Carlos Montezuma's fight against "bureauism" an unexpected Pima hero.
With respect to the reservation system, Montezuma was unequivocal in his condemnation of the Indian Bureau's mishandling of health and education services. In a 1913 issue of the Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians, Montezuma set a tone that drove his political agenda for the rest of his life. In an address titled "Light on the Indian Situation" Montezuma recounted his life story, including his legendary abduction by Pima raiders, his childhood in Chicago, and his graduation from medical college. He also gave a brief account of his career as an Indian Service physician, in which he said of the Western Shoshone Agency: "There I saw in full what deterioration a reservation is for the Indians. I watched these Indians, cut off from civilized life, trying to become like Yankees with the aid of a few government employes [sic]. Because of my own experience I was now able to fully realize how their situation held them to their old Indian life, and often wondered why the government held them so arbitrarily to their tribal life, when better things were all around them" (51). Based on his Indian Service experience, Montezuma launched a three-pronged political crusade: (1) creating outrage about reservation conditions, (2) calling for the abolition of the Indian Bureau, and (3) advocating for the assimilation of Indians into mainstream American society. "Colonization, segregation and reservation are the most damnable creations of men," Montezuma declares. "They are the home, the very hothouse of personal slavery--and are no place for the free and the 'home of the brave'" (53).
What Montezuma wanted, above all, was for Indians to enjoy the same rights and privileges that their white--albeit, typically male and especially privileged--counterparts took for granted as US citizens. Benefiting from such advantages as a modern education only occurred for Montezuma because he was reared in an urban environment, far from the oppressive conditions of reservation life. Nevertheless, he could not forsake his birth community altogether. As Leon Speroff notes: "Beginning in 1901, Montezuma returned to Arizona in the early fall of nearly every year" (258). Montezuma consequently became acquainted with Yuma Frank, who led the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation during these years, and his cousins, one of whom, Charles Dickens, solicited Montezuma's help against the Indian Bureau and the Salt River Valley Water Users Association, both of which wanted the Yavapais removed. Dickens broke the news to Montezuma in a letter dated March 29, 1910: "Lately I learned that our agent have [sic] heard from Washington that we are to move to the Pima Indian Reservation" (Speroff 285). Montezuma did not hesitate to answer the call for help and accepted the power of attorney. As Montezuma asserted: "In these forty years' absence from my people I have not forgotten them. They have been in my heart day and night. For them my pen and tongue have not been idle'" It was only a matter of time, though, before Montezuma became familiar with the situation on the Pima reservation, which faced its own land and water crisis, in addition to the possibility of the Pimas being removed to Indian Territory, Oklahoma. The Pimas also joined Montezuma's evangelical campaign against the Indian Bureau, which Montezuma defined thusly:
The original grand, noble and ideal object of the Indian Bureau was to aid and protect the Indian and prepare him to emerge from his wigwam into civilization, and it has been a total failure.
Within my period of years there have been ten or twelve commissioners of Indian affairs. Most of them are dead, and the machine still exists to be greased and tinkered with. It is a political machine, where one goes out and another comes in, taking turns greasing and adjusting the Indian machine. (Montezuma, "Let My People Go")
The work that the "Indian machine" did on Indigenous people included forcibly removing them whenever the Indian Bureau deemed it in the Indian's "best interest" Forced removal did not end with the Cherokee "trail of tears" as the Yavapais learned. They were simply the latest victims, struggling to retain the rights promised them in the 1903 Executive Order that established the Fort McDowell reservation, which proclaimed: "that so much of the land of the Camp McDowell abandoned military reservation ... be ... set aside and reserved for the use and occupancy of such Mohave-Apache Indians as are now living thereon or in the vicinity, and such other Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may hereafter deem necessary to place thereon." (2) While clearly implying the possibility of "other Indians" being placed on their reservation, what the Yavapais did not anticipate was the proposal to remove them to the Salt River Reservation. The Pimas, as expected, were alarmed by this development as much as the Yavapais.
In Cycles of Conquest Edward H. Spicer refers to the Gila River Pima, or "Akimel O'odham," who were in a crisis due to the severe water loss caused by up-river damming. Indeed, many Pimas opted to move from their homes along the Gila to what they hoped would be more fruitful stakes along the Salt River. Naturally, the Pimas along the Salt were now fearful that moving the Yavapais there would only put them in the same predicament from which they sought to escape in the first place. Employing the 1887 General Allotment Act, the Indian Bureau pressured Pimas into accepting ten-acre allotments, which would supposedly be complete with water rights. However, unallotted land would be put on the open market. Montezuma inveighed against the Indian Bureau's plans:
In 1918 [Montezuma] began to devote his time to the problems of Indians and came frequently to the Pima.... He published a monthly magazine and espoused the view that the Indian Bureau had no right to allot land, it being the property of the Indians to dispose of as they saw fit. Pimas, called "Montezumas," listened to him and opposed the allotment program. (Spicer 150) (3)
Thus, a movement was born. Spicer subsequently notes that in 1925 an opposition group, the League of Papago Chiefs, formed for the purpose of holding out "for traditional ways and a minimum of interference in village affairs by the superintendent and his assistants." Support came, not only from traditionalists, but also from "those conservatives sometimes called 'Montezumas' who had listened with approval to Dr. Carlos Montezuma in his speeches at Sacaton [on the Gila River reservation] denouncing the Bureau of Indian Affairs and advocating its elimination" (Spicer 141). Montezuma voiced Pima and Papago concerns and shaped their political thinking as a result.
