Plants, animals, people—we all originated somewhere. We’re all “native” to someplace. So to say that a species is “native” is only meaningful in contrast to… something else.
An invasive species.
Although I think I could craft a definition of “invasive species” based on my own understanding, lately I’ve been trying to check myself by looking up old knowledge I may have come to take for granted. Here’s what I found, courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture:
As per Executive Order 13112 an "invasive species" is defined as a species that is:
1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and
2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
Invasive species can be plants, animals, and other organisms (e.g., microbes). Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions.
It strikes me as ironic that this official definition was issued by a government that is itself so inherently invasive, from its coastal inception to its westward expansion to its imperialistic growth around the globe. Yes, “human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions.” The first step is generally to be an invasive species ourselves: invading others’ homelands, interrupting harmonious ecosystems, destroying communities’ age-old self-sufficiency, undermining what’s sacred.