The controversial native American leader describes his role in Navajo tribal government, his election as tribal chairman, and the actions that led to his conviction for bribery, ethics violations, and conspiracy, crimes for which, he claims, he was framed. 15,000 first printing.
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The autobiography-cum-exoneration of MacDonald, once tribal chairman of the Navajo Nation, now a prisoner in a Navajo jail. At times, MacDonald (writing here with Schwarz, Walking with the Damned, 1992, etc.) skirts absurdity in his self- glorification: He is ``the Last Warrior...a man who feared neither scandal nor death,'' who ``adorned his body with the white man's battle dress--a three piece suit'' to defend his Navajo people. Once past the mock-epic palaver, however, a gritty story emerges of a man who left his mark both on his native culture and on the larger world before enemies (MacDonald's version) or greed (the court's version) did him in. Born in 1928, MacDonald passed his early years in a traditional Navajo home. After surviving Bureau of Indian Affairs schooling, he joined the Marines, spending WW II as one of the celebrated Navajo code- talkers. Electrical engineering followed, with a meteoric rise up the ranks at Hughes Aircraft. Having conquered the Anglo world, MacDonald returned to Navajo Nation and, in 1971, became its tribal chairman. His tenure was marked by fierce battles for Navajo autonomy--he campaigned for a native curriculum in schools and traditional practice at home, insisting that ``our children must learn to be totally Navajo''--during which he managed to stub the toes of radical Indians (AIM), conservative pro-Indian senators (Barry Goldwater), and the Hopis, whom he accuses of ``compromising their traditional values'' in land disputes with the Navajo. As MacDonald has it, ``lies'' and ``innuendo'' from his enemies--among whom he numbers the FBI and Peterson Zah, his successor as tribal chairman--led to his downfall on trumped-up charges. As a brief for MacDonald, too obviously slanted to be convincing; nonetheless, a powerful tale of ethnic awakening. (Sixteen-page b&w photo insert--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
MacDonald, the former head of the Navajo Tribal Council, is now in a Navajo jail serving 20 years of combined tribal and federal sentences for election-law violations, bribery and corruption. Ably assisted by Schwarz ( The Hillside Strangler ), he here recalls events that led him, once an engineer with a promising future at Hughes Aircraft, first to leadership of his people and then to disgrace. Returning to work on the reservation in the 1960s, MacDonald wrested the power to administer funds for the anti-poverty programs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As three-term Tribal Chairman, he fought for new federal and private assistance programs outside the control of politics and the BIA. When his efforts to secure mineral leases and water rights threatened the states of Arizona and New Mexico, he ran afoul of Barry Goldwater and others in power. In 1988 three grand juries in turn refused to indict him; in 1989 he was found guilty of the above charges in a trial he convincingly maintains was politically motivated. Acknowledging that accepting donations to his election campaign from non-Navajo sources violated tribal law, MacDonald persuasively argues that other charges were unfairly pursued, e.g., the agency for Navajo Economic Opportunity that he founded and ran was audited more than 100 times in four years. His story is an absorbing account of conflicting cultures and customs. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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