The “we were here first” argument and why this is so stupid


Many Washington apple growers get defensive about their pesticide use and farming methods.

Some Eastern/Central Washington apple growers especially hate it when people from Seattle come over to Eastern Washington and complain about their methods. They see Eastern Washington as “their turf”. They look at city people as “206-ers”, or perhaps more ignorantly a common term is “from the coast” or “coasties”. It’s borderline derogatory in nature, and a racial slur.

Some less educated Washington apple growers think that because they live in a rural area or “the country” that rules and laws don’t apply. They think somehow being more rural that urban makes it OK to spray toxic chemicals up in the air to make their “food”…. sending fruits laced with pesticides right into the grocery stores.

One common argument is “well we were here first!”.

It’s perhaps the dumbest argument that a person could make for the apple industry. Lets take the Lake Chelan valley as a prime example because there is often a lot of clash in this area between the apple orchards and the so-called “206-ers”.

Here is where we employ logic. Ready for this growers? See the infographic below if you can’t understand what I’m about to say. According to the Washington Apple Commission’s website, the commercial apple industry started up by 1889. So the apple industry has been here for about 127 years. Native Americans were here for thousands of years before that. In fact, History Link reports they have been in the region for about 12,000 years. Do you know what that means? The Indians were here for more than 100x longer than the Apple Industry has been in existence. So who was really here first?

If you are in the apple industry, you were most certainly not here first. Not even close. Eastern Washington is not the sole domain of the Apple Industry. You don’t have any more rights over this area than somebody with a summer home, or who is vacationing from Portland, Seattle, Boise, or anywhere else. The land you grow your “food” on was taken from Native Americans forcibly and many were murdered, raped, and pillaged to get it. They were shoved onto reservations. We all know the story. It’s a sad truth that nobody wants to talk about (kind of like how apples are made).

History Link reminds us about Native Americans, “They evolved complex cultural, social, and economic structures, which the invasion of Euro-American settlers in the mid-1800s almost erased, but which continue today as the tribes struggle for their survival, respect, and renewal.

You may feel entitled to Eastern Washington, and you may feel like its your turn, being invaded by “city folk” with nice summer homes, but 120 years is just a small blip in the timeline.