‘Legacy of Conquest’: a military fort on the Camino Real

Barracks, Fort Selton, Radium Springs, New Mexico / CLAIRE O’BRIEN 2012

  PREVIEW:    A great historian, Patricia Limerick, characterized the political culture of the American West in particular, and the United States in general, as a “legacy of conquest”. All the issues, from passionate to pragmatic, that informed the conquest of the West are, she wrote ” back on the streets and looking for trouble’. *

Tune into Electrica in the Desert tomorrow for a great look at a crumbling 140 – year-old adobe military fort built by African-American soldiers and the Latino people recruited and/or drafted to help them do it. The Colored Regiments were recently enslaved Civil War heros, termed ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ by the Apache peoples they had been sent to subdue.

So, be here tomorrow – or we’ll come looking for you.

* Limerick, Patricia.  Legacy of Conquest


Fort Dodge Jail

Fort Dodge Jail (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Less than a week after I wrote this story, I was subpeonead by the Ford County DA to reveal the name of the confidential source mentioned. It was the beginning of a nightmare for both Sam Bonilla and myself. More to come on Electrica in the Desert.  NOTE: The photo above is of the old Fort Dodge Jail just outside of the Dodge City limits. It was constructed as part of the federal military campaign to subdue the Native peoples in Kansas after the Civil War. It’s not the jail in which Bonilla was incarcerated a few miles away, but I included it because, for me, it symbolizes an ongoing mentality that characterizes the forces that continue to operate in southwestern Kansas.

Poverty kills people: Harvard stumped, Academy of Sciences “baffled”

Just when we thought we were all middle class, the Academy of Sciences caved in and said the P word, about six weeks before the big election.


Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.

By Sabrina Travernis,  New York Times.


English: Harvard Yard winter 2009.

English: Harvard Yard winter 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(EXCERPTS)  The latest estimate shows life expectancy for (American) white women without a high school diploma is 73.5 years, compared with 83.9 years for white women with a college degree or more. For white men, the gap was even bigger: 67.5 years for the least educated compared with 80.4 for those with a college degree or better.

Researchers said they were baffled by the magnitude of the drop.

“There’s this enormous issue of why,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard. “It’s very puzzling and we don’t have a great explanation.”

The slump is so vexing that it became the subject of an inquiry by the National Academy of Sciences, which published a report on it last year.

“Something is going on in the lives of disadvantaged white women that is leading to some really alarming trends in life expectancy,” said Ms. Montez of Harvard.

The songs our Daddy sang / Zoominto

Poor whites across the nation are breaking out extra cartons of Bud  to celebrate the news that America’s top researchers and academics are already working on issues first identified in the 1970s.  Meanwhile, all black woman finally surpassed poor white women in 2006 have already identified  “evidence of a troubling pattern that has emerged for those at the bottom of the education ladder.”

In fact, a Professor Berkman has recently received a grant from the National Institute on Aging to fund a new cutting-edge study.

Berkman’s theory?

Low wage jobs could take a toll on health.


1) Poor people work harder than you do so that your life can be much easier and much longer than theirs. Their knowledge of this is perfect, keen, and burning.

2) Poor people do not give up their lives freely. They don’t donate them. They grieve them. That combined quarter-of-a-century lost by, say, a poor white married couple? (see stats above).

They want that 24 years back.  They also want – and much more than you can possibly imagine – their teeth. Poor people want their teeth back.

3) You’ll never know what poor people are thinking. But they’ll know what you’re thinking.

As for Electrica, we just want to be there when the American Dental Society pleads its case before the Almighty.

We’re praying for a press pass.

Funny, how neither Richard Prince nor the Maynard Institute has anything else to say.

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms™

Reporter Who Exposed Racism Finds Herself Jobless

“It’s been a little over a month since Sam Bonilla, a Mexican immigrant opted not to go to trial in Dodge City, Kansas for killing a local man during a situation he claims was self-defense,” Marisa Trevino wrote Friday on her Latina Lista blog.

“Bonilla’s reason for not facing a jury was [reportedly] that he didn’t feel he could get a fair trial in Dodge City because he was Latino.

