As MacDonald spoke, his daughter sat in the front row of the court, weeping, with her head resting on her mother's shoulder. MacDonald's wife was weeping, too.

Many of the Indian men wept openly.

Judge Carroll leaned forward to listen. He is reputed to be a judge who hands down fierce sentences. But this time, he appeared sympathetic.

"I ask you to look upon me with an eye of compassion," MacDonald said. "I don't want to waste away somewhere far away from my people. I wish I could go back to my reservation."

MacDonald walked slowly to the defense table and sat down. He did not look around the courtroom. If he had done so, he might have sensed the flow of sympathy moving toward him.

The prosecutor rose to speak. He admitted he was still in awe of MacDonald's accomplishments as a tribal leader. But he asked not only that MacDonald be sent to prison but that the sentence be lengthened. Government lawyers never get it.

Judge Carroll spoke. What he said was surprising.

"Being a judge is a lonely business," he said. "I've thrashed around about what to do. I've done so for several weeks."

Judge Carroll recalled the Black Sox scandal of 1919, when a small boy told his ballplaying hero, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

And then Judge Carroll did something that was unthinkable for the prosecution.

He ordered Peter MacDonald to serve a sentence concurrent with the one he is now serving in the Navajo jail.

"Mr. MacDonald was brought here by the U.S. marshals. The U.S. marshals will bring him back to the reservation."

MacDonald would go back to jail. But at least he would still be on his reservation.

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