Wild Justice by Jake Page
: The People of Geronimo vs. the Untited States

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In the long, anguished history of the American Indian, the events comprising the resistance of the Chiricahua Apaches against European encroachment and their subsequent punishment at the hands of the United States were the most heroic, violent, expensive . . . and tragic. As settlers swarmed into the Southwest, the Apaches were forced oV their ancestral lands. Led by the infamous warrior Geronimo and outnumbered by five hundred to one, a small group of renegade Apaches waged a fierce rebellion against the U.S. Army for more than a year. Finally surrendering in 1886, Geronimo and the rest of the Chiricahuas--including those who didn't participate in the insurrection and even those who actively assisted the Army--were held as prisoners of war for twenty-three years in far-off Florida, Alabama, and, later, Oklahoma.

After World War II, Congress felt obliged to establish a forum specifically to hear and remedy the complaints of Indian tribes against the United States, and, in 1947, Harry S. Truman signed into law the Indian Claims Commission. Focusing on the unique claims of the Chiricahua Apaches, Wild Justice examines the personalities involved in and decisions made by this extraordinary tribunal--the first time any national government established a court to redress grievances of its native people--and the efforts made by hundreds of other tribes to gain restitution.

Jake Page, who has written extensively on the South-west Indians, and Michael Lieder, a legal scholar, bring to light this little-known saga in American history. The Chiricahua were represented by an unlikely pair of lawyers: Israel Weissbrodt, born to illiterate Jewish emigrants from Poland, educated at Columbia University, and trained by William O. Douglas; and David Cobb, a Mayflower descendant and Harvard graduate. When the government misdated the taking of the Apache lands and left an opening for legal wrangling, this odd couple pounced. The result was a $22 million settlement, forty times what the tribe had asked for--a spectacular sum in total, but, divided among several thousand Apaches, it proved slim atonement, and it was at best a bittersweet victory.

Rather than negotiating the Indian claims and considering present needs, the United States insisted on battling over ancient grievances in the inherently adversarial Anglo-American legal system, which was incapable of grasping the Indians' way of life. The very concept of land ownership was foreign to the Indians, but payment to the tribes for loss of acreage was all the legal system could muster in recompense for decades of injustice. The destruction of religion, tribal sovereignty, and whole cultures remained unaddressed, and these issues plague U.S./Indian affairs to this day.

If "our treatment of Indians reflects the rise and fall of our democratic faith,"  Wild Justice is the remarkable history of that failure and the unbridgeable legal and cultural chasm at its heart.

About Jake Page

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Jake Page is a former editor of both Natural History and Smithsonian magazines and author of numerous magazine articles and books on topics related to American Indian history, culture, and art. With his wife, Susanne, he produced the classic Hopi, Navajo, and Field Guide to Southwestern Indian Arts and Crafts and edited Sacred Lands of Indian America. Page lives in New Mexico's Indian Country.
Published July 29, 1997 by Random House. 318 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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After the cops dig up nine tortured bodies on the property, Cardoni is imprisoned without bail, even though he charmlessly insists that he's innocent and that his estranged wife, St. Francis surgical resident Justine Castle, must be framing him.

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Finally, in the late 1970s, the government awarded the Chiricahuas $22 million, ``the seventh-largest award issued by the Commission in an aboriginal land claim,'' more than 40 times the sum the Chiricahuas sought-- but a far smaller settlement, in the authors' view, than they deserved.

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Publishers Weekly

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In the course of detailing this one legal battle, however, the authors also review briefly the history of U.S.-Indian relations since the mid-19th century, the imprisonment of the Chiricahuas after the defeat of Geronimo in the 1880s, the Washington maneuvering that established the Commission and...

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“We are determined to fight back against the wave of crime and intimidation currently being directly against the elderly…” This statement leads to a newspaper report stating, “…the current bombing campaign is being masterminded…by our own frail elderly citizens.” Watching her family disintegrat...

Nov 20 2008 | Read Full Review of Wild Justice:: The People of ...


The people of Geronimo are also the people of Mangas Coloradas, Cochise, Victorio and Juh, of course.

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Wild Justice:: The People of ...


Stride's former Army commander, Kingston Parker (Sam Wanamaker) puts the task force resources at his disposal and, in another daring rescue, Stride snatches his daughter from the jaws of the terrorists.

May 11 1993 | Read Full Review of Wild Justice:: The People of ...

Word of the Nerd

The international release of ebook WILD JUSTICE, edited by Ellen Datlow, and published by Ashe Tree Press collects 18 stories of revenge.

Feb 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Wild Justice:: The People of ...

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