At the end of the day we are all immigrants

The average American needs to come to terms with one simple truth: We are all immigrants. And unless you have Native American ancestry, technically, you don’t belong here either.

Our media has been dominated lately by messages speaking out against illegal immigration into this country. Would-be Presidential candidate Donald Trump has certainly made a name for himself by speaking out against those who he believes to be a thorn in the proverbial side of the United States: illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America. Here’s one minor tidbit of information that Trump, as well as Trump supporters, should remember: We weren’t here first.

Native Americans, or American Natives, whichever you prefer, lived here for centuries before European immigrants stumbled upon this continent. There were numerous tribes living throughout this country and we were the ones who destroyed their way of life. Were we invited? Did we pass their tests to live in their land? Obviously not. But this is a point of view that is oftentimes forgotten by hate-mongers such as Trump.

California itself was once part of Mexico. The majority of college students should know this since since it is part of California and United States history, but here’s a refresher: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signaled the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. This treaty ceded the territories that would eventually become California to the United States. Therefore, the men and women who identify as Mexican Americans, or Chicanos, honestly have a deeper cultural connection to this state than many of us do.

In 2013, well before this latest batch of anti-immigrant hate began to flow, a Native American man was filmed single-handedly dispersing a group of anti-immigrant protesters. The man in question could be heard yelling “We didn’t invite none of you here. We’re the only Native Americans here.” He’s right, 100 percent, spot-on correct, and none of us seem to want to own up to this fact. The immigrants who “founded” this country never asked for permission to be here, they just showed up and set their roots, displacing anyone and everyone who got in their way as they pushed westward to manifest their supposed destiny.

The term Native American is actually a broad one. The literal breakdown of the term refers to anyone who lived in the Americas, which could be considered both North and South America, before the landing of Christopher Columbus. Mexico is part of the North American landmass;therefore, it stands to reason that Mexicans are Native Americans. There is an obvious, deep cultural difference between residents of pre-Columbus Mexico and pre-Columbus New England, but that doesn’t change the fact that both groups were native to this country before European colonization.

So the next time you feel the need to climb up onto your proverbial soap box to speak out against an immigrant, be they “legal” or “illegal,” take the time to recognize that you yourself are, in fact, an immigrant. We are a country of immigrants. It is one of the things that makes America the cultural melting pot that is is. It is something to be proud of. But there were cultures here well before Europeans arrived.