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Tijerina and the Courthouse Raid by Peter Nabokov

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Albuquerque, NM. : University of New Mexico Press, 1969. First edition. Hardcover. 285 pages ; 23 cm. $6.95 dust jacket with a few rips around the dust jacket edges. Lean to spine. Cigarette odor within the pages. 5 pages in this book have some margin notes and underline. Otherwise, a good copy overall.


Tijerina and the Courthouse Raid by Peter Nabokov

The celebrated raid on the courthouse at Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, catapulted Reies Lopez Tijerina and his militant Spanish-American minority movement, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes, onto the front pages of newspapers throughout the United States and even in Europe in June 1967. It was a wild shooting attack by a band of Spanish-American villagers who seized and held the courthouse for two hours. They escaped with two hostages, pursued by the men, horses, cars, troop carriers, tanks and helicopters of the state police, the National Guard, and the Jicarilla Apache police—the biggest manhunt in the state's history. An event straight out of the Old West, it was also part of the militant minority protest sweeping the United States today—the climax of a century of political, economic, and cultural resentment.

This book is a first-hand chronicle of the raid, the conflicts leading up to it, and its aftermath. As a newspaper reporter the author was constantly on the scene and sometimes involved in the action itself. He knew most of the principal characters personally, and he tells much of the story in their own words. It is the tale of a primitive rebel, Tijerina, a strange backwoods evangelist with a charismatic appeal who stirred up a wave of agitation, a resurgence of cultural and racial pride, which culminated in the raid. Turning political activist and demanding that the United States give back huge sections of the southwest to the present descendants of the original Spanish colonists, Tijerina then led the Alianza into the new arena of nationwide social protest, notably in the Poor People's Campaign of 1968. Brought to trial for the courthouse raid in the winter of 1968-69, he characteristically conducted his own defense and was acquitted.

A fascinating story of intrigue and insurgency in the vast mountain wilds of the southwest, the book is also accurate reportorial history of a serious political conflict in the genre of Tad Szulc's Dominican Diary.

PETER NABOKOV is a young journalist and freelance writer who lives in California. At the time of the Courthouse Raid he was on the staff of the Santa Fe New Mexican, where he won first prizes for reporting and editorial writing from the New Mexico Press Association, and where he won the confidence of Reies Tijerina. He has since written for the Washington Post and the New York Times Magazine. He now divides his time between a novel and a history of U.S.-Indian relations as seen through Indian eyes. He has worked on Navajo, Sioux, and Crow reservations and is a research associate of the Museum of the American Indian in New York. He attended Ste John's College, Annapolis, and graduated from Columbia University. He is the author of a previous book, Two Leggings: The Making of a Crow Warrior.