1 : indigenous, native
2 : formed or originating in the place where found
A self of the earth. Sprung from the land one inhabits. Born and raised. Local. Indigenous. The breeding ground for pride, nationality, ethnicity.
When I was recently visiting the east coast, I spent one night at my friend Josh's place in a little town called North Attleboro in Massachusetts. I am no stranger to this place; it hovers in the outskirts of metro Providence where I lived for five years. For four of those five years I worked at a store in North Attleboro, but I spent hardly any time there and I barely ever made it off the main drag of retail shops exiled to the southern end of town.
The next morning while Josh was still asleep, I wandered down the road to the nearest Dunkin Donuts to have a cup of coffee. I sat in the pink and purple shop for an hour, watching people come in and get their breakfast. I guessed most of the people were locals, AUTOCHTHONOUS to North Attleboro; many greeted each other in line, inquiring about children and camp and plans for the fourth of July. I sat there by the window with a notebook, probably the only notebook that Dunkin Donuts has ever seen, writing about how jealous I was of this life, living and being who you are in the place where you came from, and how elitist I must be, sitting there taking notes on the indigenous peoples of southern Massachusetts. After living in cities for a decade—especially the second half of that decade in Portland, Land of Non-Natives—I have this incredible appreciation for the authenticity of self that must exist outside the production that is city life.
A word like AUTOCHTHONOUS seems pretty relevant in our increasingly globalized culture. I can make a fair guess that very few things solely exist in the place from which they came anymore. And there is an observed appreciation for the authenticity indicative of AUTOCHTHONOUSNESS—I imagine eating Linguine alla Marinara in Italy is an entirely different experience than it is here, just as native North Attleboroeans seem way more exciting to me in a Dunkin Donuts in North Attleboro than they would had I been observing them anywhere else.