Bubba Jo’s Commentary Provided By: Butch Meriwether
My name is Bubba Jo and I live in Mohave County with my sisters, brothers and other relatives.
My last name was withheld to protect my anonymity because of the possible retaliation by “the powers that be.”
First off, I must tell you that I don’t have any formal education and I don’t know how to read or write. However, through my family’s oral history passed down from generation to generation, I understand the true meaning of a tough life, all about discrimination, know about the constant harassment by government officials and that all of the above is still occurring continually on a daily basis.
My ancestors didn’t come to America on board the Mayflower along with those making their pilgrimage from Europe looking for a better life in the New World.
They did however, come to the Americas on supply ships with the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, and were landed at Hispaniola in 1495. It is further rumored that two of my extended family first reached North America and may have been taken to Mexico by Juan de Zumarraga a Spanish Basque Franciscan prelate and first bishop of Mexico, in 1528. According to my family historians, Zumarraga requested in 1529, that more of us be sent in order to assist the native people, who had been branded and enslaved by the Conquistadores.
I know my great-great grandfather and other ancestors did travel, at no choice of their own, during the great western migration or “movement.” I was told by my elders they really didn’t want to leave from where they had a good life and defiantly didn’t want to travel west along with the pioneer settlers. But because they had been tossed into servitude, they did not have a choice.
During the 1850s and 1860s, a new breed of pioneer emerged in the Arizona Territory – the miners who were looking for riches – and that’s just one of the two reasons why so many of my family “came into the picture.” Yes, life was tough for my relatives when they arrived in the Wild West. They had to carrying heavy loads for their masters, worked long hours and even had to help operate non-motorized machinery. They were forced into total servitude with no freedom in sight.
Our own government even was a major contributing factor as to why so many of us are now living in Arizona and that’s because of the Civil War.
You might not realize it, but the primary catalyst for the secession and split of the U.S. into north versus south was slavery, which my family members and I are fully well aware of.
The southern states were angered by the attempts of northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Confederate Arizona was a territory claimed by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, between 1861 and 1865. Another fact is both Union and Confederate troops brought us along with them during the Civil War to help transport heavy supplies.
When the miners decided to head to the California Gold Rush and the military felt there was no longer a need for my family members, they released us to fend for ourselves. Granted, some of us had previously escaped captivity and the life of servitude, but those numbers, according to research, were extremely low.
Ok, I know I got sidetracked with the above mentioned history lesson about the plight of my family, but it is a necessary one that needs to be explained. It just wasn’t our fault we are now residing in Arizona.
A factoid about us is our family has never practiced birth control and that’s probably why there are so many of us now. I know it is wrong, but our parents never explained the facts of life to us and everything we needed to know about the birds and bees.
I am sorry to say there has been a constant oppression and discrimination against my extended family and about our numbers now living in Arizona, especially in Mohave County.
We feel as if we have historically been used, abused and discarded like yesterday’s trash that was kicked to the curb. Nobody needs us now and many folks, to include government agencies, are trying to say we are a constant destructive problem.
I’ve heard that some state, county and city officials have said we are a major cause for accidents involving vehicles and that can be no further from the truth. It has been documented time and time again there has been more accidents involving dogs, deer, elk and cows than what my extended family has caused.
Certain individuals have and will continue to make obnoxious and demeaning comments about my family. Oh well, everyone has their own opinion and I can’t fault them if they choose to make them just because I got “under their skin” by writing this column.
Some of my relatives have been lucky enough to be adopted, are now living the good life of being pampered and taken care of as they so justly deserve, but others have not.
There are many of us who are homeless and have resigned to the fact we have to beg to survive. No, we are not those you see each day on the corners of streets, accompanied by pets, panhandling for a handout and are healthy enough to get a job. Unlike us, those individuals are just lazy and would rather accept a handout and not be productive citizens.
Some of my relatives’ lives have slumped to the point that they have to “work the streets” in the tourist town nestled high in the mountains along Old Route 66. Each morning they show up in Oatman and beg for tender morsels just to have something in their stomachs.
My family and I believe there are forces of darkness and evil attempting to eradicate us from the Earth and specifically Arizona.
As of 2014, there were 6.731 million people residing just in Arizona and there were only about 10,800 of our Gypsy tribe trekking across the great expanse supervised by the BLM throughout the U.S. More than 1,100 of our relatives were captured by government forces and are now living in concentration camps throughout the western U.S. It is estimated that 4,800 of us currently reside in Arizona. Yes, we have a robust population and we are proud of our linage.
The group of government agencies, non-profit organizations and civilians, who attended numerous meetings, set what they believed to be realistic population standards for us. They decided our population level in the Black Mountains would be kept at 478. Since there are about 1,800 of us just in the Black Mountains, either BLM can’t count or they have failed miserably with doing their job.
The government and others believe we are a destructive force and should be eradicated, but they fail to realize farmers, cattle and even other four-legged residents of Arizona cause numerous problems. The farmers continually deplete the area’s aquifers causing many property owners’ wells to go dry, the free-range cattle and game animals gulp down native vegetation like there is no tomorrow. But because they provide an economic boost and an infusion of revenue into the local economy, they are allowed to continue their disruptive plight.
There was a time when people went out, murdered us, cooked us up at a BBQ event and offered our burnt remains to the local citizenry. How barbaric can someone be?
Some people government officials have even suggested that hunting licenses be issued so people can head out into the desert and kill us. And there are those who believe we should be captured, spayed and neutered and then released back into the wild. What do they think we are feral cats?
Instead of putting limits on us, I believe there should be limits imposed upon people and hunting licenses issued to thin out their herd and numbers.
(Note: Bubba Jo has discussed the possibility with his family about opening an exploratory committee for the possibility of running for political office. He feels if elected, he can eradicate the servitude and injustice that has historically been and continues against his family. If he does choose to run for office, will you support his campaign?)