Thursday, December 15, 2011

Migration 9: The Clash of Migration and the Hulapai

The pre-Neoliithic has left us little evidence of human debate over migration: when to do it, where to go, what thwarted or directed it. After the revolution that brought farming, property, and the heightened struggle over land, the records proliferate. We can see the impulses to migrate, and the resistance to it; we can see the sweep of conquests and the variety of ways in which over-running peoples treated the more sedentary resisters. We can also see the strengthening of the hands of the latter in more recent times, until today migration is an epithet, bigotry toward migrators is acceptable, borders are made sacred, conquest has lost its glamor.

So it is possible now for the last half-millennium's natural spread of peoples (in this case from far-western Eurasia, i.e., whitefolk) to be demonized as imperialism and colonialization. Just as it is possible for these colonialists, once settled, to demonize later migrants in turn. What is curious is how Shepherd's screed (see my 25 Nov 2011 entry) against whitefolk trampling the Hualapai down fits into this post-Neolithic world. To the Hualapai, that area of northwestern Arizona where they ended up a millennium ago after their own extensive travels is their world, the place of their origin, their land from time immemorial. Control of the remnant called the Hualapai Indian Reservation is thus a primary issue for them, just as the whitefolk in central Arizona are determined to use anti-migration legislation and an army of border police to bolster their ebbing control of the state and its government. All over the world, we are creating these jurisdictional islands where the natural human characteristic to migrate is anthema, unnatural, even illegal. 

If we forego the romancing of the noble Indian, the Hualapai Reservation is more clearly seen as a "special-use zone" where migration by non-Hualapai is controlled and taxed, stifled and prevented. As curious as is this incidence of modern human anti-migrationism, it must be admitted that the same is true of Grand Canyon National Park, a special-use zone of the strictest order, where a stance against migration (and change and land grabs) is heightened all the more because the Park's condition is (supposed) to be maintained as it was just before whitefolk in their millions set sail across the Atlantic (and Pacific and Mediterranean and Indian…). Isnt it odd that these special preserves of Park and Reservation preserve what humans are genetically not -- static and fixed in place? Meanwhile, and in spite of those who want to turn places like Arizona in its entirety into such special preserves, the very legitimate, genetically speaking, migrators uphold the banner of the wild and freely moving Homo sapiens of pre-Neolithic times. Is New York City more of a wilderness than the Grand Canyon?

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