“Time will tell if Dodge City officials were as clueless to the racial tensions that exist in their town, as they claim, or they just didn’t like anyone pulling off the blanket and exposing how they always did things.

“No matter which way it’s looked at, the situation in Dodge City needed to be exposed. If it had not been for Claire O’Brien, the reporter for the Dodge City Daily Globe at the time, no one would have found out about Bonilla or Dodge City.

“. . . But not everybody was happy that O’Brien exposed Dodge’s racial undercurrents. In a bizarre show of unprofessionalism, the presiding judge in Sam Bonilla’s sentencing hearing, Judge Daniel Love, took over 10 minutes to publicly berate O’Brien, who was present in the courtroom, for stirring things up in town. He blamed her choice of words in her reporting to describe Bonilla’s situation. By the time the judge was done, it was clear he viewed O’Brien as a troublemaker ‚Äî yet, everyone else should have seen her as doing her job, and doing it well.

“However, in the hours after Bonilla’s sentencing, O’Brien found herself in a situation that no reporter should be in for doing their job. Within a span of hours, O’Brien lost her job at the Daily Globe, was uninvited to speak at a journalism conference, was ignored by the Kansas Press Association in her role for finally getting the Shield Law passed in Kansas and began a quest to redeem her journalistic reputation. . . . ”

Ruthless, lethal destruction: freedom’s advocates censor reporters for life

No non-profit replied to my documented pleas for advocacy, no lawyer responded to my
May 10, 2010 Issue
  • ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF CRIME about the State of Kansas v. Samuel Bonilla. Last Labor Day afternoon, Tanner Brunson—accompanied by his friend Steven Holt, Holt’s daughter, his stepson, and a former boyfriend of his stepdaughter’s—drove his truck down a riverbed in Dodge City, Kansas. Holt and Brunson had consumed a lot of beer and in the riverbed they came upon Sam Bonilla, a Cox Communications cable guy, walking with his older son and his nephew. As Brunson’s truck approached, Bonilla gave him the finger. Holt and Brunson got out of the truck and as they approached Bonilla he fired on them with a .22-calibre gun. At the hospital, doctors stabilized Brunson, but Steven Holt died. Both Holt and Brunson were “good ole country boys.” Bonilla was Hispanic. Describes the history of the Hispanic community in Dodge City; almost half of the city’s current residents are Hispanic. After some hesitation, Bonilla turned himself in to the police on the evening of the shooting. He told them that he repeatedly shouted “Get back!” to Brunson and Holt before shooting, a claim confirmed by Holt’s daughter and stepson. Bonilla was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Holt and second-degree attempted murder in the wounding of Brunson. Rebecca Escalante, who runs Becky’s Bail Bonds and Tax Service, has found the Hispanics in Dodge City to be considerably less assertive than what she’d been accustomed to in Texas. Bonilla worked part-time for Escalante, and on one visit to see him in jail she took along Claire O’Brien, a reporter with the Dodge City Daily Globe. O’Brien’s article about Bonilla—in which he said he didn’t think a Hispanic could get a fair trial in Ford County— caused a sensation in Dodge City. County Attorney Terry Malone subpoenaed both O’Brien and Escalante—demanding that they reveal any anonymous sources, that O’Brien hand over her notes on the jailhouse interview, and that they both testify in a closed-door proceeding. Doug Anstaett, the executive director of the Kansas Press Association, thought the case made a good argument for the Kansas legislature to pass a shield law to protect reporters. Attorney Lucille Douglass, who began representing Bonilla, claimed that information about weapons and anti-Hispanic sentiment could have been easily obtained by subpoenaing Brunson’s MySpace page. A blog in Texas, Latina Lista, described Dodge City as “a place where some of the ‘white’ locals like to play a game they call ‘Border Patrol’ where they use their trucks to intimidate Latino pedestrians.” The implication was that Bonilla was nearly run over because he is Hispanic. Mentions gun rights. In early March, it was announced that Bonilla accepted a plea bargain on the reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, resulting in a sentence of seventy-four months. As a noncitizen who had committed a felony, he would presumably be deported after completing his sentence.
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Puesta de sol de las Cruces: buenas noches, montañas: Oriente y Occidente.

