Sister Cities: Jackson Hole and Tlaxcala, Mexico
On December 20, 2021, the Jackson Town Council passed a resolution establishing a sister city relationship with (drumroll, please . . .) Tlaxcala, Mexico. To an outsider, the choice may seem like an odd one, but it’s actually a match made in cowboy heaven.
In the late 1980s, two men from Tlaxcala traveled north to pick potatoes near the Teton mountain range. Though they were the first Jacksonians from that region of Mexico, they were far from the last. Today, approximately 25% of the residents of Teton County are of Mexican descent. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the sister city relationship between Jackson and Tlaxcala and what brings them close together while still thousands of miles apart.
To quote from the resolution (read by Jackson Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson), “Tlaxcala and Jackson are directly linked by shared cultural heritage as many Tlaxcaltecas have moved to, worked in, and settled in Jackson over the last 30 years.” Not only that, but as Wyoming Public Media points out, “Wyoming is often the butt of the same joke nationwide: ‘Wyoming exists?’ The same is also true of Mexico’s smallest state, Tlaxcala.” That’s just the beginning of the similarities Tlaxcala and Wyoming share: a cowboy (or vaquero) culture, snowcapped peaks, and plenty of dry terrain.
What does being “sister cities” mean, exactly? If you’ve seen the Parks and Recreation episode “Sister City,” it’s a bit like that, minus the bribery and tactics to shame and humiliate the other city. Per SisterCities International, “a sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries.” Point of interest: Since 1965, Jackson has also had a sister city relationship with Lienz, Austria.
Basically, sister cities share a cool relationship that can promote business, trade, educational, cultural, or other projects that are important to them. In early summer 2022, a group of students from Jackson Hole High School went on an ambassador trip to Tlaxcala to further foster the relationship. This was especially meaningful since many students can trace their heritage to the city and region. Students said that they spotted many cars and trucks with Wyoming license plates, Jackson Hole t-shirts, and even homes designed in the “new West” style. Jackson Hole High School plans to receive a delegation of Tlaxcalan students in May of 2023.
Here are five quick facts about Jackson Hole’s newest sister city, Tlaxcala (and the state that shares its name):
- Tlaxcala (pronounced like this) is Mexico’s smallest state with an area of approximately 1,543 square miles and a 2020 population of 1.343 million people. (Compare that to the 2020 population of Mexico City, which was 9.29 million alone.) The population of the city of Tlaxcala itself (as of 2018) is 84,000.
- The official language of Tlaxcala is Tlaxcala-Puebla Nahuatl, also known as Central Nahuatl, closely related to the ancient tongue spoken by the Aztecs. It is spoken by roughly 40,000 people in central Mexico.
- The site of the “modern” city (it didn’t exist before the coming of the Europeans) was actually ruled by a confederation of four republics ruling over about 200 different settlements.
- The word Tlaxcala comes from the Nahuatl word Tlaxcalli, which means corn tortilla or corn bread: a staple in the inhabitants’ diet.
- The highest peak in the region is an extinct volcano called La Malinche.
This post was brought to you by Flat Creek Inn.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She occasionally travels (not as much as she’d like) and always eats.
AaLaNd Legram, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Buckrail, L. @. (2021, December 23). Tlaxcala, Mexico is officially Jackson’s sister city. https://buckrail.com/tlaxcala-mexico-is-officially-jacksons-sister-city/
Cohen, E. (2022, June 21). Jackson high school students visit Tlaxcala, Mexico, for inaugural exchange. Jackson Hole Community Radio. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from https://891khol.org/jackson-high-school-students-visit-tlaxcala-mexico-for-inaugural-exchange/
(n.d.). The Sister Cities: Jackson and Tlaxcala. Wyoming Public Media. https://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/community-calendar/event/the-sister-cities-jackson-and-tlaxcala-17-08-2022-14-42-28
Schmal, J. P. (2019, September 6). Indigenous Puebla: Land of the Náhuatl Speakers. Indigenous Mexico. https://indigenousmexico.org/tlaxcala/indigenous-puebla-land-of-the-nahuatl-speakers/
History.com Editors (2018, August 21). Tlaxcala. History. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/tlaxcala
(n.d.). What is a Sister City? SisterCities International. https://sistercities.org/about-us/what-is-a-sister-city-3/