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A Problem For The Great White Lawmaker

March 2023
1min read

Speaking of Indians, Mr. Ewers’ remarks bring to mind a story told by Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona during a speech before the Western History Association in Tucson in the fall of 1968. It goes as follows: Senator Carl Hayden … was sheriff of Maricopa County before Arizona became a state. … After the federal government had firmly imposed its restrictions against polygamy upon the Mormon settlers, some nosey person observed that the Pima and Maricopa Indians living in the desert were following this practice, which also had been commonplace in Biblical times. Charges were raised against an Indian chief living several miles from Phoenix who was known to have more than one wife. Sheriff Hayden rode out to the reservation to warn the chief against the practice. He found the man resting under a cottonwood tree while his two wives were hoeing a patch of corn. Squatting in the shade with the Indian, Carl exchanged pleasantries and offered the makings of a cigarette before finally getting around to the subject of his visit.

“The Big Chief in Washington says you can’t have two wives. That is called polygamy and it’s against the law. You’ll have to get rid of one wife.”

The Indian calmly puffed his cigarette for a moment and then called out loudly for the two squaws to come in from the field. Turning to Carl, he sent the sheriff scampering back to the city by saying: “If two wives against white man’s law, you tell ’em.”

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