Real Americans: who is one and who’s not?

Posted by Tom Camfield

We U. S. citizens collectively are not the only “Americans” on the block. We’ve appropriated exclusive use of that name ever since the Revolution. First off, Canadians are “Americans” just as we and they are fellow North Americans. Mexicans are “Americans” but are Central Americans. Peruvians are “Americans” but South Americans. My late Canadian uncle likely called us here in the States “Yanks” near as I can recall. Mexicans used to refer to us as “Gringoes.” They undoubtedly call us a lot of things in both countries these days during the Trump administration. And rightly so. But I like to think that under it all, at the grass roots, they remain friendly neighbors who suffer along with us during this period of societal distress.

So when someone asks me who’s a real American my thoughts don’t go to merely someone who’s been empowered to vote as compared to a young DACA Latino, e.g. a young Mexican brought here by illegal immigrant parents, some of them now in their later 20s and having lived here for more than 10 years. If Donald Trump had his druthers, they’d be deported. I continue NOT being a “We’ve got all this and you can’t have any” type of individual. I think the DACA “Dreamers” are now a type of fellow American who should be allowed to seek official citizenship without having to pass a racial-profiling test. When my mind puts on its shoes in the morning, one of them often is Canadian or Mexican.

I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that Trump’s family on this continent began in 1885 when his grandfather emigrated from Bavaria. Chief Joseph of interior Northwest fame, in the late 1870s, valiantly led his people back when they were still being treated like inconvenient pests by the conquering whites who attempted to move them onto an insignificant reservation. The terms of his surrender were not fulfilled by the U.S. He died in 1904 and is revered by history for his principled support of his people. His is an icon of the Indian Wars well-deserving of an honorable place in history. He was descended from ancestors who first occupied the current United States thousands of years (millennia) ago.

Research over many years has determined that this continent’s first inhabitants crossed a Bering Sea land bridge, some time late in the Ice Age, from Siberia to Alaska, between 12,000 to 25,000 years ago. That’s something that can’t even be envisioned by those who insist with simple-minded ignorance, that earth history began 6,000 years ago. These early humans’ descendants by 1000 BC had occupied the entire continent of North America.

So, the really true Americans at this point are—by inheritance of lands that have gradually been wrested away close to entirely by invading whites—tribal descendants now exemplified locally by citizens of S’Klallam blood living in the Blyn area, Makahs at Neah Bay, etc. The S’Klallams, the extinct Chimakums, any remaining Quilcenes, the Snohomish, the Quilleutes, Skokomsh, etc., of Northwest Washington all were just plain pushed away onto reservations by white settlement beginning in 1851. Local history generally gives all of them short shrift.

This was their land. They were the original Americans, and their descendants are the true Americans.

But wait! There’s more. The Spanish, much maligned by our current presidential administration and it’s single-browed, slack-jawed white-supremacy base support, moved in on the Native Americans before we high-fiving white guys came along.

Vancouver, who sailed in and was given a degree of undue credit as an earliest explorer, definitely was not the first on the scene to strike awe in our local Northwest natives. The Spanish have a longer history than whites in these United States. Explorers from Mexico sailed the Pacific Coast as far north as Alaska in earlier times, and a Spanish settlement, rather lost in history these days, was established at Neah Bay. Port Townsend is situated on Quimper Peninsula, named after one such early explorer.

Near as I can tell from a quick restudy of area history, that Quimper is identified here: “On 3 February 1790, a Spanish expedition sailed north from San Blas under the command of Ship Lieutenant Francisco de Eliza, the most senior officer available at San Blas. It included Ship Lieutenant Salvador Fidalgo, and Ship Ensign Manuel Quimper.” it traversed the Strait of Juan de Fuca, etc. Subsequently, Vancouver entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca on 29 April 1792.