Buena noche gran valle en el centro/O’BRIEN 2011


Cortez escondió el oro aquí. Cortez hid the gold here.

Still hoping to buy his way into heaven, Cortez’s ghost returns to look for the gold every night, but remains confused by modern plumbing and underground cables.

Cortez Gas, New Mexico / CLAIRE O’BRIEN 2012


I MET EDDIE MONTOYA WHERE I SEEM TO MEET MOST PEOPLE THESE DAYS: in front of a gas station. This one was in Williamsburg, New Mexico, which is atttached in the most literal sense possible to the substantial town of Truth or Consequences. T or C (no one ever calls it anything else) is about two hours south of Alberquerque on State Hwy. 25. Montoya had dropped by for a cup of coffee with the gas station’s owner, Nick, and wanted to know if I was a real reporter.

I had to think about that for a moment.


 I decided the answer was yes, as long as Montoya knew that I’m no longer a staff writer, and thus can’t guarentee him much more publicity than any other small-time freelance bum out there. Or, like, here.
“Basically I’m a migrant journalist,” I concluded, wishing that this were not quite so true.

The trunk of my Crown Vic police interceptor comes in handy, because it’s  packed to the brim with newspapers.  Whenever I need hard copy of one of my stories, I dig through that  trunk, throwing newspapers right and left and stopping periodically to read something I wrote a decade ago, mesmerised by my own prose. The truth is,  I’m no less captivated by the sight of my byline under a line lead than I was when I was an intern during the last century. But Mr Montoya had no time to waste, so I popped the trunk and grabbed a few newspapers for him.

Satisfied that I was real enough, Eddie Montoya started talking. He was a man with something to say.

 “I’m a Chihenne (Chi-he-nde) Apache – we’re the “Red Paint People“, he told me, as we  leaned against my car, gulping coffee. As he said “Red Paint”, Montoya extended a forearm slightly and stroked his skin briefly, as if it were indeed red, or painted red. Perhaps, I thought, it was a memory of red.

The Chihenne are also called  the Warm Springs Apache. Like most First People, they reject as myth that migration across the Bering Strait 10,000 years ago, priviliging instead an authority on their own origins that places them here at the beginning of time.

 “Although I’m an Apache, my people weren’t represented by Geronimo – most Apache weren’t. Everyone thinks we’re one huge tribe, all descended from him,” said  Montoya. ” “Well, we’re not. He surrendered; we didn’t. We never signed a treaty,  we weren’t allowed any land and we’re not recognized by the BIA (Buruau of Indian Affairs).”

 More precisely,  according to Montoya, the Chihenne were lumped together as Chiricahua with three other loosely affiliated bands of Apachean language speakers by the US government when Geronimo surrendered in 1886. The  Chiricahua  had never been a tribe, but they were shipped to Florida as a tribe, then held as prisoners of war in Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a tribe.  Finally, they were “released” as a tribe and given the choice of remaining in Oklahoma as the Fort Sill Apaches or moving to the Mescaero Apache Reservation near Ruidoso, NM – as Chiricahua.

English: Gravestone of Quanah Parker located a...

English: Gravestone of Quanah Parker located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Pershing 1 missile on display at Fort...

English: Pershing 1 missile on display at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I  asked  Montoya where the traditional Chihenne lands actually were. Further north. or perhaps in New Mexico’s southwestern mountains? Part of what is now Arizona?

“It’s here,”  he replied.

“Like, Sierria County?”  I’ve never been a quick thinker. The grace of other people has lifted me more than once through this life.

“We’re standing on it,” he said. Gracefully.


T R U T H  O R  C O N S E Q U E N C E S  (HOT SPRINGS ) New Mexico / O’BRIEN 2012

I looked down at the gas station parking lot and jumped, slightly and involuntarily. Suddenly, all the signs saying Hot Springs took on a new meaning. Hot Springs Motel, Hot Springs RV Park, Hot Springs Spa, Hot Springs Retreat, Hot Springs Steak House, Hot Springs Rentals: I’d associated them with tourists, snowbirds, and  blue collar retirees. They were in the background. I hadn’t seen a Hot Spring because there are no hot springs you can walk to and look at – they are all owned and fenced  and cost money.

