Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Am Not the Only Smart Ass in My Family

Which is something that comforts me and hardly anyone else. My cousin, is an attorney for our nation. He had every opportunity to take his degrees (U of A/Harvard Law) and cash in big time. He chose to come back to the rez and work for our people. His main reasoning was that as a gay man he gets a lot less shit (like, none) for that on the rez. He also enjoys taking on dumbass county, state, and federal attorneys and turning them green.

He called me this afternoon to tell me about a conference he had today. The Apache wars in Arizona were not all that long ago. They were a vicious and brutal time in the history of our state. During that turmoil a lot of things like reservation boundries and treaty issues that were supposed to be decided law went up for grabs to what ever hand could take and hold them.

He has been trying to negotiate with one rancher who claims title to a large section of land that my cousin feels clearly was granted to the Apache in 1845, and again, at Geronimo's first surrender. The rancher is claiming all kinds of things, but mostly it comes down to "squatter's rights." Here is the exchange that took place this afternoon as related by my cousin, the brilliant attorney.


"My family has been on this land ranching for over one hundred and thirty years!"

My Cousin

"Then you understand our problem exactly. Good."

Big Brass Blog


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your cousin's sense of when to execute the bitchslap is most noteworthy......


- oddjob (who is delighted to learn your cousin has made the life choices he has)

9:55 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

yes, he is a true master of that art. and i have been delighted with him for a long, long time. he's one of the finest people i have ever known.

10:28 PM  
Blogger J. Goff said...


Though, this rancher sounds like one of those uber-patriot-stains. The country's history is fucking shameful.

6:14 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Yes, brilliant is the only appropriate word here.

6:32 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Actually the rancher is a pretty decent fellow himself. The relations between his family and the Apache have been long and mutually beneficial. The main issue at this moment is that he is planning to sell off large chunks of the land for development. My cousin has every intention of trying to find a soloution to this that is not only within the law, but fair. The rancher is right, his family has been there for a long time. That does count for something. There are wells that have been dug, buildings erected, many improvements that need to be compensated fairly. The rancher does need to recognise that his family has lived with the consent of the Apache, and that consent being given was a large foundation of both his family's prosperity and their overall success. He needs to remember that if the Apache had decided one hundred thirty years ago that his family were not good neighbors then history would have been written far more tragically. Issues like this tend to be complex and trying to reach a place of equity and balance can be tricky.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally OT, but I'm curious as to what the Minstrel Boy makes of this story?

An admiral??

- oddjob

3:24 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

It's been done before. A brief overview of his resumé shows that he was on Clark's staff during the operations in the Balkans. He's a flyboy (which makes him always suspect to us grunts), but he flew A6's in Viet Nam (those guys were the grunts of the air wing). He looks like he's had a pretty decent mix of staff and operational billets. It might also be that the army/marine elements are feeling especially snakebit and a tad gunshy by this stage of the game. Central commands are often given to outside services. Even MacArthur was technically a subordinate to Nimitz during WWII (of course Chet was prone to giving orders like "Go kick their asses Doug, tell me what you need and I'll get it for you.") It's something that will either work very well, or fall directly on its ass. If he can bring that operational elán and technical prowess that was shown in Kosovo to the Iraq theater then I say "sic 'em fang.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it runs through family bloodlines,
as illustrated,
it is known as
invitro assismarticus.

For real.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Pogo said...

MB, I like the way your cousin thinks.

1:54 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the things that consistently impresses me about his work as an attorney is that he considers the concepts of fairness and justice along with his finer points of law. he has stated for the record that absent an attempt at sale there would be no action coming from our end. we would be perfectly happy to have these people, in that place doing the same things they have done for one hundred thirty years. but the issue of sale raises the issue of title. we're hoping that something equitable can be arranged so that everyone walks away feeling that they have been dealt with fairly. if it is an issue of money alone, we have a pretty solvent nation now. it's good that this is a nation which well remembers some famine times where this man's family would cut cattle from their herd to feed people who were starving. nobody wants them to be cut out and left with nothing. one of my cousins biggest joys as an attorney is to straighten out the tangled threads of the past and weave something beautiful for our time. but the artistry of taking the other side's main defense and adopting it as your position is both deft and clever. they are very lucky that he also once said to me "courtrooms are for losers. if you end up there it's because your attorney didn't do his job." in this case a courtroom would simply declare for us and leave the family out in the cold. that might be legal but it wouldn't be right.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your cousin sounds like what I would truly define as a "man" (in the way that the Jews would use the term "mensch"). There isn't a finer human way to be.

- oddjob

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right oddjob.
I believe Justice and fairness are things that
have been in short supply and sorely missed.
It makes me feel hopeful when I hear of
folk with outstanding humanity.
I've missed feeling hopeful.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..considers the concept of fairness and justice ....

Sounds like an Indan who will be remembered by The People ....

Peter Aleshire's Cochise "The Life and Times of the Great Apache Chief" seemed a well researched, well documented record of the area and events of those times, about 130 years ago ...

10:11 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

You're right Amish, that is one of the better books about the apache. there is also one called Cochise by Edward Sweeney which I think is the single best one out there about him. The Apaches - - Eagles of the Southwest by Donald Worcester is also outstanding. It deals mainly with the Chiricauau outbreaks from a mostly even handed outlook. For balance though (this was not all that long ago and feelings can still be quite hard) You can read Lt. Gatewood's perspective in Geronimo Campaign, In The Days of Victorio Eve Ball chonicles from the Apache perspective of things. There's even some extra information aobut Lozen, Victorio's sister, a shaman, chief, and warrior of great reputation. In Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts you get a pretty unvarnished view of what it took to survive out here during that time. Sieber was quite fond of the Apache (he liked them better than his own people) but he fought, for his people with courage and stalwart devotion (if not always honor and ethics). There's a Geronimo autobiography out there, but it was translated from Apache to Spanish to English at a time when Geronimo was worried that there might be more legal charges being filed. It's more of a defendant's view than a history.

My cousin, has always been loved and respected by the people. I am certain that honors will follow. He doesn't care much about that. That's one the things I like most about him.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...He doesn't care much about that. ..

Loved and respected now is the greatest honor that may be given ...

7:19 AM  

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