ethel’s words

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MEXICAN HOSPITALITY AND MORMON HOSTILITY

When the Mormon Pioneer refugees, homeless but hopeful, set up camp at a spot in the middle of now-Salt-Lake-Valley, they could see, from that level valley floor, the whole expanse, mountain to mountain.

They had no need to fill out papers, prove they were born, nor to hide. They were on a far-flung edge of Mexico, in a rush-grown sweep of open space cut by many mountain-fed creeks. They could smell water. The valley was inhabited, but not policed.

Mexico, then as now, had some relaxed attitudes about peoples and cultures. Thus, not so terribly long after the Mormons came west, another group of Mormon refugees--polygamists--found freedom from persecution in Mexico.

That first Mormon camp in Mexico is now called Pioneer Park. It has, by accident and by chance, remained a refuge for the persecuted, the homeless, and the poor.

But, today, it is no refuge--there is no refuge--for Mexicans in Yankee-America-Utah-Salt Lake City. We might like to think that Yankee American spurning is related to the thrust of history and the “modernizing” of nations. But then, pondering the fact that Mexicans are one of the hundreds of indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere, all of whom were friendly and gentle until the crackling guns cut them down, until bounties were placed on their heads, until the push never stopped and in fact has not stopped to this day--it is time that the story of Mormons arriving in Mexico should be given appreciation.

Ethel C. Hale