By: Ryne Meier, Sandbagger News
I am the descendant of immigrants, albeit legal ones, on both sides. In 1913, my maternal great-grandparents came over to this country, Germans from Russia to settle in North Dakota. My father’s family emigrated first from Europe to Brazil, and then finally up to North Dakota. Census records of my mother’s name show that 67% were farmers and the other 33% were laborers.
My grandfather tells this story: He worked one month for a nickel a day so he could get a pair of shoes. He was drafted into the Army at age 27 (his nickname back then was Grandpa) and served for two years. He came home and was a farmer the rest of his working career. Being the son of an immigrant meant many things. It meant he spoke two languages, Low German and English. He had his own jokes, culture, heritage, and food – oh, man, the food! My grandmother is a legend for her German baked goods.
My heritage makes North Dakota my home, but my current residence up here in the Mile High City of Denver, we can go back about 60 or 70 years before my family ever stepped foot in this country, and we can take another look at immigration.
A la Wikipedia, and you can check it out along with other heartbreaking stories of America’s founding in Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Cheyenne and Arapaho, as well as other tribes, were given most of Colorado, along with parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851. However, adventuresome Americans kept trekking onto the land. They found gold in them hills, you see. And well, ten years later, after the treasure-seeking Americans had trespassed all over Colorado, the Americans devised a new treaty. The new treaty made the Cheyenne and Arapaho give up two thirds of what they had.
The point is the White Man has been infiltrating borders for years. We made it all official with our government, and now we want to keep others out. But like my grandparents brought so much culture and music and beautiful things to this country, so do our southern brothers and sisters. I would not want to live in a world where there are no burritos, I tell you that.
Immigrants are people too – and we forget all too often that we are closely related to the “immigration” debate. America is the great melting pot! Before the Native Americans, we all came from Somewhere Else. We immigrated. We’re immigrants. Don’t be scared – it’s a beautiful thing.