The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Contested Territory's biggest strength is its careful attention to nuance. The Five
Civilized Tribes, as well as the numerous Plains Indians groups who arrived
later, are treated as distinct entities-each with differing ideals and goals. In
addition, Wickett shows how full-blooded and mixed-blooded members of vari-
ous Indian groups often came into conflict. Ironically, white attempts to destroy
Indian cultures actually helped preserve them, as different Indian groups even-
tually overcame their differences and began cooperating in the face of Anglo
cultural attacks. The experiences of African Americans could be similarly con-
tentious and complicated, with former slaves of Indians ("native" freedmen)
often resenting so-called "state Negroes," who were usually former slaves of
whites in other states.
Although Wickett successfully supports his main argument-that white
Americans pursued a contradictory racial policy-he perhaps overemphasizes
the sincerity of white Americans who ostensibly wanted Indians to be assimilated
into American society. Whites almost always viewed African American economic
success and political savvy with alarm. Maybe Anglos were willing to incorporate
Indians into the larger society mainly because they were not perceived as an eco-
nomic or political threat. Besides a more in-depth discussion of this theme, the
book also would have benefited from additional tables to illustrate the region's
population characteristics and how they changed over time. In addition, the
chapter on Anglo-American justice relies heavily on sensational incidents and
would have been strengthened by a systematic examination of court records.
Overall, however, this book is recommended reading. It effectively untan-
gles Oklahoma's complicated racial relationships and demonstrates how the
often conflicting racial views of white Americans influenced life in the
American West.
Mesa Community College PAUL T. HIETTER
Coming of Age an the Great Depression: The Czvzlzan Conservation Corps Experience in
New Mexico, 1933-1942. By Richard Melzer. (Las Cruces, N.M.: Yucca Tree
Press, 2000. Pp. xii+3o8. Illustrations, appendices, sources, index. ISBN 1-
881325-41-5. $25.00oo, cloth.)
Melzer's thirteen-chapter social history presents varied day-to-day experiences
from the nearly fifty thousand young men between eighteen and twenty-five who
served the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in New Mexico. He begins with a
bleak tone to the 1930s to highlight the need for the federal program and con-
cludes with the transition of CCC camps to support U.S. mobilization for World
War II. The majority of the book addresses different aspects of enrollee life in
chapter titles that include "Arrival at Camp," "Work Days," "Weekends in Town,"
and "To the Rescue."
The survey skips rapidly between camps across the state from Farmington in
the northwest to Carlsbad in the southeast to reveal diverse experiences within
the CCC. In the process, Melzer places individuals into a story often reported in
terms of programatic results. Readers learn about James Rivers's work with a

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed August 27, 2014.