I have for a long time been preoccupied by the element of humanity that I think of as our tendency to spread. Spread as in migration, wandering, touring, restlessness in literature; as in the spread of ideas, knowledge, experience; as in trade, economic activity over distance & peoples; as in conquest, imperialism, occupation, colonization.** Recently a couple of books, along with current political debates and actions, have particularly stirred me up. And this past week, the Grand Canyon connection was brought into focus by my reading about the 1990's-2000's story of unauthorized DNA sampling of the Havasupai. So I have decided to see if this internal ferment can be made coherent, and maybe even connected to Grand Canyon futures.
Sometime in the 1990's, I read Bruce Chatwin's 1987 The Songlines, with its rhapsodic paean to "wandering" as an essential human quality. What came before that to lead me on this path of thought, I do not recall. However, I live in a country where a trip of 4000 kilometers is totally ordinary, and have done it many times on the ground and by airplane. Yet only a few of these journeys would be considered "migrations". I dont know that I thought of them that way, even though had I done comparable moves on most other continents, that is just what they would have been as I crossed multiple national borders. One of the enduring questions in discussing migration is why a journey by a third-generation American (grandparents from Italy) from Boston to San Francisco, or Chicago to Houston, evokes not a whisper, but a villager looking for work going from Oaxaca to Phoenix or Cairo to Rome is a criminal.