We’re right up on the 400th anniversary of Jamestown settlement, which I find pretty amazing. But by the time Jamestown was founded, Europeans had been in frequent contact with the Indians for more than a century. Only after a series of epidemic diseases over many decades removed nine-tenths of the Indians was it possible for Europeans to successfully establish a toehold on these shores. Only the removal of the Indians by disease (caused by contact with the Europeans) left the land open for settlement by the whites from Europe and the blacks from Africa. Gunpowder alone wouldn’t have done it.

Just as strange plants get introduced and moved around, so do animals, people and cultures. And everything that is moved adapts – becomes different – meets its new environment at least partway, whether it wants to or not, or knows it or not. We sometimes think of plants or animals as being “native” to a given area, but probably if we could see their history we would see that each was merely a successful adaptation. We are all native, we are all immigrants.

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