This was submitted at the request of the Arizona Republic in response to the question: What Arizonans should know about their state.
Arizona has always been a corridor and an oasis. For thousands of years, the proud, diverse and sometimes desperate cultures of known and unknown peoples have charted and traversed the routes of this land’s majestic rivers, canyons and deserts. The living histories and rich legacies of its Native American, European, American, Latin American, mestizo and an infinite variety of multiethnic communities have left their unforgettable marks of progress and scars of regression. Frankly, to say, “I’m an Arizonan” is an imprecise statement at best. Our state, like our nation, is a continuous invention, a brilliant but everlastingly incomplete idea. That is why “free people” must always stand vigil against the tireless agents of repression. Arizonans should know, should make themselves aware, should understand that as eternally resplendent as our sunsets may seem, we are all but migrants in time. As such, let us welcome the newcomers. It is at once a selfless and selfish act. Because we are them.