We’re not a nation of immigrants. We say we are and may even think we are, but what we really are is a nation of Native Americans. By that, I mean that the vast majority of people that live here were born here and that qualifies you as a Native. This is the only home we know and while we may or may not be proud of it, it’s where we grew up, where we have children and live out our lives. We’re also all vested in its well-being. This is not to disrespect or diminish that group of people that we usually refer to when identifying Native Americans, but they, just like the rest of us originated somewhere else. Calling one group Natives and another immigrants or ancestors of immigrants is a misnomer. Timelines for the two may differ but the circumstances are the same. Even when we describe our ancestors as immigrants, we’re basically talking about only two people, a male, and a female. All subsequent issues from those two would qualify as Native Americans regardless of how many or how few generations your family has been here. Maybe we could call the one group the first Native Americans, but that would confer status to generational longevity. If we do that it would imply that descendants from the Pilgrims were more special than first-generation Americans, and I don’t think we want to do that. As human beings, we do like to differentiate ourselves from others by various criteria. What sports teams we root for, where we live, and by region of most recent origin. We call ourselves Irish American, Hispanic American, Italian American, African American, or describe ourselves by numerous other geographical identifiers. The only one of those descriptors that are somewhat accurate is the African American appellation. According to numerous Anthropological researchers, Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated northwards to Europe and all points beyond. They may have stayed for a while in various parts of the world prior to immigrating to what we call the new world, but we all have common ancestry dating back to Africa. If nothing else, we have been prolific. It would probably cause quite a stir and appear disrespectful if we all referred to ourselves as African Americans or Native Americans, so maybe we should settle on just being Americans.

Jimmy Wike

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