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Most people today think of war–or really violence of any sort–as for the most part useless. It’s better, we say, just to talk things out or perhaps buy our enemies off. And that usually works. But what if you lived in a culture where fighting was an important part of social status and earning a living? What if, say, you couldn’t get married unless you had gone to war? What if, say, you couldn’t feed your family without raiding your enemies? Such was the case with Chiricahua Apache of the Southwest. As Lance R. Blyth shows in his terrific book Chirichahua and Janos: Communities of Violence in the Southwestern Borderlands, 1680-1880 (Nebraska UP, 2012), war was a necessary part of Chiricahua life, at least in the 17th and 18th centuries. They needed to fight the Spanish in Janos, and there was nothing the Spanish could really do to stop them, at least in the long term. Of course the Spanish–who were, it should be said, invaders–fought back. And so the two communities entered into a two century-long struggle that only ended with the “removal” of the Chiricahua Apache by the United States in the nineteenth century. Listen to Lance tell the fascinating story.
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