Whatever . . . The Spanish claim to territories that are today the United States rested upon the 16th century exploits of Ponce de Leon, Hernando De Soto, and Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. St. Augustine in Florida was established as a Spanish fort 483 years ago, in 1565, the first permanent settlement in what would become the United States.“Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean and continuing control of vast territory for over three centuries, the Spanish Empire would expand across the Caribbean Islands, half of South America, most of Central America and much of North America (including present day Mexico, Florida and the Southwestern and Pacific Coastal regions of the United States). It is estimated that during the colonial period (1492–1832), a total of 1.86 million Spaniards settled in the Americas.”  Which is why we have place names such as San Antonio, San Louis Obispo, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles. it was after the Mexican War that Mexico ceded to the U. S. in 1848, minus Texan claims, 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.

I know from why own study of family history that my wife’s  great, great, great grandfather Westall took his family and slaves from Tennessee to Texas in 1824 as part of the Stephen Austin colony that had the approval of the Mexican government. He established a cotton plantation on the Brazos River. In 1832, somewhat before the actual War with Mexico, he and his sons took part in a battle that overthrew the Mexicans at Fort Velasco. That battle was instigated by heavy shipping duties on the cotton crop of Westall and others. 

The arrival of Blacks— https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery says: “Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and African slaves helped build the new nation into an economic powerhouse through the production of lucrative crops such as tobacco and cotton. By the mid-19th century, America’s westward expansion and the abolition movement provoked a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody Civil War. Though the Union victory freed the nation’s four million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American history, from the Reconstruction era to the civil rights movement that emerged a century after emancipation . . .”

Numerous sources say: “Slavery in America started in 1619, when a Dutch ship brought 20 African slaves ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia.” However, a story disagreeing with that last bit is found at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/misguided-focus-1619-beginning-slavery-us-damages-our-understanding-american-history-180964873/

Whatever the details, racism and inequality of various sorts today are just a watered down form of slavery. And in denying this, please don’t try to cite “advances” made by “coloreds.” Blacks are still riding in the back seat of our society.

So whites finally crept in with the ill-fated Jamestown Colony in 1607 and the Mayflower’s arrival in Plymouth in 1620. And so what what do we have today? White supremacy in both high and low places—along with lesser degrees of racism throughout the country.

So I do gag a little when I see/hear some self-important racist popinjay like Donald Trump telling a United Nations assembly about what America demands, by his way of thinking, and what the rest of the world should have. 

When Donald speaks of “we” this and “we” that, the “we” is not synonymous with “the American people;” it is more of an “I” in disguise.

TODAY’S RELATED ADDENDUM—I find it impossible to let Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations pass by without comment. His address was a simplistic appeal to ignorance, fortified with fear and adorned with narcissism. 

There were diplomats from 193 countries in attendance, and he neither impressed nor frightened some of them. “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” Trump proclaimed. And there was laughter from portions of his audience.

“The United States is a stronger, safer and a richer country than when I assumed office less than two years ago,” he said. “We are standing up for America and for the American people, and we are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and peace-loving people everywhere.” That inspirational-sounding phrase by his speech-writers evoked feelings much darker than laughter among the many among us who have witnessed Deranged Donald’s disdain for the world at large, along with his assault on morality and dignity among average Americans.

As I predicted two or three blogs ago, Donald also has become intrigued with the word “sovereignty.” He used it frequently—as in railing against “world sovereignty” and championing a goal of “American sovereignty.” Ever sounding more and more like a “man who would be king.”

AS FOR KAVANAUGH and his quest for the Supreme Court I find it difficult to conceive of the U. S. Senate voting to hold the GOP to be of more importance than womanhood. Too bad the public has no vote on this and is at the mercy of such swamp-dwellers as Mitch McConnell. This is a time we could really use the presence of the recently-late John McCain.

The Nov. 6 mid-term election will indeed be time for us all to stand and be counted. I will definitely be voting to retain Senator Maria Cantwell over self-promotional Susan Hutchison. I wish I lived in the 8th Congressonal District so that I could vote against Dino Rossi, a smarmy Republcan who has been trying unsuccessfully for 18 years to force his way into high pubic office.

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