It is here. Right here. /C.O’Brien 2012

Dead trees in the terraces of , grew during in...

Dead trees in the terraces of , grew during inactivity of the mineral-rich springs, and were killed when carried by spring water clogged the vascular systems of the trees. are seen in the steam emerging from the s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Third Street, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico /O’Brien 2012

“Let them think they can own the springs. We don’t want anything but recognition of who we are,” said the Warm Springs Apache who was standing next to me in the gas station parking lot ” We don’t want money and we don’t want land. I HAVE land. And we sure don’t need approval. We want just that respect of recognition – an acknowlegement that the Chihenne are here in our home.”

Mr. Montoya  held a carved wooded stick with thin strips of leather wrapped around the top. Small feathers,wire,  bits of rock and/or beads, carvings and other symbols covered one upper side of the stick. He wouldn’t explain their meaning to me.

“That’s sacred,” he said.

  A few blocks  from where we stood, a Geronimo Museum displayed big plaster statues of Apache people looking ferocious, and sold Geronimo souvineers.

When Geronimo was a prisoner of war in Fort Sill, they used to let him out to sell souviners of himself, to play himself  in Wild West Shows, and, once, to ride in Teddy Roosevelt’s inaugural parade.

“Okay, I’ll tell you the meaning of one of these symbols,” Montoya said suddenly. He pointed to a juxtaposition of lines carved deeply into the wood near the top of his sacred stick.

“That means we’re at war,” he said.

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From left, Coordinator of Defense, known only as O’Boyle, Empress I’m the Boss of You, Secretary of State Kito Gamble, and Minister of Justice Joshua Drayton. Note that O’Boyle proudly rests her elbows on a weapon of mass destruction.

Following a shocking terrorist attack on the Federal Reserve, I.C.E, has been granted temporary political control of the nation.

Leaders of the government installed in Phoenix by the invading Zapata-Nat Turner-Geronimo Coalition raided the Federal Reserve in a surprise attack that immobilized the System’s Fourth District Bank in Cleveland, leaving its officers stunned and without comment. The operation was personally led by the Empress of America herself, whose full title is I’m the Boss of You IV.  She drove a custom-made Terror Tank, followed by two of the Coalition’s  international volunteer units, the Victor Jara Brigade (Chile) and the Harriet Tubman Brigade (US)

The House granted  Designated for Unilateral Approval status to the ICE National Emergency Plan, citing its authority in the absence of the Senate, the President, and the entire Cabinet.  ICE immediately declared martial law and issued a cautionary description of its authority to the public, detailing the broad scope of its new powers.  A sharp warning was directed to “the entire media, broadly defined”, promising swift penalties to those who questioned “the complete accuracy of the evidence, captured via state of the art surveillance technology.”




As of press time,  ICE had forbidden the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H Club from issuing further “helpful comment”  identifying the WMD captured (above) on drone surveillance tapes.

“Pay attention to your chickens and hogs and leave national security to us, kids” they were warned.

ICE also banned the National Junior High School Press Association from further use of the word “wheelbarrow”, and sent its Washington correspondent, 8th grader Tupcac Wells, back to Newark, NJ.  Wells was demoted to the city desk and assigned the cafeteria beat. He was also given a year of after-school detention and informed of a write-up in his permanent record for a sarcastic editorial questioning the existence of the Presidential/Senate/Cabinet Extra Long Private Vacation.

ICE  praised the White House Press Corps for its patriotism and promised the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post extended access to surveillance tapes of the invasion, including close-up footage of the Coalition’s weapons of mass destruction. Reporters from the three newspapers termed the existing evidence as meeting the highest standards of proof and said they saw no basis for investigating Wells’  allegations re. the PSCEL Private Vacation.

“Tupac was always lecturing us about something,” said a Washington Post Reporter. “I’m glad I don’t have to listen to the little show-off quote I.F.Stone anymore.”


UPDATE:  I.F. Stone’s Weekly is banned until further notice