Exploring Red Power in the 1960s

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 6:00PM

Exploring Red Power in the 1960s
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Exploring Red Power in the 1960s

When we think about the 1960s in California, certain images come to mind of hippies with flowers in their hair, the Grateful Dead, anti-war protests, or racial justice organizations like the Black Panthers, Diggers, or Brown Berets. Coinciding with these historical events was the Indians of All Tribes takeover of Alcatraz Island in November of 1969. The Alcatraz occupation triggered a national movement as American Indian peoples united to fight for land reclamation, environmental protection, human rights, cultural preservation, and ultimately sovereignty under the banner of Red Power. This event attempts to bring together key veterans from the Alcatraz takeover and scholars to discuss the larger Red Power movement of the 1960s.

Speakers include:

Kent Blansett, Assistant Professor of History at University of Nebraska at Omaha and a descendant of five Tribes: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi His latest book is entitled A Journey to Freedom: The Life of Richard Oakes, 1942-1972 which will be published by Yale University Press in Fall 2018. Once published, this will be the first biography of Akwesasne Mohawk activist Richard Oakes, who played a major role in the famed 1969 Alcatraz Takeover by the organization Indians of All Tribes. Oakes was also instrumental in the Pit River, Clear Lake, and Fort Lawton takeovers before his assassination sparked the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington. Blansett has collected research material from over twenty University and Tribal libraries from New York to California as well as conducted numerous interviews with key veteran activists. He is also the author of a recent essay entitled “San Francisco, Red Power, and the Emergence of an Indian City,” which appeared in the anthology City Dreams, Country Schemes: Community and Identity in the American West.

Professor Edward D. Castillo (Cahuilla/Luiseno), Native American activist who participated in the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. Emeritus professor and former director of Native American Studies at the Sonoma State University in California, he wrote several chapters in the Smithsonian Institution's Handbook of North American Indians and in Mission Indian Federation: Protecting Tribal Sovereignty 1919-1967, published in the Encyclopedia of Native Americans in the 20th CenturyCastillo is a regular contributor of book reviews to historical journals such as Indian Historian, Journal of California Anthropology, Western Historical Quarterly, American Indian Quarterly and California History.

LaNada War Jack is from the Shoshone Bannock Tribes of Idaho. Dr. War Jack is a graduate of the UC Berkeley where she received her BA in Native American Law and Policies, her MPA and Doctorate degrees are from Idaho State University in Pocatello. LaNada presents her own missing Native history who her people are and where she is from. As a student leader, she participated in the Third World Strike at UC Berkeley and successfully helped establish the first Interdisciplinary Department of Ethnic Studies in 1969 composed of Native; Black; Asian and Chicano Studies. LaNada was also a leader of the Alcatraz Takeover 1969 in the San Francisco Bay to protest broken treaties and the ill treatment of Native people across the Native contenents. She organized the support of all Native organizations in the Bay Area called the Bay Area Native American Council (BANAC) for improved relations, services and funding for the Native urban and reservation communities and Alcatraz. LaNada was on the founding steering committee of the Native American Rights Fund, today the oldest national Indian Legal organization which represents tribes across the country to protect treaty rights, sovereignty issues, etc. The historical events in the history of the present day Native struggle has been written and published from the perspective of government agencies and historians but not by an eye witness account and Native American perspective. Dr. War Jack supports the Standing Rock Resistance and presents her view of Alcatraz to Standing Rock. Her Virtual Reality film is available June 15, 2017 on youtube and facebook.

Meet Our Moderator:

Sherry L. Smith is a University Distinguished Professor of History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She also served as Associate Director and Co-Director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies between 2003 and 2016. Before moving to SMU in 1999, she taught at University of Texas, El Paso; University of Colorado, Boulder; and the University of Wyoming. She received her Ph.d. from the University of Washington and her M.A. and B.A. from Purdue University.

Her most recent book is Hippies, Indians and the Fight for Red Power published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Other books include Reimagining Indians: Native Americans Through Anglo Eyes, 1880-1940 (Oxford, 2000) which won the Organization of American Historians’ Rawley Prize for best book on race relations, The View from Officers’ Row: Army Perceptions of Western Indians (University of Arizona Press, 1990), and Sagebrush Soldier: Private William Earl Smith’s View of the Sioux War of 1876 (University of Oklahoma Press, 1989). In addition she edited Indians and Energy: Exploitation or Opportunity in the American Southwest (School of Advanced Research Press, 2010) and The Future of the Southern Plains (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003).

Smith was President of the Western History Association, 2009-2010. Her Presidential Address, “Reconciliation and Restitution in the American West,” was later published in the Western Historical Quarterly. That article won the Berkshire Prize for best article of the year (2010). She has received Fulbright Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities grants, among others. The Huntington Library awarded Smith the L.A. Times Distinguished Fellow award in 2009-10.

In partnership with News from Native California

Photo Courtesy of Dr. LaNada War Jack.

Photo of Richard Oakes and LaNada Means.

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