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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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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.


“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

"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

"An exceptionally well-written and thoroughly researched book, this is a captivating and unique examination of Native American voting rights in the Southwest. It is the first comparative study of its kind and closes a major historical gap."--John L. Kessell, University of New Mexico

"This work touches on a number of fundamental issues relating to Native Americans and the history of colonialism, citizenship, and democracy over the course of more than three hundred years. It is an ambitious, well-researched book, and Crandall is able to tell this story with clarity and nuance."--Andrés Reséndez, University of California, Davis

“This remarkable book narrates the tumultuous transformations in Indigenous governance within the Arizona-Sonora and New Mexico area that took place in dialogue with Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Focusing on Indigenous electoral politics and the complexity of citizenship at the borderlands, Maurice Crandall turns a keen eye toward how Indigenous communities’ complex resistance and embrace of the franchise allowed them to retain Indigenous sovereignty. Crandall illuminates their steadfast preservation of Native nationhood."--Jean M. O'Brien, University of Minnesota