Since my arrival in Colorado about five years ago, I have had the opportunity to witness some incredibly interesting phenomena. Among the most intriguing of these are the driving maneuver I’ve affectionately termed The Colorado Lane Acquisition (a driver secures the right to change lanes simply by employing the use of their signal regardless of the status of oncoming traffic) and the Pothole Priority (a system of funds appropriation whereby any and all social needs, such as education and housing, yield priority to the potholes and cracks in the roadways of this state). However, my most amusing observation about Colorado culture is the elitist attitude that seems to consume a great portion of this state’s residents.
The state annually spends thousands of dollars to encourage the rest of the world to ski its slopes, visit its parks and museums, shop at its distinct sprawling malls and strips, and attend its array of professional athletic competitions. Thousands more are spent by public institutions of higher education in Colorado to recruit students from all over the nation and from other institutions in foreign countries. Lawmakers and executive administrators spend a great deal of time rubbing elbows with corporate representatives to bring money-spinning schemes to this state by encouraging their relocation. The economy encourages and seeks out immigrant workers to fill its service industry labor demands. And, all the while, Coloradoans strike down growth supporting legislation, propose controlling growth regulations, and pump out bumper stickers with catchy slogans like “Don’t Californianize Colorado” and “Native” on a Colorado license plate-like backdrop.
Exactly what sort of message are these Colorado “natives” trying to send? Is it that “Your money is welcome here, you are not?” Or maybe it’s that “You should build your vacation home here, but don’t make the vacation too long.” How about “Mop our floors, bus our tables, and we’ll call INS to take you home?”
As a squatting non-“native,” I’ve often wondered about the prerequisites for the seemingly prestigious “Native” club. Is membership simply a reflection of birth on Colorado soil? Or am I a qualifying member due solely to my ability to purchase a snazzy little bumper sticker? Does it count that I spent four years at this institution paying an obscene amount of money to support the education of at least four “Natives” with my out-of-state tuition? Am I eligible for “Native” status because I’ve contributed to the Pothole Priority through my annual income tax for the last five years? How many of the numerous hours I’ve spent carrying out community service in this state can I apply towards fulfillment of my membership prerequisites? Is there nothing I can do to secure this elite “Native” status?
The whole notion of Colorado “natives,” as defined by those who would have this state close off each of its borders and declare itself an independent nation, is fairly absurd and rather odious. This “native” attitude discourages community cohesion and promotes discriminatory spite.
Veronica Garcia is a senior majoring in sociology.