A colonia was literally a colony of Mexican Americans, a Hispanic community founded close to the farms, mines, or railroads where the immigrants worked.
A colonia of boxcars and shacks would spring up every so often along the tracks that Mexican Americans were laying down. These settlements became the basis for some modern communities of Mexican Americans.
Barrio is a Spanish word meaning neighborhood. Colonia means colony in Spanish. They are neighborhoods in Mexican cities, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation.
Mutualistas, mutual aid societies, took shape in Mexican American communities early in the century. Members pooled their resources to offer loans, temporary housing, and employment assistance for Mexican immigrants in need of help.
They also sponsored dances and other social events.