Immigration through the eyes of others
How long youve lived somewhere is one of the measures some people use to judge others.But all that presumption goes right out the window when you meet someone whos not only been born and raised in one place, but whose family has based itself in the same area since, well, pretty much the dawn of man.I met such a person last week. Cameron is a 23-year-old with sleek black hair tied up in a ponytail. He speaks quietly, with conviction.Cameron is a Pueblo Native American. He and his family live at Taos Pueblo. Just down the road from Taos, N.M., the Pueblo is acknowledged as the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States, dating back in recorded time to 1100 A.D. The village structures are all made of adobe bricks and plastered with adobe. Scruffy dogs wander around the pueblo, while villagers go about their daily lives. Theres no electricity or running water within the sacred village, though Blue Lake Creek runs through the village and is so pure and uncontaminated Cameron can fill his water bottle and drink straight from it. Cameron and his people fish and hunt year-round on the more than 100,000 acres of Blue Lake Wilderness, a drop-dead-breathtaking area of high desert leading to deep forests, rivers and trees thats off-limits to non-natives. The tribal government has slowly been buying back land private ranches to add to its reservation, while pseudo-adobe housing developments, and Wal-Marts spring up outside the boundaries. Going to a place like Taos Pueblo and meeting Cameron has put a lot into perspective for me. We newspaper people write about the impacts of immigrants moving into the Colorado River Valley. Here, people drive around in trucks with bumper stickers proclaiming, Learn the language or leave. Meanwhile, Cameron and his people have watched as others have infiltrated their homeland, first bringing all sorts of languages first Spanish and later, English to northern New Mexico. Their native language, Tiwa, has endured all these years and is spoken among villagers. Cameron is steadfast and wise beyond his years. Hes not bitter, even though he recited a poem he wrote rap-style, full of expletives and anger, about the plight of the Native American. Once great warriors, Cameron raps, some native men are reduced today to slurry drunks.Cameron chooses not to go that route. Instead, he just returned from the University of Hawaii where he studied American history and surfed. Now, he gives talks to people who want to know and understand his culture. He wants to get his doctorate, and teach people his own people and others about the past, in order to respect the present. Theres a lot to learn from a person like Cameron. Carrie Click is the editor of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle, and the western Garfield County bureau editor of the Post Independent. Her column appears on Tuesdays. Carrie can be reached at email@example.com, 625-3245, ext. 101.
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