Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona

By Eric V. Meeks | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
THE INDIAN NEW DEAL AND
THE POLITICS OF THE TRIBE

In 1902 Peter Blaine was born to a Tohono O'odham mother and a mestizo father (part O'odham) in South Tucson. In the early years of his life, his mother, like many other urban O'odham women, supported her family by cleaning houses. When Blaine was six his mother died, and he moved into the home of his aunt Josefa and her husband, a Yaqui. He grew up speaking both Yaqui and Spanish, only later becoming fluent in the O'odham language his mother had spoken. In his memoir he recalled the neighborhood he was born in thus: “In the scattered houses, not only were there Papagos, but also Yaqui and Mexican families. The Spanish word barrio was used to describe those houses south of 17th Street. No whites lived there, just a mixture of Mexicans and Indians.” From an early age, his environment and his identity were clearly multicultural, as illustrated by his trilingualism, his interethnic family, and his intimate ties to the diverse peoples of Tucson and southern Arizona.1

Eventually, Blaine moved from the multiethnic barrios of Tucson to the relatively homogeneous Tohono O'odham reservation at San Xavier. There he came to see himself unequivocally as Papago rather than Yaqui or Mexican. Still, this was a localized identity, and his sense of himself as a member of a tribe was tenuous. Blaine retained close ties to Tucson while he moved from job to job around southern Arizona. In the latter half of the 1920s he served as the “delegate … for the Mexican people” on the Tucson Trades Council—a position he obtained through his involvement with the construction workers' union. Only during the 1930s, when he began to work with the Indian branch of the Forest Service, a centerpiece of the Indian New Deal, did Blaine's conception of belonging to a larger tribal community solidify.2

-127-

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Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Desert Empire 15
  • Chapter 2 - From Noble Savage to Second-Class Citizen 44
  • Chapter 3 - Crossing Borders 71
  • Chapter 4 - Defining the White Citizen-Worker 98
  • Chapter 5 - The Indian New Deal and the Politics of the Tribe 127
  • Chapter 6 - Shadows in the Sun Belt 155
  • Chapter 7 - The Chicano Movement and Cultural Citizenship 180
  • Chapter 8 - Villages, Tribes, and Nations 211
  • Conclusion - Borders Old and New 241
  • Notes 249
  • Selected Bibliography 301
  • Index 313
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