Spicer then makes a surprising claim about Montezuma's role in "religious diversification": "Strictly speaking, it [Montezuma's influence] was not a religious movement in the sense of resting on supernatural belief. Yet it had religious repercussions and in some ways affected Pimas and Papagos as a religious movement." Spicer refers particularly to Montezuma's impassioned drive to abolish the Indian Bureau and protect Indian rights: "His meetings at Sacaton on the Pima Reservation gained him many adherents, who were deeply dissatisfied with reservation conditions; at the same time he incurred the disapproval of the Indian Bureau. After several years of preaching he died of tuberculosis on the Salt River Reservation." Spicer evokes a mythic narrative, influenced perhaps by Montezuma's grandiloquent writing style, as well as the Indigenous history that contextualized Spicer's discourse.
Whatever the influence, Spicer affirms that Montezuma's influence was "based chiefly on the dignity and worth of the Indian racial and cultural heritage," and that Montezuma preached that Indigenous values and beliefs were superior to white Americans; moreover, that Indians ought to turn to their own ways, instead of mainstream society. Montezuma, furthermore, promoted the idea that "Indians should reassume the independence they had practiced before the Indian Bureau had taken them over, take up their land again in their own name, and demonstrate the fundamental greatness of the Indian way of life" (Spicer 530-31). While Montezuma would have disputed this interpretation of his ideas, he did galvanize Indians across the reservation to empower themselves and assert their rights. Indeed, what may explain Spicer's unique perspective on Montezuma is how Pimas and Papagos remembered him, which was based more on what he did for the Indian community than on his speeches and publications (see Hertzberg 44-45, 197).
Spicer notwithstanding, since the scholarly community is generally more focused on written documents, it is unsurprising that historians have portrayed Montezuma in a different light. Despite his having played a prominent role as a founder and critic of the Society of American Indians, Hazel W. Hertzberg scarcely mentions Montezuma's activism on behalf of the Fort McDowell and Salt River communities. Hertzberg does, however, cite Spicer and refer to those who sublimated Montezuma's story into the Tohono O'odham oral tradition: "Montezumas ... were older Village headmen who came to identify Montezuma with both Jesus and a tribal deity and believed that 'Montezuma would one day return and restore better times and good moral behavior"' (45). (4) The Montezuma legend apparently did not survive long, nor did it spread very far. Although his ideas and opinions emboldened "older leaders among Yavapais on the Fort McDowell and San Carlos reservations and to Apaches at San Carlos," neither turned these ideas into a political organization like their Pima and Papago counterparts. Moreover, "by 1950 Dr. Montezuma the man was but a vague memory to the Indians with whom he had come in contact" (Spicer 531). Perhaps it is due to the faded memory of Montezuma's deeds that the Arizona chapter of his illustrious career has been long in gaining recognition.
William R. Coffeen, for example, mentions Montezuma's name exactly twice in his 1972 article about the Central Arizona Project and the Fort McDowell reservation, in which only a brief reference is made to Montezuma's work for the Yavapais (351-52). Sue Abbey Chamberlain, however, gives a more substantial account of how Montezuma defended the Fort McDowell Indian community from forced removal in her 1975 article on Fort McDowell Indian water rights. Noteworthy is Chamberlain's account of Montezuma's success at frustrating the Indian Bureau's effort to remove the Yavapais to Salt River (32).
Peter Iverson, however, in his 1982 biography, provides the most detailed and expansive account to date regarding Montezuma's almost single-handed struggle against Indian Bureau imperialism. What were interesting but cursory remarks about Montezuma's return to his childhood home in the previous scholarly works are, in Iverson's work, recognized as a major turning point in his life and activism. More to the point, Iverson makes the key observation that Montezuma not only reaffirmed his identity as a Yavapai but also became enlightened about the need for intertribal alliances: "Thus [Montezuma] transcended the usual tribal boundary to see the common concerns shared by differing Indian communities. The Pimas may have continued to be deadly enemies for George Dickens, but to Montezuma they became friends who needed his assistance" (121). (5)
The Pima alliance is meaningful in light of the fact that Montezuma regularly told the story of his abduction by a Pima raiding party, who sold him to itinerant photographer Carlo Gentile for thirty dollars in silver. One might have expected Montezuma to have been biased against the Pimas. Yet, as Iverson quotes Montezuma: "I want the Pimas and the Apaches always to be friends and brothers" Montezuma, in turn, lived up to this platitude by consistently treating Yavapai and Pima leaders and community members with unwavering respect. On the other hand his animosity toward the Indian Bureau was always obvious. Indeed, Iverson observes that a critical advantage Montezuma had over his nemeses in the Indian Bureau was a better education and a sharper mind, which earned him a nefarious reputation: "Montezuma gave voice and power to the misgivings and unhappiness of Indian people. He made life more difficult. He was in the way" (121, 130).
