As I get ready to move from the great state of Colorado to the frigid north of Minnesnowta, I wanted to get something off my chest about Colorado pride.
I’m from Colorado, born and raised, and folks from Colorado have a bit of an ego when it comes to their state. And perhaps they should…
The place is incredible! Some of the best skiing in the world, beautiful hikes, mountain biking, fishing. Plus, it’s damn nice to look at!
But those who were born and raised in Colorado are so proud of their state that it borders on absurdity. Whenever there’s a conversation about where people are from, those from Colorado proudly boast, “I’m a native.”
Interesting use of language. People who were born and raised here are so proud of being from the state that they often boast it on their cars with bumper stickers like this one…
(For those unaware, it’s mean to look like the Colorado license plate.)
Folks are so proud that the term “Colorado Native” is now even an adult beverage!
Now, it’s one thing to be proud of where you’re from, but it’s not the Colorado pride that bothers me. It’s the language.
The word “native” carries a particular context in the United States. In Colorado, Native usually refers to the six tribes that were indigenous to this territory and the three tribes that sometimes occupied the area now known as Colorado.
Yet I am pretty darn sure that every time I have pulled up next to a car with the “Colorado Native” sticker in the window, the person I saw didn’t look too Indigenous (though, to be fair, Indigenous folks can have a wide range of skin tones and hair colors). No, those folks I pull up next to are usually a fratty bro or blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman. White folks.
Now, let me be clear. There’s nothing wrong with being White and being proud of your home state. That’s all well and good.
BUT YOU’RE NOT A NATIVE!
To appropriate that language only further makes “invisible” the Indigenous people who were here LONG before us White folks and who are STILL HERE despite the efforts of folks who look like me to exterminate them form this land.
So unless you’re Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Pueblo, Shoshone, Ute, Comanche, Kiowa, Navajo, or a member of one of the other Indigenous tribes that were forcibly moved to this state, please . . . Please . . .
PLEASE take that damn sticker off your car.