The Peoples

American / Milga:n / Innaa

With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the United States assumed control over 30,000 square miles of the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Despite the fact that they were but the latest arrivals to the borderlands, United States citizens of European descent reserved the label American for themselves alone, even though most all of the region's other inhabitants had also been born on the North American continent.

Nonetheless, the newcomers were not immune to drawing differences between themselves, especially during the Civil War years of 1861-5, when Americans divided themselves into mutually hostile Union and Confederate contingents. And even as they sought to erect a clear distinction between themselves and the borderland's ethnic Mexican inhabitants, many of the first American men to settle in Tubac and Tucson married Mexican women.

The pre-existing inhabitants of the borderlands had their own terms for the newcomers in their midst. Many ethnic Mexicans called them "americanos," a Spanish version of the new arrival's name for themselves; similarly, to the O'odham, the Americans were the Milga:n, a word also derived from "American." But to the Apache, the group with whom the incoming Americans would develop the most contentious relationship, they would come to be known as the Innaa or "Enemy."

Because of their prominent place as the borderland's new ruling class and their ready access to technologies such as the printing press, the Americans left behind a variety of documents recording their experiences. These records vividly highlight the tremendous diversity of opinions that circulated among the American population at the time as to the proper way to approach the nation's "Indian problem."