In spite of his heroics, Montezuma's status in modern American Indian history, Iverson's work notwithstanding, remained marginal (see Khera and Mariella 42; see also Moses and Wilson 62, 154, 170; Wilson 152-56, 160-62, 170-71, 189). While there were occasional references to him during the late 1980s and 1990s, including works by William Willard and Robert A. Warrior, they added little more than meager recognition of Montezuma as an intellectual and activist. (6) On the other hand, in 2003 Leon Speroff published Carlos Montezuma MD, a Yavapai American Hero: The Life and Times of an American Indian, 1866-1923. Even more than Iverson, Speroff created a truly epic portrayal of Montezuma from birth to death, including reflections on his legacy. With respect to Montezuma's work in Arizona, Speroff has done the most to fill in this part of his biography. Indeed, the reader is taken from Montezuma's initial return to Arizona in 1901, during which he learns that although part of his tribe was removed to the San Carlos Apache reservation, he is in fact a member of the Yavapai community, which erroneously had been labeled alternately as "Yavapai-Apache" and "Mohave-Apache." (7) Speroff then recounts Montezuma's emotional reconnection with his extended family at Fort McDowell, including people who remembered him and told him about the fate of his parents and siblings, all of whom were now lost to him (258-331). (8) Nevertheless, with his reclaimed Yavapai identity, Montezuma found new energy for a life-long ambition--to abolish the Indian Bureau. Thus, when Montezuma excoriated the Society of American Indians in his seminal speech "Let My People Go," one can easily imagine that he had his tribe and family foremost in mind. After belittling the SAI for doing little more than "the mere routine of shaking hands, appointing committees, listening to papers, hearing discussions, passing a few resolutions, electing officers, then reorganizing," Montezuma goes on to express what he sees as the genuine urgency facing them:
We are wards, we are not free! In a free country we are not free; our heritage is freedom, but we are not free. Wake up, Indians, all over America! We are hoodwinked, duped more and more every year; we are made to feel free when we are not. We are chained hand and foot, we stand helpless, innocently waiting for the fulfillment of promises, that will never be fulfilled, in the overwhelming great ocean of civilization. (Montezuma, "Let My People Go" 203, 204)
Such proclamations as these are typically analyzed within the context of Montezuma's assimilationist agenda as expressed in Wassaja, his self-published newsletter. Yet, in light of what has been documented about Montezuma's reconnection to the Fort McDowell community, it would be misguided to conclude that Montezuma had simply sold his soul for a middle-class life as a physician. More than anything else, Montezuma wanted the Fort McDowell Indians, not to mention all other Indians, to enjoy the freedom inherent to all, regardless of race or ethnicity. Indians, after all, should not be oppressed into believing that their only option is to be impoverished and uneducated wards of the federal government.
At this point it is time to introduce the Indian perspective on Montezuma's legacy. Specifically, George Webb (c 1893-1964) and Anna Moore Shaw (1898-1976), both of whom were Akimel Obdham, published books years after Montezuma seemed to be long forgotten that tell stories about him found nowhere in the scholarly record. In fact, the absence of Webb's and Shaw's books from the scholarly discourse on Montezuma--including Iverson and Speroff--represents a common problem in American Indian historiography: the recurrent omission of American Indian writers from topics they have often written about-frequently with firsthand knowledge.
Before Spicer invoked Montezuma's name in his 1962 epic historical narrative on the Southwest, Webb proffered a more modest portrayal in A Pima Remembers. In a chapter titled "The Old Ways" from his 1959 book, Webb recalls how the Apaches raided Pima fields for the abundant food they offered, during which it was common that some Pimas were killed defending their homes. Consequently, Webb writes, "the Pimas would follow the Apaches to their camp. In the fight the Pima would kill as many Apaches as they could, leaving the women and children" (30). It should be noted that both Yavapais and Apaches were regarded in Pima thinking as ohb, "enemies." This is not to say that the Pimas were unaware they were confronting two different tribes. Nonetheless, the customs regarding battle, casualties, and captives were fundamentally similar, including the adoption of captives: "We have now among our tribe Pimas who have Apache ancestors, descendants of people in that period," among whom Webb counts himself. "But no Pima warrior was allowed to take any Apache woman or child home unless he was capable of giving them a decent home." This principle applied to all captives: "Among the Pimas, it was always a dishonor to kill a woman or child. Sometimes, rather than leave the women and children orphaned, the Pima warriors would bring home an Apache woman or child" It is in this context that Montezuma's abduction is recounted.
