Where are the native Americans?
During this past week I have had a couple of conversations that have caused me to think about immigration. Since I have become friends with so many Burmese, my views on this issue have changed. When Frosintina asked me “Where are the native Americans?” (their family had been discussing it), I told her about having lived in Oklahoma with Indian reservations nearby. We talked about casinos and cigarettes, about how many native Americans have inter-married and live in cities throughout the United States. The conversation also turned to the subject of immigration. We talked about how the native Americans helped the first émigrés to our country. They taught them to garden and how to survive the harsh winters. I told them that my family had immigrated from Europe. On my father’s side there was Irish and my mother’s side was English and even some French. Kay’s family immigrated from Germany. In fact Kay is a 3rd generation German.
Then yesterday I was talking with a Eh K’lu and Ywa Hay Thar about migrant workers that help harvest the tobacco grown near my house. We talked about the United States border with Mexico and how most of it is divided by little to no fence. I told them about how some of our U.S. citizens have negative views about all émigrés, others want immigrants to come in through legal channels, like our Burmese refugees, instead of sneaking over the border.
Upon reflection of this mindset I realize some of the negative and strident views I held on this issue in the past are so short sighted. What about the fact that some of my mother’s relatives came across on the Mayflower and were indeed helped by the then hosts of this country, our native Americans?
I have visited church buildings in Baltimore where one section was for the Irish, another of the same building was for the Italian. I am sure people during those waves of immigration dealt with issues of language, job displacement and swelling social and physical needs. However our country and more important our God have been able to expand and accommodate those who have arrived on our shores. In fact many of our relatives came to America because in their previous home, like our Burmese, they were persecuted for their faith.