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The development of the vaquero, as he appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West performances and other shows, mirrors the experiences of Mexicans and Mexican-descent people in the United States at the end of the nineteenth-century and the beginning of the twentieth century. This thesis explores and analyzes the history of the vaquero in the Wild West show through an analysis of the principal performers and their experiences. Chapter one explores the history of the Wild West show with an emphasis on the vaqueros. This chapter will also explore the origins of the vaqueros. Chapter two explores how the Wild West show incorporated American Imperialism. This chapter is centered on the ways in which news media, periodicals, and live entertainment integrated representations of US military strength and masculinity in the 1890s and in the years immediately following the Spanish American War. Chapter three explores the daily life of vaqueros in Wild West shows. This chapter focuses on specific celebrity vaqueros and also considers the lesser-known Mexican showmen to demonstrate the ways in which vaqueros were viewed as racial others in comparison to the American cowboy.
Adviser: James A. Garza