ethel’s words

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IMMIGRANT: NEW DEFINITION

A while back, Harvard Magazine had a cover portrait of a Native American (that is a wide term) child, labeled “New Immigrant”. It was a new definition of “immigrant”: a resident of Yankee United States of America whose ancestors gathered, hunted, and tilled the soil of the Western Hemisphere before the incursion of Northern Europeans.

The physiognomy was likely, by any educated guess, Native to The Americas. The label was the result of Anglo European Eastern Yankee American ethnocentricity: the perception of persons who think Columbus CREATED the Western Hemisphere.

But Yankee word-smithing cannot wipe out reality. Calling descendants of Native Americans “immigrants” shows a stunning lack of knowledge, or, hoping not, a desire to obliterate history and its implications. (The Western Hemisphere hosts hundreds of languages, as many of them indigenous, probably, as “imported”.)

A reality that needs to be emphasized is that a huge chunk of
southwest USA, including what is now called “Utah”, was Mexico until a rather one-sided “war” enabled the Yankees to draw lines on maps and rip off from Mexico the riches of California and other western states.

The land-grab by the Yankees was sealed with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, hiding the nature of the conquest. (“Conquest” does not mean “vanquished”.) That Treaty included protections for the indigenous peoples--but like most, was not simply broken, it was smashed.

Nevertheless, the descendants of original Americans, have to “legitimize” their participation in Yankee-American society.

When demonstrators carry signs that say “Today we march, tomorrow we vote” it shows how American they really are--struggling to achieve our cherished privilege--removing barriers to their right to vote.

Ethel C. Hale