History ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


“The Wild Ones: Violence, Vengeance, and Sensationalism in the Borderlands” provides a microhistory of an incident that took place in the Arizona-Sonora border region in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The event involved the kidnapping of a Mexican boy by an Apache band living in the Sierra Madre Occidental, the American volunteer expedition to recover him, and the media frenzy that ensued. Untangling the multifaceted motivations behind the “Fimbres affair,” as the situation came to be known, and situating them within a longer history of sensationalizing and exploiting cross-cultural violence in the borderlands is one purpose of this study. At the same time, this study offers broader insights into borderlands relations and identities in the early twentieth century, and the tension between modernity and a mythic past in western spaces, as well as in the minds of the American people. I argue that the coverage of this incident and the American public’s reaction to it was indicative of societal attitudes and fears in the United States during the 1920s. To attract Anglo American audiences and dollars, opportunists purposefully evoked nostalgic myths about the US West and prejudices against Indigenous and Mexican peoples to appeal to contemporary anxieties surrounding immigration, urbanization, race, class, and gender.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Paul Hutton

Second Committee Member

Durwood Ball

Third Committee Member

Samuel Truett

Fourth Committee Member

Kent Blansett




Apaches, Borderlands, sensationalism, journalism, 1920s, western

Document Type


Available for download on Friday, August 01, 2025

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History Commons