Vaqueros: The First Cowboys of the Open Range
Cowboys make a Hollywood comeback in Kevin Costner's new movie, opening today. Open Range focuses on the struggle between free-grazers and landowners, spotlighting the West's original cowboys, the tough vaquero.
In the movie, the characters of Boss (Robert Duvall), Charley (Kevin Costner), Mose (Abraham Benrubi), and Button (Diego Luna) are "free-grazers" during a critical time in the history of the cowboy. In the backdrop of the movie, the Mexican cowboy, Button, represents the rarely recognized truth of how the West was really won.
One out of every three cowboys in the late 1800s was the Mexican vaquero, says Kendall Nelson, a photographer from Idaho whose recent book, Gathering Remnants: A Tribute to the Working Cowboy, showcases the few remaining cowboys of the West. Nelson is currently working on a documentary of the same title, capping an eight-year documentation of the last cowboys.
The story of Nelson's photos and Costner's Open Range really