Thursday, August 23, 2007

Generational Native

Did you know that any family that has been in the U.S. for more than five generations can trace their family back to the Mayflower? There is a lot of people reading this that owe us a debt of gratitude for breaking the way for them. So to heck with history, I’ll just talk about the feelings that I know a lot of us “Generational Natives” share.

To be honest, the most important thing to me is my sense of family, who I am, and where I came from. Just like my wife, my home is were my heart is. I am grateful that my heart is where I was born, and where I live, because the South Fork of the Eel is the only place that I ever want to call home. I could be happy anywhere, and I know that, but Darn, look around us, isn’t this great? I don’t know, because I have no perspective. I’ve often wondered if I love this area so much because I was born here, and so was my father, and his father, and so on back five generations, to the point that it is genetically bred into me, and I can’t leave, because this is where my roots are. I’ve talked to people (newcomers) who claim they feel the same way. But, I have also talked to people that can’t stand Southern Humboldt / Northern Mendocino, and I’m always glad when they go away.

Before the newcomers showed up we always talked about family connections. When meeting someone we always asked about how we might be distantly related. It helped give us a sense that we “knew” the person, sharing family history was as important to us as shaking hands, it was an offer of openness and friendship. The thing that bothered me the most about the newcomers that showed up, is when you asked them their name, it would always be something like; “Coonman Who Walks Over The Rainbow On Snowy Ridge Where The Trees Don’t Grow” then they would puff all up with great pride, like it was all about him… I used to take great joy in asking them; “Is that your first name or your last?”… But, what he was really telling me, or I should say what I was getting out of it, is that he had no “family” and was not under any circumstance to be trusted until we knew more about him. Then the next question out of their mouths is, “What do you guys have against newcomers?” … Well, could we trust someone who won’t even claim his own family. I’ve been trying to describe the nasty attitude that the newcomers claim that us old-timers have. It probably stems more from the fact that some of the newcomers didn’t want us to know who they were, but wanted us to just blindly accept them. We put up with those kind of people, but accept them blindly? ‘Taint likely ta happen. We’ve been taught ta “not trust a snake ‘til ya see if the tail rattles“.

I wonder how many people never knew that about us Generational Natives, and if they think it’s fair?

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