American Indians, American Spaniards, and the rest.

 

Sandy Point State Park is an idyllic place. The land squeezes into the Chesapeake where the Bay Bridge graciously spans the water. A beautiful beach meets the water. Behind the beach are large spaces for field games, grills for cooking out and picnics. A concession building provides beach-goers with snacks, cooking out and beach sundries, and various products to make a day trip to the beach more pleasant.

It is early on a blustery day, yet there are already a couple of hundred people enjoying the park. They fly kites, play football, even bath despite the somewhat chilly August morning. Squeals of delight from small children playing is carried on the winds from all directions. The scent of breakfast is in the air around the grills. There is even a group at the water's edge performing Baptisms and singing.

It is an all-American scene in Annapolis, Maryland, home of the U.S. Naval Academy. The only surprising observation that could be made is that my wife and I are the only ones there not speaking Spanish. I can only smile at the thought that Hispanic immigrants, possibly some legal, some not, seemed to monopolize American family values on this Saturday morning with their multi-generational gatherings at a beautiful beach. I could hear my Tea Party neighbor's rhetoric that people arriving in "America" without proper permissions are "illegals" and should be deported. Yet the scene seemed so natural. Young and old celebrating life and enjoying the place and time.

I look at the faces of the people around me, visibly darker, usually smaller, with that slightly "native" look. The native look has the curved features and nose that one sees in Mexican and Hispanic stereotypes. It shares much in common with profiles one sees on Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico. I realize that the people around me are the product of over 500 years of interbreeding between the indigenous American Indians and their Spanish overloads. More than 100 years before the first successful British colony at Jamestown, the Spanish arrived in America, claimed it in the name of the King of Spain, and forcibly wrested any lands they wanted form the American Indians, raping and marrying as they went.

Not even the most virulent John Wayne fan would argue that North America was not forcibly taken from its American inhabitants by successive waves of immigrants, mostly from the British Isles. The French and Indian War was provoked, in part, by these immigrants when they repeatedly violated British agreements with the French and Indians west of the Appalachians. These mountains were the border between the British Colonies and the French and Indian lands westward. After a British Imperial army defeated the French, the plains westward were opened to unlimited expansion b immigrants, now from all of Europe. Of course, they were opposed by the American inhabitants. History records the slaughter that ensued.

In the early 1800's, this westward expansion encroached on what was then the United Mexican States. Mexico, seeking to populate its northern states, welcomed immigrants from the United States looking for new lands. To its own misfortune, it was unaware of the active debate in the United States over Manifest Destiny, a belief that the European immigrants, now citizens of the United States, had an obvious right to all North American lands between Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, no matter who might currently own them. The immigrants who populated Texas brought with them slavery, which was banned in Mexico. When the United Mexican States sought to enforce its laws, the Texans rebelled and sought to join the United States. After a vigorous debate in this country over the legitimacy of allowing this, Texas was admitted as a slave state to the U.S.. This provoked war with Mexico.

Of course, the United Mexican States lost their war with the United States. As war reparations for opposition of Texas' joining another country, Mexico ceded what is now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and a large swath of Colorado to the United States. Mexico lost half its land mass. Along with the land, went the original indigenous inhabitants, Indian and Spanish, that blood mix which we call Mexican. Their blood line went back through 350 years of inhabiting America.

Through most of my life, I have believed that nations have a moral right to protect their borders and control who enters. Recent thoughts of Mexican heritage have me re-thinking my assumptions. I cannot believe that any White Man has the moral right to restrict the movements of the original Americans, particularly as they migrate towards the hope of better lives. In my mind, it matters little if their blood line is tainted with that of the first immigrants to America.

05/03 Update

At work, I overheard some conservative contractors talking about the immigration issues the United States is facing. One was from Texas. I heard phrases like "If they want to come to America and be Americans, they have to respect our laws." The irony struck me immediately. The majority of Mexicans are 30% to 60% American Indian. Significant minorities in Central America are still monolinguals speaking dialects of the languages of the original American inhabitants. The self-desigated Americans of European descent came to Texas on invitation by the Mexican federal government to settle. They subsequently began to ignore federal authority, with respect to slavery in particular. Mexico banned this pratice long before the United States. When the Mexican federal government attempted to enforce its laws, the Texan settlers became what we now like to call illegals and rebelled against the authority of the country to which they immigrated. 150 years later, the descendants of these illegals are calling the descendants of the original inhabitants illegal because they cross a border that their ancestors pre-date. This was a border imposed by force. Most ironically, these decendants of Europeans call themselves American and deny the term to the scions of the original people of the American land.