The cowboy—in the popular imagination, no figure is more central to American identity and the nation’s origin story. Yet the Americans and Europeans who settled the U.S. West learned virtually everything they knew from the indigenous and Mexican horsemen who already inhabited the region. The charro—a skilled, elite, and landowning horseman—was an especially powerful symbol of Mexican masculinity and nationalism. After 1930 in cities across the U.S. West, Mexican Americans embraced the figure as a way to challenge their segregation, exploitation, and marginalization in core narratives of American identity. In this definitive history, Laura Barraclough shows how Mexican Americans have used the charro in the service of civil rights, cultural citizenship, and place-making. Focusing on a range of U.S. cities, Charros traces the evolution of the “original cowboy” through mixed triumphs and hostile backlashes, revealing him to be a crucial agent in the production of U.S., Mexican, and border cultures, as well as a guiding force for Mexican American identity and social movements.