Friday, May 29, 2009

Your family came here when? I can top that: I AM an Oregon Pioneer

The terrific High Country News has a great essay from an Idahoan titled "Call me a local and forget about my grandpappy" (subscription required -- and well worth it!), where a woman notes the same peculiar habit that is also common in Oregon: starting every public pronouncement by locating the number of generations between you and your pioneer ancestors on the Oregon Trail.

That HCN essay made me realize a couple things:

First, pioneers tended to be the kind of folks who left where they were to get away from people who determined a person's social standing by referring to the person's family. In other words, whenever you start off by saying "As a fifth-generation Oregonian . . . " you're saying "I'm the kind of person that my pioneer ancestors fled from."

Second, people who emigrate to Oregon today have more in common with your ancestors than you do, because we packed up all our things and moved to this beautiful state just like they did. We are pioneers, in other words.

We didn't have the luck to be born here, but we did have the luck to see how much worse it can be elsewhere, in places where they despoil their wildernesses and pave over their best land. And, like your pioneer ancestors, we found that our destination was already inhabited. Be glad that we are treating you much better than your pioneer ancestors treated the inhabitants they found here.


Snarfy said...

Ha! I love it. I am a 3nd generation Californian, myself. :P I am very happy to put down my roots here!

Walker said...

Well now, don't be crazy. We are in Oregon, after all. Looking down on Californians is right in there with strawberries as fundamental rights in Oregon.


Snarfy said...

hehe! I know, you Original Oregonians are all crazy. Thank God I am a transplant. :P