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View Diary: The Original Illegal Immigrants (29 comments)

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  •  Except for, well... (5+ / 0-)

    ...a couple of important things.

    One, this is living memory, the edges of it, and even when it passes out of living memory, there are generational scars that take a long, long time to heal.  I grew up in the northwest corner of the nation where native americans were treated and spoken about as badly as any outgroup I've read about anywhere.  We -- us, our generation, our parents and our parents' parents -- got rich, directly and indirectly, by taking things from these people's parents and grandparents.  As a result, native folks alive today do not have fair access to education, to work, to housing, or to the civic conversation.  Looking at history as being a process and largely beyond moral lamentations has value, but saying that it is long and changing and therefore has no impact on our current morality, choices, and social structure is at least as pernicious, if not more so, than a simplistic moral reading.  Never mind the "condemned to repeat it" aphorisms, understanding what our families did and how our neighbors' families have survived is vital to understanding who we are.

    And two -- all social justice issues aside -- I spent part of last Spring looking at lowland prairie in the Puget Sound region.  For ten thousand years, the people who lived here essentially managed that ecosystem with fire and hunting practices which kept it sustainable.  That doesn't make them "noble" but it makes them a crapload smarter than we have been since, and is worthy of notice.  It is possible to find a dynamic equilibrium with your environment.  Maybe it took them a thousand years to figure it out (who knows?) but they did.  We don't have a thousand years, so perhaps it would be good to look to prior working examples -- if not for direct emulation, then for proof that our species can do better than pine beetles.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:37:21 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  To take your last point first, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical

      it might be that Native Americans were able to manage their ecosystem sustainably because there were so few of them. I can't imagine the populations of Seattle or Portland flourishing from fishing and whaling like the tribes of the Pacific northwest.
      For my part, my people came here in the early 20th Century; southern Slavs, cheap immigrant labor for the mining interests. Alas, we never grew rich at all.
      History has lessons for sure and I do what little I can to limit further depredations by "my" government and the plutocrats who control it. It's just that, although I live in Arizona, I have trouble mustering any authentic guilt for taking land once claimed by Mexico.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:12:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sure, numbers may be... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Azazello, mithra, cotterperson

        ...a lot of the game.  But at least it can be done.  Can we do it at our numbers?  Don't know.  Maybe, even probably not.  But considering how the prairie was managed gives me a similar feeling, when standing in it, to looking at old Roman ruins.  That fire management regime was one hella human accomplishment, a kind of engineering.  We're just stepping into technologies that might work at scale, and they will work very differently.  But as we live on the earth like crazed parasites, I think there's a very present lesson that  sustainable systems can be maintained over something approaching deep time, by people like us.  This is good to know :}

        I don't myself feel guilt about history -- it is what it is, and my ancestors were both doing what they had to do and right bastards, some of them.  But I do feel like white folks definitely get a way better break than indigenous people do, hereabouts.   The worst prejudice I saw as a child against Lummi kids was often from people who didn't have much themselves.  And the Lummi are not random opportunists as portrayed by the right ("why can't they just be Americans like the rest of us"), they are a tribe that works hard to give the next generation better, with an old and continuous sense of place.   Perhaps as a result of all that I'm very much for things which help out the tribes, in addition to generally being against the plutocrats.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:47:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  NOt really. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Azazello

        The Native Americans weren't able to manage their eco-systems. The Anasazi turned the southwest into a desert, and the classic Maya destroyed much of Central America and their civilization with it.

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