American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals, 1826-1924 - Vol. 1

By Daniel F. Littlefield Jr.; James W. Parins | Go to book overview
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gists, psychologists, archeologists, artists, and novelists." He attacked as well the "Friends of the Indian," paternalistic groups such as the Society of American Indians, the Mohonk Conferences, and the Indian Rights Association because they had "met, met, and talked, talked" and gotten nowhere. While Montezuma was instrumental in the founding of the Society of American Indians, he determined that the society had come under the influence of the Indian Bureau almost from its inception. Over the years, Montezuma waged many a battle with the group, and especially with two of its leaders, Arthur C. Parker and Sherman Coolidge. Their tendency to work within the system--and thus with the Office of Indian Affairs--outraged Montezuma. 2

Montezuma called for the immediate abolition of the Indian Bureau and for citizenship for all Indians. His main contention was that the people could and must take care of themselves. They needed to throw off the shackles of imperialism if they were to survive. He was also very vocal on specific issues such as the use of Indian Police to subdue the Pimas at the Sacaton, Arizona, Agency who were protesting land allotments and the removal of the Mojave-Apaches from Camp McDowell to Salt River. He called the Curtis Bill "makeshift" and declared it was not the answer to the Indian's problems as its proponents claimed. Eventually, the Society of American Indians came around to Montezuma's position as did other organizations, such as Red Fox's Tipi Order of America.

Some of Wassaja's most effective columns were those in which Montezuma and a persona engaged in a conversation of a topic of interest. The result is a sort of Socratic dialog in which Montezuma's position is clearly and effectively communicated. Other features included a column called "Sledge Hammer Taps," often signed by "Junius" who is described as "a restricted Bureau-governed Indian but not a Bureau-educated Indian." The positions taken by this columnist are, of course, identical to Montezuma's.

Montezuma's last fight was to prevent Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells from forcing the Yavapais to remove from the Fort McDowell Reservation to the Salt River. Montezuma was instrumental in persuading the people to resist the Bureau and its attempts to push them from their land with its valuable water rights. In 1922, Montezuma left Chicago and traveled to McDowell. Although suffering from tuberculosis, he refused to enter a sanitarium; instead, he lived on the reservation in a brush shelter built by his friends until his death in January, 1923. 3

His Wassaja was the most anti-government Indian publication to that date.


Notes
1.
Montezuma's life and career have received much scholarly attention in recent years. Of particular use in preparing this biographical sketch have been Peter Iverson, "Carlos Montezuma," in R. David Edmunds (ed.), American Indian Leaders: Studies in Diversity ( Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980), 206-220; Iverson, "Carlos Montezuma and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Community," The Journal of Arizona History, 22 (Winter, 1981), 415-428; Iverson, Carlos Montezuma and the ChangingWorld of American Indians

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