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I am pleased to join co-editors Gus Carlo and Miguel Carranza in this special issue of Great Plains Research, focusing on the "Latino Experience on the Great Plains." As an invited contributor to this issue, I have decided to write from my personal knowledge and experiences as the former director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University from July 1994 through July 1998. It was during this time that I worked closely with a number of midwestern scholars to promote the most extensive studies and reports on Latinos of the heartland, including the Great Plains. At JSRI, we were able to produce four regional conferences (immigration and Latino communities, the histories of Latino Voices, the state of the art of Latino social science, and Latino psychology). We also generated more than 140 reports and placed them (full text) on the JSRI website: . I believe that this body of knowledge provides a useful benchmark for information on Latinos of the Great Plains but still leaves more questions than answers on the Latino presence and experience.
In this essay I write generally of the history, demographics, and social issues of Great Plains Latinos. I welcome more study and research on this expanding population. The population is too important and valuable to ignore in our work.