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Do Not Use · 11th March 2010
Ralph Nursall
A Small Complaint
Ralph Nursall

I wish to make a small complaint. I have been aware that at some time, in about the last five years, give or take, a new word has crept into the Cortes Island lexicon, and spread, like an infection, into print and conversation. It is the subject of my complaint. The word is Cortesian. It has become á la mode to refer to Cortes Islanders as Cortesians. Cortesian? It sounds like a brand of bottled water – or maybe a hair preparation.

If you refer to yourself as a Cortesian anywhere off-island, you will be stared at blankly. You may be asked “Is that like a Rosicrucian? – or a Freudian?” Or you may be asked “Where is Cortesia?”

As for me, I am irremediably a Cortes Islander. “Island” is the important part of the name! We are defined in location, with unequivocal clarity, by the limits of the island. What we do, where we prefer to be, how we get about are absolutely determined by the island nature of our home. There is no fuzziness about the boundaries; at the edge, our feet are either wet or dry!

Cortes is a slightly exotic, historical, distinctive, adjectival name for the island. It connects us immediately with the complicated history of European exploration of this region. That in itself, and the relationships of the First People with newcomers, open the doors of discussion of rights, privileges, and possibilities of many sorts. Not for a moment do I suggest avoiding that, but in the immediate present we live on Cortes Island and my proper descriptor is ‘Cortes Islander’.

Also, I would not be a Cortesian for the reason that it suggests the connotation “follower of Cortes”. Hernando Cortes was the first conquist-ador, one, who in modern terms, would be called a terrorist or a war criminal. Certainly, in the eyes of such as Arawaks, Aztecs and Incas, the first European adventurers in the New World were terrorists, far more nasty and successful in employing terror than the sectarian misfits that today we are told to be terrified by. Cortesian is not a brand I want. Recognizing Cortes’ name as left over from distant history is far different from following his lead. Many old names persist as epithets without odium: a bunch of disreputable and abandoned gods have given us names for days and months; geographic place-names celebrate a lot of creepy people; all sorts of avaricious and cruel rulers are remembered as the “Great”. History softens names; they remind us of our past – and our behaviour, which remains unchanged. So that must be watched and challenged, for which the sticky notes of names are posted as reminders.

I am a Cortes Islander! The name has meaning, and I remember!

(This note first appeared in the Whaletown National Enquirer, December, 2009.)
Comment by David Shipway on 19th March 2010
Maybe what got this trend going was the way some old timers pronounce the name of the island as "Corteez" ?

Far more offensive in my dictionary is the now-ubiquitious label of "Consumer" being used instead of "Citizens". That really gets my goat, especially when government people and "certifiable economists" start insulting us with the term.
thank you Ralph
Comment by toby roman on 18th March 2010
Thank you Ralph , I have always hated that word , I'm glad to see that someone feels the same way I do .
Count yourself lucky Ralph
Comment by Samantha and Mike Moore on 16th March 2010
Hi Ralph,
In the Cortezone, I refer to myself as a Cortesan too! And to an islander I'll give my number as 6756. But to an off-islander I'm from Cortes Island and I give the full 10 digit phone number.

Just be happy that high-speed is not a universal right on Cortes and we're not all texting each other using that hash of the language. OMG!

Motel had it right
Comment by Lexy on 14th March 2010
Cortesian does sort of convey the notion that we are followers of Hernando. But Cortesan conveys something entirely different and always served up a chuckle when driving past the motel. I say we should all be Cortesans. It implies hospitality and more.
Comment by Doug Brown on 12th March 2010
You need to eat more green vegetables Ralph.
conquistadores somos...
Comment by norberto on 12th March 2010
I completely agree with Ralph !

I was born and raised in Mexico, so I understand the meaning of Hernando Cortes. The historical implications and consequences of his actions are so colossal. To me, it is almost a shame to be called "Cortesian."

It makes me feel like a conquistador… maybe that is the case anyways..

I proposed long time ago that we should look for the original, pre-Cortes, name of this island and change it !