Synopses & Reviews
Although Frederick Webb Hodge once remarked that the members of the Eastern Apache tribe called the Mescaleros were "never regarded as so warlike" as the Apaches of Arizona, their history clearly belies that statement. The record is one of hardship and oppression alternating with wars of revenge. They were friendly to the Spaniards until victimized by them. They were also friendly to the Americans until they were betrayed again. For three hundred years they fought the Spaniards and Mexicans. For forty more they fought the Americans, before subsiding into a long period of lethargy and discouragement. Only since 1930 have they made real progress.
In the early days their principal range was between the Rand#237;o Grande and the Pecos in New Mexico, but it extended also into the Staked Plains and southward into Mexico. They moved about freely, wintering on the Rand#237;o Grande or farther south, ranging the buffalo plains in the summer, following the sun and the food supply. They owned nothing and everything.
Now they are in a precarious economic condition, but at least they are American citizens and still own their reservation in the Tularosa country of New Mexico. Their children are beginning to go away to college and prepare themselves for leadership, and while in many ways they have not bridged the gap between their old life and the new, they have made amazing progress.
Their story is told here from the earliest records to the present day, from the Indian's point of view. Cruel and revengeful as these Indians were at times, they always had more than sufficient provocation, and a catalog of the sins committed against them is revealing, even appalling, to a white reader.
"A well-written history of a group of Indians who helped to keep the
Southwest in an uproar for several centuries. The description of the earlier Apaches' way of life, contrasted with their wretched life after the white man arrived, explains the uproar. The saddest words in the book are 'It need not have been that way.' For here, retold as it affected and still affects the Mescaleros, is also the story of our errant and confused Indian policy. The book concludes with an evaluation of the situation the Mescaleros face today on their beautiful reservation in New Mexico. One hopes this warm, sympathetic and lucid history will find a wide audience to help banish the prevalent misconceptions and stereotypes of Indians held by many Americans. Recommended
for all libraries." Library Journal
"Mr. Sonnichsen...balances fact and interpretation in a style that is interesting, delightful, and scholarly." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review
"This is an excellent book. It is beautifully written by a master craftsman." The Journal of Southern History
About the Author
Contrary to popular rumor, C. L. Sonnichsen is not a native of Tucson but one of those who a decade ago decided he would "rather be in Tucson." Born in Iowa and educated in Minnesota and at Harvard University, he spent most of his teaching years in Texas institutions-Texas College of Mines, Texas Western College, and the University of Texas at El Paso. In the last he is H. Y. Benedict Professor of English, Emeritus.
Today he is Senior Editor of the Journal of Arizona History. His philosophy of "grassroots history" he has explained in his recent book The Ambidextrous Historian: Historical Writers and Writing in the American West and illustrated in his earlier Cowboys and Cattle Kings and The Mescalero Apaches, all published by the University of Oklahoma Press.