Sometimes I feel I’m a member of an invasive species here in the West, or el norte, or Tiguex, or whatever you want to call this place based on your people’s language and history of migration.
My ancestors had no connection to this land. They farmed in the Netherlands, then shifted to Michigan in the late 1800s: marshy lowlands near oceans and Great Lakes, not high deserts. I’m only able to live here—to casually load up my sedan and drive into town and rent a house and get a New Mexico driver’s license—thanks to a series of invasions over the last five centuries. First Spanish conquistadors marched north from Mexico in the 1500s and 1600s, then the United States Army marched west from the Mississippi in the 1840s.
Waves of foreign conquering forces obliterated this region’s existing balances, imposed new economic and political systems, and forced new languages and practices upon evolving populations. With Route 66 and eventually the interstates, my government literally paved the way for me to roll in.