I’m a west coast girl. Sure, I was born in Boston… but my roots are firmly planted in California. Albeit, Hawaii was home for 15 yrs. This is where it was all happening in the 1960’s. Music, movies, surfing, and the ideal lifestyle. How many people have watched the Rose Parade, seen the sun shining on New Year’s Day and said,” I’m going to move there!” And did!! So, why move West? People have had the Dream of living west of the Rockies since this country was founded.
“Do not misunderstand me, but understand me fully and my affection for the land. I never said the land was there to do with what I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the One who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to live on yours”. – Chief Joseph, Nez Perce’ Tribe
The West is a Land of Dreams… a Sacred landscape and Sacred realities with infinite horizons. To the Spanish who traveled up from Mexico, it was North. British and French explorers arrived by coming South. The Chinese and Russians went East. Americans who had settled since the 1600’s after immigrating from Europe named it The West.
It was home to the people who were already there. For the Native Americans it was the center of their universe-home. They had lived there so long that their story of Creation linked them to the land itself. The Comanche said they came from swirls of dust. The Hidatsa, from the bottom of a big lake. Among the secret bundles of the Zuni was a stone they believed within which each beats the Heart of the World. Myths of golden cities and treasures, waiting for the taking. Souls in need of salvation. The myth of an illusive Northwest Passage nearly failed to take explorers to the sea. Mountain men and missionaries followed solitary adventurers and wagon trains of hopeful pioneers. It was a mix of pride and shame. The West would help to ignite the Civil War and witness some of its most savage killing. Union heroes that fought to free the slaves in the East would try and subjugate the Indians of the West. Native peoples would fight their last gallant wars to hold on to their lands. Then to begin a new struggle… simply to remain themselves.
The West is the most powerful Reality in the history of this country. It’s always had a power, an attraction that differentiated it from the rest of the United States. Whether the West was a place to be conquered or the West as it is today, a place to be protected and nurtured. It is the Regenerative Force of America.
There have been and still are promises and competing visions for the land, but in the end, one nation would demand All the land and take it! That ‘nation’, America, would discover itself. When you think of some of the quintessential characters, they’re always somewhere over the horizon. Think John Wayne! The singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were heroes. Hopalong Cassidy was a favorite of mine.
And many more heroes were created on the silver screen and vinyl records. Out West, we still live in the Land of Dreams.