Emigration Vs. Immigration

Emigration Vs. Immigration

By Roger Johnson

Little House on the Prairie


To emigrate is to leave one’s country to live in another. To immigrate is to come from another country to live permanently. A fine line but perhaps an even larger, more encompassing word that covers this all is change. To leave one’s way of life and adopt another could be either positive or negative experiences. I read something recently that made me think about my life today and those around me.

It is interesting to me that the concept of what was being experienced by the whole of people, as the United States was being settled, never really registered with me. Truly, a lot of my education in these areas came from the likes of “Little House on the Prairie” and “Gunsmoke”

I recently read that:*When the Indians were the sole inhabitants of the United States, their wants were few. Their arms were of their own manufacture, their clothes consisted of skins of animals, whose flesh furnished them with food and water from the streams.

The Europeans introduced to the Indians of North America, firearms, spirits and iron. They taught the Indians to exchange for their manufactured stuffs. The rough garments that previously satisfied the Indian’s untutored simplicity then changed as new tastes were acquired. The Indians had little to offer except rich furs which abound in the woods and fields. While the wants of the natives increased, their resources began to diminish.

When a European settlement formed in the territory occupied by the Indians produced continuous sounds of European labor, the Indians began to depart to the West following the elk, buffalo, and the beaver.

Try to conceive the extent of the sufferings which accompanied these forced emigrations. They were undertaken by a people already exhausted and emotionally reduced. The territories to which they moved were inhabited by other tribes which received them with hostility. Hunger was in the rear and war awaited them with misery beset on all sides. To escape a host of enemies, they separate and each individual endeavored to support themselves in solitude and secrecy, living as an outcast from a formally civilized society.

The social ties weakened by this dissolved. The Indians as a whole lost their country and their families are obliterated. Names they bore in common were forgotten, their language perished, and traces of their origin disappeared.

So, I am now thinking today, why have I chosen to emigrate and live in Mexico the last ten years? What was I experiencing that made me want to do that? Do you suppose the outcome of the last election for the President of the United States had anything in common with emigration or the need to change the voter’s way of life? A teenager interviewed recently was asked what one item would it be most difficult to live without and responded, “My cellphone” What happened to food, clothing and shelter?

*An excerpt from Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 book, DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA


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