As Webb relays Pima oral tradition, a warrior brought home a boy they called "Hejel-wi'ikam ... meaning 'Left Alone.'" However, instead of taking him to Florence, as others recounted, including Montezuma, where Carlo Gentile "purchased" him, Webb claims that Hejel-wi'ikam was given to "white people passing through the Pima village." At first rejecting the whites' request to take the little boy, they eventually agreed to terms. "This boy later became a noted man, the famous Doctor Montezuma, a great surgeon." Interestingly, Webb says nothing about Montezuma's illustrious career as a surgeon or Indian rights activist, let alone his fight against the Indian Bureau. Did Webb know anything about these distinctions or about Pimas calling themselves "Montezumas"? One can only imagine, since Webb's brief portrayal ends with seeing Montezuma on his deathbed:
Sometime ago I happened to be at Fort McDowell and one of the boys told me that the Doctor was there and very sick. He asked me if I would like to see him. I said I would like to see him very much. He took me to an olas-ki made of willow poles and brushed cover with a canvas. There was a passageway about four feet high, three feet wide and about three yards long. To get in, I had to get down on my hands and knees. There, on the dirt floor, was spread an expensive blanket on which the Doctor lay. To one side was a suitcase full of expensive clothes. The room was full of people. My visit was brief as the Doctor was on his last stage of life. A few days later he died.
Equally remarkable is how Webb segues into a story about a Pima who dream-prophesied an Apache raid. In fact, as Webb recounts, the Pima who foresaw this battle is nearly killed: "The spot where the Pimas and Apaches fought is now marked with good sized rocks, near the hills south of what is now the town of Maricopa." The story ends with an explanation of the purification ritual Pima warriors underwent after killing an enemy, in which the medicine man sang "to drive the evil spirits away" (30-33).
In 1974 Anna Moore Shaw concluded A Pima Past with "My Indian Hall of Fame," in which she pays homage to five men and one woman she most admired. In addition to William Thomas Moore, Russell "Big Chief" Moore, Dr. Roe Blaine Lewis, and Mae Fern Perkins, a well-known "Apache," Carlos Montezuma, is most distinguished. Shaw fondly recalls hosting the revered pan-Indian leader in her home until relatives took him to Fort McDowell. Montezuma, more than others, met Shaw's criterion of "cultural adjustment" meaning "those whose lives have shed special light on the process of bridging the gap between two cultures and living together in brotherly love" (237). In addition to remembering Montezuma's brief stay in her home, Shaw also retells his life story, which Montezuma famously told in countless speeches. Indeed, he was his own best example that Indians could adapt to and succeed in modern American society, like anyone else. Curiously, Shaw does not mention Montezuma's work on behalf of the Fort McDowell and Salt River reservations. Similar to Webb's account, her recollections conspicuously ignore the latter episode. Shaw instead emphasizes what she and her family experienced firsthand. Accordingly, A Pima Past is about a Pima family making the arduous transition into modern American life, when opportunities for Indians to succeed were few and far between. Yet, the Shaw family story validates the adaptations that they and other Pima necessarily pursued in a world not of their making, affirming by turns their decision to follow Montezuma's example, thus prevailing over social obstacles, especially the racial prejudice in their midst.
Shaw prefaces her account of Montezuma with an anecdote about her husband Ross, who worked for the American Railway Express Company. After acknowledging Ross's work ethic and his conscientiousness, she observes the special burden that he bore due to the fact that he was the only Indian employed: "The trunks he carried were as heavy as lead, but he was young and strong, and he never dropped one. His customers appreciated the assistance he gave them, and this helped ease the prejudice against Indians which was so prevalent in those early days." Nevertheless, Ross could not avoid prejudice altogether, which occurred when some customers did not want him attending to them. As Shaw confides: "Sometimes Ross would tell me stories of how he had encountered similar attitudes when he was defending his country in the war." Back in the Ross's neighborhood things were much different. The people who knew them well easily accepted and liked their Pima neighbors.
Montezuma entered the Shaw home by way of Anna's brother, Bill Moore, who was noteworthy for being a musician and living in Chicago, and who took in his nephew, Russell, who became a respected jazz trombonist who played with Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. Moore specifically knew Montezuma when he boarded in his home on Michigan Avenue. It was during this time when Montezuma contracted diabetes, "then an incurable disease." His "Masonic brothers" urged Montezuma to return to Arizona for his health, "where the mild climate might prolong his life" Thus, Moore arranged for Montezuma to stay at his sister's Phoenix home, creating excitement: "We had both heard so much about him since the time when we were children on the reservation. Now we were going to meet him in our home!"
