Borderlands violence, so explosive in our own time, has deep roots in history. Lance R. Blyth's study of Chiricahua Apaches and the presidio of Jas in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands reveals how single entity had a mopoly on coercion, and how violence became the primary means by which relations were established, maintained, or altered both within and between communities. For more than two centuries, violence was at the center of the relationships by which Jas and Chiricahua formed their communities. Violence created families by turning boys into men through campaigns and raids, which ultimately led to marriage and also determined the provisioning and security of these families; acts of revenge and retaliation similarly governed their attempts to secure themselves even as trade and exchange continued sporadically. This revisionist work reveals how during the Spanish, Mexican, and American eras, elements of both conflict and accommodation constituted these two communities, which previous historians have often treated as separate and antagonistic. By showing t only the negative aspects of violence but also its potentially positive outcomes, Chiricahua and Jas helps us to understand violence t only in the southwestern borderlands but in borderland regions generally around the world.
Lance R. Blyth is the command historian at U.S. Northern Command and a research associate in the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico.