It would be easy now to pile on the Catholic Church—especially its hierarchy. The Vatican’s recent “repudiation” of the Doctrine of Discovery has been followed by the Maryland Attorney General’s announcement of “staggering sexual abuse” by church officials in his state. The Associated Press reported that “More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability.” The documented abuse occurred over a span of 80 years, and was accompanied by decades of coverups. More money was spent on treatment and rehabilitation of perpetrators than on that of victims. And the Attorney General said that similar studies were addressing abuse in other dioceses.Read Rich’s Post →
In the new Smithsonian Magazine: “South to the Promised Land,” the “other” Underground Railroad, the one that went overland and across the Rio Grande to Mexico.
Mexico won its independence in 1821. And, fatefully, soon opened its doors to Anglo-American settlers in the northern frontier state of Texas. Some mixed American families—Whites who had freed and sometimes married their slaves—came to the remote lands to ranch, and became stops on that railroad. But most of the new settlers brought slaves, which resulted in confrontations with the Mexican government. In 1824, Mexico banned the importation of slaves. Anglo settlers called for a revolution, and in 1836 won independence from Mexico and wrote slavery into its constitution. The Alamo wasn’t all about freedom, especially for slaves and former slaves.Read Rich’s Post →
|Standing Rock Protest|
The Standing Rock Sioux and representatives from 280 North American Indian tribes, joined by Natives from Ecuador and Hawaii, have taken a stand in the Dakotas against oil companies and for water. Water, I imagine, will be increasingly in the news, and Indians will be the ones bringing it to our attention.
In the New York Times this week we learn that a small tribe in northern California, the Winnemem Wintu, are telling the residents of Weed, California, the officials of Roseburg Forest Products, and Ronan Papillaud, the president of CG Roxane, which owns Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring together with a Japanese pharmaceutical company, that the waters of Mt. Shasta are not limitless, that it is time to listen to the Mountain. According to tribal members, the spring on Mt. Shasta from which animals and humankind first emerged, and which oral tradition says has never failed, dried up six years ago.
For over 100 years, the city of Weed, which sits in the foothills of the Mountain, has got its water from Beaughan Spring. For the past 50 years, it has been charged $1 a year by Roseburg Forest Products and its predecessor, International Paper. Roseburg, an Oregon-based company that owns the pine forest where the spring sits, is charging the city $97,500 this year! And, according to Ellen Porter, the director of environmental affairs for Roseburg: “The city needs to actively look for another source of water.”
|Weed water protest|
The people of Weed, who have been dependent on the timber company for jobs and sustenance for all
that time, and who are still rebuilding after a major wildfire two years ago, say they have a document showing that previous owner International Paper handed over water rights to the city in 1982. Roseburg, having upped the ante to $97,000 and not flinching, has offered Weed another well-site on company ground. The catch: the site is a few hundred yards from a former wood treatment plant that is now a Superfund site.
The good neighbor policy is apparently at an end, overtaken by the short-term profit motive. Roseburg has recently been selling some of the water from Weed’s spring to Crystal Geyser, and Japan apparently wants more of its bottled water. Papillaud came to town to tell them that he needs more water, and in the course of his visit erupted in a tirade that caused his son to come back later with apologies. But he still wants the water.
“We do not belong in this story,” Mr. Papillaud said. “We are not depriving anyone of anything.” Mr. Papillaud described his deal with Roseburg as a simple relationship between a buyer and seller. “Is this blood water? Are they involved in child labor?… We are clients, end of story.”
Sacramento has an eye on Nestle, and other nearby cities and county governments are dealing with bottled water companies are watching carefully. Is water a commodity to be bought and sold? Or is water, as tribal people remind us continually, a fundamental principle of all life, one to be nurtured, watched out for, and shared by all?
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|Only Louisiana Purchase & Alaska were larger additions|
Earlier this week, a Library visitor talked about her “roots”: specifically about a grandmother who was Apache and Mexican. At this point her proud, and very non-Indian or Mexican looking husband chimed in: “Mexican from when Colorado was part of Mexico.”
I grew up, at least partially, in Southern California, close to the San Luis Rey Mission and the Pala Indian Reservation. In 2010, at my fiftieth high school, I learned that some of the Mexicans I went to school with were Indians, or of mixed Indian and Mexican ancestry. I learned too that at least one blonde, crew-cut haired white guy was an Indian too. When I said that I was surprised to learn that he was Indian, he said that he’d been told by family not to talk about it at the time, but that he had years of photos, regalia and artifacts, and the next time I was in California he’d show it all to me.
If you were Indian growing up in Southern California in the 1940s and 50s, it was easier to be Mexican—if you were dark skinned, or Anglo, if you could “pass” as white. My Monday visitor nodded her head as I told my story, although she did say that her grandmother quietly taught things about herbs and customs. She also said that the Mexican side of the family was firm about their pre-U.S. roots in what we now know as the American Southwest.
That’s a fascinating story. Her corner of Colorado was part of a large chunk of the United States ceded by Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. The machinations that went into this huge land takeover—present-day U.S. states of California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, about a quarter of Colorado, and a small section of Wyoming—were complex, because the Republic of Texas and the US accession of Texas was also part of the mix.
|Notice where Mexico is in 1846
US wanted border at 54-40
Britain wanted border at Columbia
So the Southwest joined the Northwestern US as areas where our government engaged with another government—Great Britain and the “joint occupancy” of the Oregon Country in the NW; the US and Mexico in the Southwest—in determining the future of land primarily and for millennia actually occupied by indigenous tribal people, Indians. And the two are tied together. President Polk, despite objections of more expansionist fellow Democrats, concluded the NW question with the 1846 Oregon
Treaty (at the 49th parallel, and not at “54 40 or fight”) as we were going to war with Mexico. The huge land accessions of Hidalgo—third largest in our history—came at war’s conclusion in 1848.
The Northwest is less complicated in one way; Indians were far and away the major occupants of the disputed lands in 1818, when Great Britain and the US agreed to joint occupancy (for 10 years, which became almost 30) and, in a sense threw the matter of ultimate jurisdiction into a race for white settlement.
The Indians were of course the earlier inhabitants of the Southwest as well, but Europeans, primarily of Spanish descent, were well into their takeover of the region in the 1840s. Mexicans—Mestizo descendants of Europeans and Indians—were the major occupants of the territory at cession in 1840. There were still Indian tribal people of course, and Indian raids on border settlements were part of the treaty talks—again another story!
I could find no firm population numbers, but did learn that the populations of California and Texas were small while New Mexico was a robust 40,000 in the 1820s. And I saw one estimate of 80,000 for the newly acquired territory in 1848, and a claim that 90 percent of them had chosen to stay in the new United States rather than relocate to what was left of Mexico. Throw in additional lands in New Mexico and Arizona gained peaceably through the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, and there must have been close to 100,000 Mexicans in the newly configured US on the eve of our Civil War.
Fast forward to now, and to intermarriages with Bracero workers who were recruited to the US during WW II, and others who came through various legal immigrant worker programs, and there are many Mexicans—millions certainly—who were “here” before most of the rest of us. (Most African-Americans too can claim older US roots, but that is a different story.)
Which makes ironic most nativist rants about sealing borders. This might be the bigger story: moving borders, as described in accompanying maps, did as much to determine the current makeup of the United States as has the long history of immigration legislation, legislation that has alternately encouraged and discouraged immigrants by country of origin, color and race with the economic needs and the political sentiments of the day.
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