Shaw is unfortunately elusive about what she and Ross heard about Montezuma as children. Instead, she recalls her nervous arrangements for her distinguished guest, who, upon his arrival, quickly set her mind at ease, telling her how much she reminded him of her brother Bill. The remainder of Shaw's account of Montezuma's stay is relatively brief, a mere nine pages, focusing exclusively on the five days "Dr Montezuma stayed in our home, waiting for his Apache relatives to take him to Fort McDowell." Montezuma constantly wonders when his relatives will come for him, as Shaw recalls. He was also concerned about seeing an "Apache medicine man" who "might be able to cure him." Shaw mentions the latter point matter-of-factly, noting: "Modern medicine had been able to do nothing for his illness." Equally significant is how Montezuma's ideas and opinions, as expressed in speeches like "Let My People Go," taught Shaw and her family how to live in a society that once nearly brought about their tribe's extinction. Striking a personal note, Shaw admits that her political awareness began to grow because of Montezuma's presence in her home:
Sometimes, when he was feeling good, Dr. Montezuma would sit with me and talk about the subject uppermost in his mind--the struggle for freedom for the American Indian. For years he had been giving speeches which urged the Indian to tolerate the white man's prejudice no longer. Now I was hearing those stirring phrases right in the living room of my home! (A Pima Past 160)
While it may not seem remarkable today to exclaim such principles, we have to remember there was a time when saying such things was uncommon. For many Indians, Montezuma was the first Indian they knew of who dared to accuse the Indian Bureau of racism. Although Shaw does not mention subscribing to Wassaja, she does give a lengthy quote from "Let My People Go," which she carefully notes: "Montezuma made before the Society of American Indians in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1915." In the passages Shaw quotes, Montezuma makes his familiar case that Indians are not free, that they are burdened with prejudice, and that the way out of this crisis is for Indians to reclaim their freedom and assert their place in American society. Emphatically, Montezuma implores his Indian audience to "make yourselves feel at home as one of the units in the big family of America." In an era defined by segregation, this is nothing short of astounding. Indeed, Shaw titles the chapter in which she tells this story "A Unit in the Family of America." Shaw, moreover, does not hesitate to credit Montezuma for empowering her husband to handle instances of prejudice at work, in addition to providing them the courage to move into "an all-white, 'restricted' neighborhood." Once Montezuma finally departed for Fort McDowell, Shaw discovered that her guest had left her "five silver dollars," to which Ross responded: "The white man says we Indians are not a competitive race. Well, I guess they are right, and I am glad of it! The Indian would rather share with his fellow man than to horde money and worldly goods. We cannot take it with us when death calls." Shaw thought that her husband had been so impressed with Montezuma that "he was starting to sound like him!" Thus, the Montezuman tradition takes root in another Pima mind (A Pima Past 162).
Shaw then recounts in the most economical of terms the funeral services held for Montezuma, which she and Ross attended. She even recalls a deathbed wish that they could not fulfill, which was to bury his remains "on top of Superstition Peak." Instead, Montezuma "was placed in the Fort McDowell cemetery, where a beautiful monument marks his grave" In the aftermath of her husband's demise, Mary Montezuma stayed with the Shaws over the winter, during which time she regaled her hosts with "her reminiscences of her famous husband." In fact, Shaw acknowledges that the biography appearing at the end of A Pima Past "has been based on these conversations with his widow after his death" (163). Shaw then delves further into an account of how Montezuma's words motivated them to move into a new home and neighborhood, where they enjoyed the company of Mexican and black neighbors, whom they and their children befriended, concluding with these reflections:
Throughout our lives this conviction [that minority people can climb the ladder of success by hard work] so eloquently preached by Dr. Carlos Montezuma, was proved out again and again. It was the philosophy we tried to instill in our children as they grew up in the white man's world, still encountering occasional examples of racial prejudice. At such times we would remind them of the words of the great Indian doctor: "To fight is to forget ourselves as Indians in the world. To think of one's self as different from the mass is unhealthy. Make good, deliver the goods, and convince the world by your character that the Indians are not as they have been misrepresented to be." Rod and Adeline [the Shaw's children], today completely at home in the big family of America, bear out the value of this teaching. (166)
At this point, we have clearly left Montezuma's legendary fight against the Indian Bureau far behind. Yet, the story that Shaw tells about her encounter with Montezuma is not only a poignant example of a Pima perspective on his life and work but also on his legacy and ongoing influence. Although it is true that there is no mention of the struggle for Yavapai land and water rights in A Pima Past, one can argue that this reflects two fundamental facts: first, by the time Montezuma entered the Shaw household, the Fort McDowell community had won its battle against the Indian Bureau, allowing Montezuma to concentrate more on his failing health; second, the Yavapai story simply was not Shaw's story to tell, as it belonged to the people who actually waged this campaign. Shaw's history focuses more so on the change and transition occurring in the Pima community, such as their conversion to Christianity, taking wage labor jobs, acquiring off-reservation homes, sending their children to school, and enlisting in the military.
