Thursday, February 25, 2016

Indios and Immigration

Indios and Immigration

Somewhere at at 4 or 5 in 1959 or 1960, my grandmother Lois took my brother Mark and I to visit the trading post run by Charles "Charlie" Eagle Plume, who ran a trading post between Estes Park and Allen Park, near Long's peak in Colorado.

We were deeply impressed. To two boys who were raised on Western Movies and Western TV shows, meeting a real live Indian was beyond compare. He was kind, and spoke to us without speaking down to us. As we walked through the store he showed us various artifacts. He answered all our questions about Indians. It was the beginning of a realization in me that perhaps the cowboys and the settlers might not have always been the good guys.

There is a great debate about immigration in our country, and great anxiety about people from Mexico coming to the U.S.  But one of the things that rarely gets mentioned or talked about is the undeniable fact that huge numbers of people from Mexico are genetically part Native American.
In part because of our Judeo-Christian heritage, we of mostly European descent, act as though we are descendants of a kind of New World Israelite. We descend from our heroic ancestors who drove out our enemies, (and God's enemies),from our promised land. We usually think of those enemies as the British, but forget that many more Native people were killed as we invaded this land.
I am not sure God sees that conquest in quite as heroic a light.
We think of the early white pioneers as the original Americans. My grandmother could trace her ancestry back to William Ripley who immigrated to Massachusetts in 1638. She was proud of that heritage, but always reminded us that we did take the land from the Native peoples.

We likewise think the people coming here across the Southern Border are invaders. But it could be argued that many of the folks coming North from Mexico and other parts of the Americas are simply coming back to lands their ancestors lived in. If we gave out visas by genetic tests, most of those invaders are far more "American" than those of us who only go back 500 years or so. Just a few hours from where I type this, is Seminole Canyon, which was continually inhabited for at least 9,000 years, and only abandoned due to the wars we waged on the Indians. Many of their descendants live on both sides of the Rio Grande. We call them Mexican or Mexican American, and so they are. But they are also part Native People.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln speculated that the bloodshed of the Civil War was in part, Divine Judgement for the sin of slavery.

I have often wondered what form Divine Judgment for the acts of conquest and genocide of the Native Peoples of the Americas takes. Perhaps we are looking at part of it now. Perhaps the immigration of other Americans, whose genetic heritage is closer to the original inhabitants is God giving back part of what was taken by force.
In all the debate about immigration we should be careful to judge, and we should seek God's perspective first.

1 comment:

  1. I agree BIGTIME! Being part Cherokee(somewhere between 1/16 and 1/32) I've always felt hurt when other Christians go on about America as if it was a new Israel and ignoring what was done to the First Nations people of this land. I have wondered the exact same thing about the immigration of people from Mexico as part of Divine judgement..for the genocide and stealing of the land..also the abusive boarding schools, too. I met an Apache guy one time at a small church in Mountain View, Arkansas..he was exactly my age..and spent his childhood in a Catholic boarding school..where he was forbiddened to speak His native language and taught to look down on his culture. I was shocked that it still went on, even down to my generation!
    By the way, I did a DNA test to find info about my Native DNA and was surprised to find the Native part of my DNA split in 3 parts! North American, Mesoamerican and South American!! Confirming oral stories among the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, etc that the ancestors immigrated from down in Mexico and Central America! There were stories of them leaving a place of volcanoes, etc! And apparently South Americans came to the southeast US too!