Complicating Red Power: A Political History of Mohawk Activist Richard Oakes, 1942–1972
Kent Blansett, Assistant Professor, Department of History and American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota, Morris, and Lamon Scholar, SAR
Colloquium, SAR Boardroom
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free
The life of Akwesasne Mohawk Richard Oakes is crucial to any discourse on contemporary American Indian history. Oakes helped organize the highly publicized Alcatraz, Fort Lawton, and Pit River “takeovers.” His assassination in 1972 galvanized the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington, D.C., and unified a movement that eventually ushered in the era of self-determination in the mid-1970s. This presentation explores the life of Native activist Richard Oakes and illustrates how his actions reflected a unique voice of Indigenous leadership within the Red Power movement of the 1960s–1970s. From a young age and throughout his short life, Richard Oakes struggled to inspire both his and subsequent generations of Native peoples to maintain their independent and sovereign status.