Thus, in the spirit of the Progressive Era that Montezuma represented, Shaw's narrative may be read as a demonstration of how the author of "Let My People Go" and Wassaja not only advocated for Indian rights but also valued Indian unity. To forget oneself as "Indian in the world" means, among other things, to overcome those things that keep Indigenous communities divided and at odds with one another, thereby preventing them from pooling their resources to achieve common goals. Insofar as Montezuma thought that thinking of oneself as "different" was tantamount to accepting segregation, then this was problematic for both Indian-white and Indian-Indian relations alike. The Yavapais and Pimas did not want to share a reservation because of their historic rivalry; however, together they prevailed because Montezuma had the acumen to see that they shared a common interest against the Indian Bureau. For Shaw, Montezuma represented a new generation of Indian leader, one who recognized that the Indian struggle for rights was being waged in the battlefield of modern life, not against traditional rivals. Times had irreversibly changed. After the Pimas engaged in their last skirmish with the Apaches in the Bradshaw Mountains, it was their legendary leader Antonio Azul who had the foresight to see that the Pimas had entered a new epoch: "The white man had been pressuring Chief Antonio Azul to lay down his weapons and live peaceably with the Apache. The wise old chief could see that the old way of life was changing and agreed that it was time to stop the earth's rumbling and tremblings in war" (Shaw 63). (9)
Yet, Shaw does not fail to recognize that the new era of Indian unity was forged in a past defined by old rivalries and bloody conflicts. "When I gaze at the majestic Four Peaks from my Salt River home" Shaw writes, "the events of a long-ago saga parade before me" (238). Shaw then imagines Montezuma's legendary abduction by Pima raiders that is markedly different than the one recounted by Webb. Even though Shaw's account is based on what she learned from Montezuma's widow, Shaw interprets Montezuma's story from her own Akimel Obdham perspective, beginning with informing her readers that the Pima raiders were not "savages" preying upon their "enemies" but rather had sound reason for embarking on a campaign against the Apaches. The Pima village Shaw mentions without naming was located in Mazatzal, or Snaggle Teeth, which today is called Four Peaks. Unlike Montezuma's explanation, Shaw states that the Pimas were after something more important than the white man's money. (10) In contrast to the apprehensive village that Montezuma portrays in his autobiographical piece, Shaw imagines, on one side, an idyllic scene in which a loving Apache mother puts her children to bed; on the other side, however, the Pima raiders do not see the Apache village as idyllic:
The Pima braves who saw the Apache wickiups, which had grown up like mushrooms beside the flowing creek, were not so merry. Their hearts were filled with the bitterness of revenge for the painful personal losses and crop failures they had suffered due to Apache raids. As soon as they had found a moment free from their fields they had headed for these mountains, for they knew that the Apaches, just like the Pimas themselves, could not resist the temptation of mescal ripe for roasting. Surely this area would be the place to find a poorly protected party of Apache squaws and children out gathering the delicacy. Pima revenge would be quick and sure. (238-39)
Shaw then goes against the grain of most Western scholarly and popular accounts of Indian revenge when she emphasizes the conscientiousness with which captives were treated (239). (11) Echoing Webb, Shaw points out that Montezuma and his fellow captives "need not have feared for their lives, for it was Pima custom to adopt women and children captives. They were never tortured but treated with all possible kindness." Yet, as Webb pointed out earlier, one could bring home captives only if they could be supported. She writes, "However, these were days of great poverty for the Indians" Under these circumstances captives could not be taken home--in which case, Montezuma, like so many others, was sold and the money used "to provide for [the captor's] own family."
After describing his purchase by "Charles Gentile" in Florence, Arizona, which the Pima called "S-auppagk (Many Cottonwood Trees)." Shaw gives a sentimental account of Montezuma's transformative journey back East, where he became a formidable proponent of Indian rights. Leaving tribal rivalry and the reservation hardships behind, Shaw narrates a respectful portrayal of Montezuma's destiny of becoming a renowned Indian leader. However, rather than lionizing his accomplishments as a physician, working first for the Indian Bureau (which gave him his first exposure to reservation conditions), then for the Carlisle Indian School (where he met Richard H. Pratt, who influenced his political ideals), Shaw turns her attention to Montezuma's frequent visits to his Yavapai homeland, where he gave "his speeches and visit[ed] with his cousins, his mother's nephews, Charley and George Dickens of Fort McDowell. These trips must have awakened strong emotions in the doctor." Then, in the spirit of peace and unity, Shaw shares the following tale:
Once he told me how he used his first savings to return to Sacaton just to meet his Pima captor. He called for a meeting, but the Indian warriors eyed him suspiciously. No one wanted to admit the deed for fear Montezuma would seek revenge. The doctor tried to convince the braves that he held no rancor. He only wanted to thank his captor for doing him a good deed; without him he would still be an uneducated person on the reservation.
