Massachusetts, July 1641 — Councilmember Squanto put down his beans this week and raised some hay, addressing the assembled tribes on the delicate subject of continued uncontrolled immigration into America from Europe. “If we cannot even control who comes to our land and in what numbers,” he said “we are no longer an independent people, but simply a colony for outsiders to exploit.”
“Half of Europe would come here if we let them,” Squanto continued, “can we take in every landless peasant in the whole world and still remain a distinct nation? I don’t blame the pilgrims for seeking a better life in America, but their right to a better life ends at the border to our tribal territory!”
“Your words of hate and exclusion shame us!” responded the venerated and rotund Elder Councilmember Tahed Kenha-Di. “These starving migrants from across the Big River do the jobs no self-respecting Brave wants to do.” “Would you sit like squaw at a loom day and night as their weavers do, simply to trade valuable cloth for a few dozen worthless Beaver pelts?” Kenha-Di then added, “The fact is our economy is now intimately dependent upon the proud and harmless white men, many of whom now reside on my tribe’s land and pay their tribute to our council like everyone else. I’m proud to represent the humble newcomers and their valuable trading centers!”
“Your words come from a bottle of the white man’s firewater, you old bag of succotash!” interjected right wing nut-brave Paw Trick Buka-Nin. “Their firesticks make your tribe stronger every year and you would sell the rest of us out to keep their gifts coming to your friends! We made fine cloth here when I was a child! We did not have to trade for it.”
The hearing then took an awkward turn as an especially red-faced Kenha-Di responded curtly “Your cloth smelled like a French Trader and cost too many hard-earned beads!” Councilmember Kenha-Di later issued a statement apologizing for the uncharacteristic outburst, at the request of both the Societe du Marchand Francais and the Penobsquat Traditional Weavers and Dyers Union.
The exchange is typical of the uncontrolled immigration debate, however, which seems to be heating up throughout Indian Territory. A sampling of comments from those outside the Council meeting illustrates the diversity of opinion and depth of feeling on this issue:
“Everyday I feel more like a stranger in my own land. I feel overwhelmed by the numbers.” -Bob Running-Turtle, New Bedford.
“I see the undocumented Europeans as a big plus: cheap trade goods and exotic cuisine every Thanksgiving! What’s not to like?” -Pocahontas RunningBear-Smith, Mystic River Valley.
“For me it’s a simple matter of principal: they have been told not to come here and they do anyway. If our laws mean nothing to them, what sort of neighbors will they become?” -Flint “Sparky” Firestone, Springfield.
“There’s enough land in America for everybody! Let’s share.” -Dawn Clamdigger, Wellesley.
Such conflicting opinion seemed to be reflected even in the Council’s decisions this session, which included both a vote to appoint a blue-feather panel to investigate the impact of the influx of Europeans on tribal jobs and an earlier vote to establish a new trading post on land owned by Councilmember Kenha-Di’s cousin. Although a decades-old resolution calling for a war party to guard the border is still technically in effect, the Council again failed to fund the expedition and denounced as “vigilantes” a group of braves who volunteered their time to guard the tribal borderlands.
Reacting to this latest controversy in the chronic debate over illegal immigration of Europeans, United Tribes Chief Little-Tree called for calm and understanding. “We’re all immigrants in this country. Whether you crossed the yet-to-be-named Bering Straits thousands of years ago, or just hopped off on Plymouth Rock this morning, we are all nothing but wandering Africans deep down inside, and we’re all just glad to be here in America. These good-hearted folks from across the Big River are simply the latest wanderers in our inexhaustible land of plenty. Like I said at the treaty signing yesterday –where we all promised to get along forever– a pilgrim is just a friend you haven’t met yet, and you can’t have too many friends! Thank you! Gods Bless! No questions.”
Renowned tribal economist Jethro Eagle-Eye points to a simple explanation for the inaction of the Chief and Council on this hot-button issue. “The Economy is doing well. Council supporters are earning record revenues off the hide and fur trade. And to be terribly clever in my overreaching pronouncements, the concept of ‘borders’ may have outlived it usefulness in an era of unprecedented globalization. You see, from a free trade perspective, the Indian-Pilgrim relationship is a good deal for both parties. We have a surplus of land and need cheap goods. They have a surplus of labor and need land. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I mean, these people couldn’t even grow their own corn a few years ago. Well, they call it ‘corn’. We call it ‘maize’. But soon they’ll learn our ways and then they’ll call it ‘maize’ too.”
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