Identity of Place

by | Oct 1, 2020 | Uncategorized

Near Maroon Bells Colorado Author’s Photo

Identity of Place

The “identity of a place” is not really something we consciously or always think about while living in or visiting a particular place. That said, we usually know something about a location, and we experience it on some level. However, if we dig deeper and make an effort to study places, we will uncover more information from a historical and cultural perspective. For example, we can unearth stories about those who were there before us and why it was important to them.

As well, we might learn about the geology and geography of an area. Too, we might imagine the “blood, sweat, and tears” of the people who were the original settlers. Why did they come? Where did they come from? What did they leave behind? Further, we might learn of the tragedies, hardships, joys, triumphs, desires, and efforts that helped establish it. Above all, we might learn more about these people’s relationships, the traditions, and lifestyles they developed and left for future inhabitants. Finally, we can understand more about what molded a place into what it is today. What gave it a unique “identity of a place.”

Why we should learn about a place and its history and inhabitants

Amache Site of War Relocation Authority internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII
The site of Camp Amache, internment camp of Japanese-American citizens during World War II

As most of us do, it’s important to realize that a place is not just the land. While the location is important, and some places we visit are pristine, beautiful wilderness areas, others might have a particular cause for their existence.

Each place we visit has a history we should learn about and respect. Even more, we should recognize most as places where people had gone before and left their mark. It might be a place of sorrow and represent a loss of freedom. It could be a place where battles took place. Perhaps it is a place where people fought for their way of life, for their beliefs and rights. Or maybe it’s a place of sacrifice where others have died for the sake of those beliefs and rights. Additionally, it might represent struggle and survival, or hope and belief of someplace better. It could mean discovery and riches. In any case, while we can celebrate the richness individuals bring to a place, we should also understand our obligation to maintain it, restore it, respect it, and maybe even improve it and, above all, to not harm it.

Itentity of Place Sunset on an abandoned farm
Sunset on an abandoned farm

Ultimately, I think we should all understand that our personal history and reason for being where we are is a result of one of these reasons that motivated our ancestors. They left their thumbprint on our lives, and ultimately, We will all leave a thumbprint for our future generations.

An essential understanding of respect for a place is to know and appreciate its early and current inhabitants, whether they are people, nature, or creatures.

There have been points in our history where we have not been the best stewards of our environment and those neighbors who were here before. We have added to the “Identity of Place,” but not always in a positive way.

“My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain…There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.” 

Chief Seattle Speech

In North and South America, Native Americans or Indigenous peoples of the Americas were the early inhabitants. They are the pre-Columbian inhabitants and their descendants. 

Most authorities agree that they first arrived over 13000 years ago from Eurasia, but others believe that they came as much as 40,000 years ago.

The important thing to note is that America has been home to millions of people of diverse backgrounds and rich heritages who have left indelible marks on the land before European adventurers’ arrival in the 15th Century.

As these European migrants began to expand and push into the lands inhabited by these indigenous groups and pushing them out, generations of conflict ensued.

White settlers arrive in American and take Native American Lands
White settlers arrive in American and take Native American Lands


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