Shaw concludes her story with how an "old warrior timidly ... approached Montezuma. The doctor shook his hand, and the old man smiled." Over time, the Pima came to like and respect Montezuma a great deal, regarding him as "kind and generous ... with no bitterness in his heart for anyone." Then, adding nuance to the stories referred to above about Montezuma's influence on the Pimas and Papagos, Shaw claims that her husband Ross remembered "a group of Salt River old men who called themselves 'Montezuma's Friends,' so great was their respect for this educated Indian" (239, 243-44).
Despite Montezuma being Yavapai, an ohb, the source of the Pimas' respect for him came from seeing another Indian show the kind of courage in the face of adversity that he showed them. Citing his 1915 speech again, Shaw summarizes the outrage Montezuma felt when advised not to return to Chicago, lest he face the blatant racism that surely awaited him. Montezuma took this as a challenge. Having resigned his Carlisle appointment, Montezuma in 1896 "returned to Chicago to crusade for his cause and to set an example for his people." Of course, as has been documented repeatedly, including by Iverson (31-45) and Speroff (175-205), Montezuma succeeded. Shaw then enumerates brief stories about Montezuma's generosity, especially toward the poor, who often could not pay him for his medical services. Tactfully omitting his tumultuous relationship with Gertrude Bonnin (better known as Zitkala-Sa), Shaw happily describes how Montezuma met his wife-to-be and the happy home they made together.
As Shaw emphasizes, though, "his active social life did not keep Carlos Montezuma from crusading for his people.... Freeing the American Indian from the bonds of prejudice was always uppermost in his mind." Shaw illustrates Montezuma's unwavering commitment with a meeting held at Lehi, Arizona, where he spoke to a group of Pima "with Lancisco Hill as interpreter. 'Get rid of the yoke that weighs you from rising to a higher plane!' he invoked his brothers." The risks that Montezuma took because of his activism are underscored. Because the BIA agent at Lehi did not approve of what Montezuma was telling the Indians under his charge, he ordered the Indian police to break up the meeting. "The officer threatened to arrest the listeners and throw them in jail; then he seized Dr. Montezuma and escorted him to the outskirts of the reservation." Montezuma reacted to this treatment with aplomb (246; see also Iverson 164-65).
Shaw's biographical sketch concludes with the dignified way in which Montezuma faced his imminent demise, returning to his Yavapai homeland. "During the time he lay dying, many Indians came to see the revered surgeon who had been such an outstanding leader of his people," including, as noted, the author of A Pima Remembers. Finally, in the spirit of brotherhood inspired by Montezuma's life and words, Shaw honors his memory by recognizing the lasting influence he left in the hearts and minds of those who knew him: "Carlos Montezuma spent most of his life in the white man's world, but his heart was always with his people. He came home to us in his dying days, and it was to us that he uttered his last inspiring words: 'Our hearts must throb with love, our souls must reach to God to guide us. In behalf of my people, with the spirit of Moses I ask, "Let my people go!""' (247-48).
Sadly, since Shaw's encounter with Montezuma occurred during his last days, we do not have Montezuma's own final reflections on his life's work, let alone his impressions of the Shaws (see Martinez 203-12). For Pima and Yavapai alike, though, Montezuma's lasting legacy is not just seen in his storied opposition to the Indian Bureau, but in something more essential to their existence as tribes. As observed above, both tribes were distressed at the idea of the Yavapais being forcibly removed to the Pima reservation, due in part to the fact that many still remembered their rivalry as living history, preserved in their respective oral traditions. Consequently, when Montezuma prevented the Indian Bureau from carrying out the injustice of removing the Yavapais to Salt River, not only were two rival tribes spared the awkward situation of sharing a reservation, but more importantly they were allowed to keep a vital part of their worlds in balance--their connection to their homelands. While both tribes went on to face other challenges to their sovereignty and well-being, they could now do so from a place of power, where they could look around them, see the mountains named in their Creation Stories, and remember who they are (see Sheridan 255-86).
Braatz, Timothy. Surviving Conquest: A History of the Yavapai Peoples. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2007. Print.
Chamberlain, Sue Abbey. "The Fort McDowell Indian Reservation: Water Rights and Indian Removal, 1910-1930." Journal of the West 14.4 (1975): 27=34. Print.
Coffeen, William R. "The Effects of the Central Arizona Project on the Fort McDowell Indian Community." Ethnohistory 19.4 (1972): 345-77. Print.
Cook, Charles H., and Isaac T. Whittmore. Among the Pima; or, The Mission to the Pima and Maricopa Indians. Albany: Ladies' Union Mission School Assn., 1893. Print.
