Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Invasive species

I’ve been reading a lot about the latter day migration from the eastern parts of this country to the western. The reporting of this migration seems to have overtones of an urban-to-rural shift as well. Apparently, swarms of effete, city-dwelling liberals have descended upon the likes of Missoula and Bozeman with the nefarious design of turning those fine towns into mini-Manhattans. These barbarian hordes have leaped over the Mississippi River and invaded the American West like the proverbial plague of locusts, destroying the character that supposedly drew us here in the first place.

Eh, whatever.

I suspect this migration is not so much a cause of the deterioration of the old western way of life, but an effect of it. Lifestyles and cultures are changing all over the U.S., not just in the west. Lifelong employment with a single organization – or even within a single profession – has become exceedingly rare. Farming, like seemingly every other form of traditional business in this country, has been slurped up by giant conglomerates, rendering the family farmer an endangered species indeed.

It’s not merely that easterners have gotten bored of the Appalachians and the Midwestern prairies and are just now hearing the siren song of the Rockies and the Cascades --though there may indeed be some of that. Things are a bit more complicated.

But in any event, most of the folks complaining are here because, 150 years or so ago, their ancestors did the same thing they’re complaining about easterners doing – only worse. Most of those people came out here and plunked themselves down without a by-your-leave to the area’s original inhabitants, whom they then forced onto reservations.

So forgive me if I am unashamed that I offered valuable and adequate consideration for the home I bought near Portland, Oregon, after moving from Indianapolis, Indiana, two years ago. (Want to bitch about Seattle and Portland’s outrageous housing prices? Look south for a large cause of that problem, not east.)

For my part, I was just born too late. My ancestors have been in this country since the 1600’s, and in Indiana since the early 1800’s. They moved to the Midwest from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. They just stopped too soon. They became enamored of the fertile black soil prairies, and stuck around.

I’m just picking up where they left off.

1 comment:

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. I've been reading through your posts -- I love the video of the chicks! Will have to show it to my daughter.

Anyway, this is the one that I wanted to comment on. Being, you know, married to one of the people complaining about the newcomers. (I'm a newcomer myself.) What's happening in Bozeman & Whitefish is happening in Bend, too.

Anyway. The complaint has a couple components: 1> I used to be able to mtn bike where your house now stands, and that makes me feel claustrophobic & disenfranchised 2> I used to be able to go into the forest alone & now it's always crowded; you are ruining someplace I used to love and 3 -- and this is the most important part -- 3> you are trying to change me and my town. You don't value what I value. It's a culture clash.

You are completely right that the people doing the complaining have no right to do so, since they are invaders, too. That doesn't make them any less unhappy.

I've lived here for almost ten years & am really only now understanding all the ways that my husband's belief system and mine have fundamentally different roots.

Sorry for the loooong comment but one last thing, I'd like to know what you think of this: post on frontiers, part one and part two.