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These People Have Always Been a Republic

Indigenous Electorates in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1598–1912

By Maurice S. Crandall

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 5 maps

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5266-5
    Published: November 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5265-8
    Published: November 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5267-2
    Published: September 2019

David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History

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Awards & distinctions

2020 Caughey Western History Association Prize, Western History Association

2020 David J. Weber-Clements Prize, Western History Association

Honorable Mention, 2020 Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Book Award, American Society for Ethnohistory

2020 Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association

Spanning three hundred years and the colonial regimes of Spain, Mexico, and the United States, Maurice S. Crandall’s sweeping history of Native American political rights in what is now New Mexico, Arizona, and Sonora demonstrates how Indigenous communities implemented, subverted, rejected, and indigenized colonial ideologies of democracy, both to accommodate and to oppose colonial power.

Focusing on four groups--Pueblos in New Mexico, Hopis in northern Arizona, and Tohono O'odhams and Yaquis in Arizona/Sonora--Crandall reveals the ways Indigenous peoples absorbed and adapted colonially imposed forms of politics to exercise sovereignty based on localized political, economic, and social needs. Using sources that include oral histories and multinational archives, this book allows us to compare Spanish, Mexican, and American conceptions of Indian citizenship, and adds to our understanding of the centuries-long struggle of Indigenous groups to assert their sovereignty in the face of settler colonial rule.

Published with support provided by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas

About the Author

Maurice S. Crandall (Yavapai-Apache Nation) is assistant professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College.
For more information about Maurice S. Crandall, visit the Author Page.


“A sweeping and imaginative work spanning four centuries. . . . Crandall not only sheds light on the past and enduring nature of Indigenous republics, consensus democracy, and community-based political authority but argues that these structures can perhaps serve as effective templates to stave off the climate of political cynicism and paralysis shaking democracies throughout the Americas today.”--Hispanic American Historical Review

“Focusing on four major Native American groups—Pueblos, Hopis, Yaquis, and Tohono O’odham—in New Mexico and Arizona/Sonora, Crandall . . . examines the ways in which indigenous peoples historically interacted with colonial politics in the American Southwest. . . . A welcome addition to borderlands history and the study of indigenous groups under colonization.”--CHOICE

“In a broad study spanning centuries, borders, and nations, Maurice Crandall focuses on the constant political sovereignty expressed by Native Nations during colonization. . . . His argument reimagines how we define Native American politics and power, not through the lens of a colonial government but through their own political practices.”--Western Historical Quarterly

“Ambitious, wide-ranging, and original. . . . The work explores more than three hundred years of political thought and action among four Indigenous peoples—Rio Grande Pueblos, Hopis, Tohono O’odhams, and Yaquis—and their determination to limit the intrusion of external power, politics, and authority on community bodies, literally and figuratively.”--New Mexico Historical Review

"Deeply researched and engaging. . . . Crandall offers a nuanced narrative that privileges Indigenous accounts and centers his analysis in Indigenous political ideologies deeply rooted in sacred stories."--Ethnohistory

"A U.S.-centric view of Native political life is upended in this innovative book that is rooted in the perspective of Pueblo, Hopi, Yaqui, and Tohono O’odham villagers across colonial eras. The vitality and dynamism of these communities’ enduring commitment to sovereign integrity shines through a compelling narrative detailing colonial agendas of genocide, dispossession, missionization, allotment, schooling, and administration for ‘civilization’ that largely sidestepped or thwarted full Native access to the rights of citizenship."--Tsianina Lomawaima, Arizona State University