DeJong, David H. "Forced to Abandon Their Farms: Water Deprivation and Starvation among the Gila River Pima, 1892-1904." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 28.3 (2004): 29-56. Print.
--. '"Good Samaritans of the Desert': The Pima-Maricopa Villages as Described in California Emigrant Journals, 1846-1852." Journal of the Southwest 47.3 (2005): 457-96. Print.
--. "'Left High and Dry': Federal Land Policies and Pima Agriculture, 1860-1910." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 33.1 (2009): 23-45. Print.
Edmunds, R. David. The New Warriors: Native American Leaders since 1900. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2001. Print.
Iverson, Peter. Carlos Montezuma and the Changing World of American Indians. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1982. Print.
Hertzberg, Hazel W. The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1971. Print.
Khera, Sigrid, and Patricia S. Mariella. "Yavapai." Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 10: Southwest. Ed. Alfonso Ortiz. Washington PC: Smithsonian Institution, 1983. 38-54. Print.
Liberty, Margot, ed. American Indian Intellectuals of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2002. Print.
Martinez, David, ed. The American Indian Intellectual Tradition: An Anthology of Writings from 1772 to 1972. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2011. Print.
Montezuma, Carlos. "The Indian of Yesterday: The Early Life of Dr. Carlos Montezuma Written by Himself." Chicago: Published for the National Christian Women's Temperance Union, 1888. Print.
--. "The Indian Problem from an Indian's Standpoint." United States Commissioner of Education. Annual Reports of the Department of Interior for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1897. Report of the Commissioner of Education, Vol. 2 Containing Parts II and III. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1898: 1521. Print.
--. "Let My People Go." Self-published pamphlet. Chicago: 1915. Rpt. in The American Indian Intellectual Tradition: An Anthology of Writings from 1772 to 1972. Ed. David Martinez. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2011. 203-12. Print.
--. "Light on the Indian Situation." Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians 1.1 (19x3): 50-55. Print.
Moses, L. G., and Raymond Wilson, eds. Indian Lives: Essays on Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Native American Leaders. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1985. Print.
Russell, Frank. The Pima Indians: Re-edition with Introduction, Citation Sources, and Bibliography by Bernard L. Fontana. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1975. Print.
Shaw, Anna Moore. A Pima Past. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1974. Print.
Sheridan, Thomas E. "The Other Arizona" Journal of the Southwest 36.3 (1994): 255-86. Print.
Speroff, Leon. Carlos Montezuma MD, A Yavapai American Hero: The Life and Times of an American Indian, 1866-1923. Portland: Arnica, 2003. Print.
Spicer, Edward H. Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico, and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533-1960. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1962. Print.
Trennert, Robert A. "John H. Stout and the Grant Peace Policy among the Pimas." Journal of the Southwest 28.1 (1986): 45-68. Print.
Webb, George. A Pima Remembers. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1959. Print.
Wilson, Raymond. Ohiyesa: Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1983. Print.
(1.) For comparison, see Montezuma, "The Indian Problem from an Indian's Standpoint."
(2.) Gerhard Peters, "Theodore Roosevelt, Executive Order, 1903," The American Presidency Project (1999-2009), Executive Order of 15 Sept. 1903, http://www .presidency.ucsb.edu/index.php.
(3.) The "monthly magazine" is a reference to Montezuma's self-published newsletter, Wassaja.
(4.) Hertzberg is referencing Spicer's work, in which the "tribal deity" was I'itoi, an O'odham cultural hero.
(5.) Before the appearance of Iverson's seminal biography, the 1970s ended with Montezuma completely overlooked in an essay collection by Margot Liberty.
(6.) Montezuma is overlooked in R. David Edmunds, The New Warriors. Timothy Braatz opens his 2007 Yavapai history, Surviving Conquest, with an account of Montezuma's life narrative but scarcely mentions his struggle against the Indian Bureau on behalf of Fort McDowell.
(7.) For a Yavapai synonymy, see Khera and Mariella 53.
(8.) Speroff visited the Fort McDowell Yavapai Reservation for his research, during which he interviewed some of Montezuma's descendants and other community members. Thus, one can claim that Speroff's emphasis on Montezuma's renewed kinship ties, similar to Spicer's, exposed his research findings to how the Yavapai Indian community remembers Montezuma, as opposed to relying only on the archival record.
(9.) For more on Antonio Azul, see Cook and Whittmore. See also Trennert; and DeJong, "Forced to Abandon Their Farms" '"Good Samaritans of the Desert,'" and '"Left High and Dry.'"
(10.) For Montezuma's own account of his well-known abduction by Pima raiders, see Carlos Montezuma, "The Indian of Yesterday."
(11.) For more on how Pima treated captives and a note on Montezuma's capture recorded on a history stick, see Russell 55, 197.
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|Title Annotation:||Plank 5|
|Publication:||The American Indian Quarterly|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2013|
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