About Wassaja Carlos Montezuma

Carlos Montezuma, 1866-1923

Wassaja was how the man who became known to the world as “Carlos Montezuma” began his life, and it would become the way in which his Yavapai family and community remember him today at Fort McDowell. As Carlos Montezuma, MD, however, enjoyed recalling for his many audiences as an Indian rights activist, as a young Yavapai boy, Wassaja was abducted by “Pima scouts” in a raid that devastated his family and resulted in his exile, first to New York, then to Chicago, where he graduated from medical school. Author of numerous articles, many of which were published in the monthly Wassaja newsletter, which Montezuma self-published, Montezuma fought passionately to liberate all American Indians from the oppressive reign of the Indian Bureau, which ruled the reservation system with an iron hand, one that it frequently used to violate Indian land and water rights, not to mention civil liberties, with impunity. But fight he did. And win he did. In the end, because of Wassaja’s selfless dedication to Indian rights, most importantly the Yavapai, he set an example for us all. Despite the odds, Indigenous people can fight against government corruption and its abuses of power and prevail. We are still here to testify to this truth.

David Martínez (Akimel O’odham/Hia-Ced O’odham/Mexican) is a professor of American Indian and Transborder studies at Arizona State University. Author of several books and articles in American Indian intellectual history and O’odham studies, Martínez most recent publications include My Heart Is Bound Up with Them: How Carlos Montezuma Became the Voice of a Generation (University of Arizona Press, 2023) and Sand People and Yellow Fever: O'odham Himdag, Arizona Territory, Calendar Sticks, and Resistance, 1851–1860 (Journal of Arizona History, Summer, 2023).

Conversation with ASU Professor David Martínez about his book, “My Heart Is Bound Up with Them: How Carlos Montezuma Became the Voice of a Generation.”

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