been Mexico would become the United States and what was the United States’ would become Mexico’s in more ways than one. This is the essence of human nature: discover resources, adapt, reproduce, accumulate and, sadly, hold grudges. If there is a possibility of making a profit by importing-exporting customs and traditions, here, anywhere, will influence there and there will influence here. And…

Now, we are going to look back at 1920: that year’s census found 275,127 people living in the state of Sonora. 13.8% were of pure indigenous backgrounds, 37,914, of these 6,765 spoke an indigenous language. 40.4% were of mixed backgrounds, 111,089. 41.9% were of white backgrounds, 115,151. The 2000 census indicated that 2,183,108 people were living in 72 municipios, like Alamos, that make up the great state of Sonora. The 2010 census population was 2,662,440, and increase of 480,000 in ten years. Also, 3.9% of Alamos’ population, and 5.9% of Navajoa, are of indigenous backgrounds and across the state 55,609 speak indigenous languages. What will be Sonora’s 2020’s population and where will they be coming from and going to? And what will be the impacts on Alamos?

Coca-cola truck gets water in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Even Coca-cola trucks get thirsty, and when they do, they drink water.

I have spent various degrees of time in San Diego, Ensenada, Tijuana, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Alamos, Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Francisco. Since the 1950’s, I have lived in neighborhoods along side Mexican-American families, many who did not speak English inside their own homes. I never really knew where the border between USA and Mexico began or stopped, it didn’t seem to matter. Currently, this mixed nation has migrated as far north as Alaska and as far south as Chile. The ever increasing human population is pressured to go somewhere, to do something, to survive.

People, throughout time, have entertained the pros and cons of change. Today, is no different. But there is a difference, the last 200 years has seen a global human population explosion that is expanding change at a exponential rate. The planet reached one billion humans around 1800, six billion in 1999, seven billion in 2011 and… This is change driven by a constant: human nature wants more humans. More humans means more opportunities, more consumers, more taxpayers, more soldiers, more followers and more believers. More and more and more and then…

The planet could care less if humans ultimately over-produce, over-extend, over-consume and experience a population crash by their own hands or natural events with global impact wipe out major population centers. More is less predictable, less has better odds of more sustainability. In summation, change is a product of human nature and population growth.

An introduction to a Short History of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

“Here is something Special”, Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado noted in 1540 as he headed north, passing by tall white rocks on Alamos de Sierra. This is the opening chapter to “A Short History of Álamos” written, filmed and edited by Anders Tomlinson. Narrated by Bruce Miles. Soundtrack by SonicAtomics and Estudiantina de Álamos.

Álamos shares a strong maternal bond, steeped in history, with all the Southwest.

Juan Batista de Anza arrived and departed from Álamos in the spring of 1775 with silver, and local families, to settle “Monterey and the Californias”, including San francisco. Another expedition, five years later, left Álamos to settle Los Angeles.

The conclusion to a Short History of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico embraces the Sierra Madre.

Here, Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral in the Plaza, a three-tiered belfry, shines gold in morning light. Here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred by the forbidding beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidentals. Together, they shape the Álamos experience.

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