Ethnicity/Immigrant Experience class blog #2

Native Americans Used to Call it “white people.”

Facebook is a funny way to make huge statements.  When my friends join groups like “I bet I can get 1,000,000 to ______” I almost always wince.  A real life friend got me thinking about how these sorts of things are really effective for advertisers to mine huge groups of people, which is kind of creepy.

However, sometimes my friends “like” a statement that tickles me.  One interesting statement lately is “Illegal immigration is not a new problem, Native Americans used to call it ‘White People’.”  This is kind of clever.  I love the kind of thinking that this idea can get us doing and maybe even good discussion.  It immediately reminded me of the t-shirts worn of the Gary Ballard design featuring a picture of great Chiricahua Apache leader Geronimo and company in 1886 with the caption “Homeland Security-Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.”

Geronimo!

I have a problem with the statement about so-called white people causing an immigration problem with the Natives.  I think the Europeans indeed caused problems, but they were not immigrants for a long time.  Groundwork was laid to come and to dominate, not to integrate, with a few notable exceptions such as the Roanoke Colony in Virginia (now North Carolina).  Immigration started when Europeans had effectively controlled enough natural resources and developed a common identity away from their countries of origin.  By that point in time, most Native Americans didn’t have a ton of input into the process.

It is wise for us when thinking about immigration in the United States to keep in our frontal lobes some people movements in the past 500 years rather than the past few decades.

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