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Red Power movement

The Red Power movement is a social movement led by American Indians in the United States. The American Indian Movement (AIM) and National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). [1]This movement seeks the rights of Indians to make their own policies and programs. [1] The Red Power movement Took a confrontational approach to civil disobedience and Inciting changes in United States to American Indian affairs [2] Compared to using negotiations and settlements, national qui Indian groups Such AsNational Congress of American Indianshad before. [1] Red Power centered around mass action, militant action, and unified action. [3]

The phrase ” Red Power “, attributed to the author Vine Deloria, Jr. , published in the late 1960s among American Indians in the United States. [3]

Events that were part of the movement include the Occupation of Alcatraz , the Trail of Broken Treaties , the Occupation of Wounded Knee , along with intermittent protests and occupations throughout the era. [4] The lasting impression of the Red Power movement was the resurrection of American Indian pride, action, and awareness. [2] Many bills and laws have been enacted in favor of American Indians in response to the Red Power Movement, one of the most important being the reversal of tribe recognition termination. [5]


From 1953 to 1964, the United States government terminated recognition of more than 100 tribes and bands as sovereign nations with the House Concurrent Resolution 108 . This resolution stated that the tribes would be under US law and treated as American citizens instead of having the status of wards of the US. [6] The affected tribes were no longer protected by the government and stripped of their right to govern their own people.

The Relocation Act of 1956 resulted in as many as 750,000 American Indians migrating to cities during the period from 1950-1980. [7] This Act has been implemented to encourage and provide support for American Indians to find jobs in cities and to improve their lives from poverty-ridden reservations. The government offered vocational training, housing, and financial support for those who relocate. These results were often not provided or inadequately provided, resulting in American Indians being distanced from their cultural lands and being economically worse off than before. [8]

The Relocation and Termination of American Indians. The oldest recognized National American Indian group was National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), established in 1944. [9] NCAI set precedent by being the first multi-tribal political organization run entirely by Indians. NCAI Fought Against Voting Discrimination, Against the Termination of Government Relationships Between US and Native Tribes, and Against US Interference in Tribal Counsels. They loved to meet the needs of Indians who lived in the United States and had relocated to cities, and Indian Youth, and other tribes from one another. [9]NCAI was the main political organization that preceded the Red Power Movement. [1]

Main organizations involved

American Indian Movement

At the forefront of the Red Power Movement was the American Indian Movement (AIM), which was founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota . Its members belonged to and represented mainly urban Indian communities, and its leaders were young and militant. Like the Black Panthers and Brown Berets , AIM was originally organized to work for Indian civil rights in cities. Its members monitored law enforcement practices, and worked to highlight and prevent police harassment and brutality. AIM soon played a major role in building a network of urban Indian centers, churches and philanthropic organisms . It helped establish the ” powwow circuitAIM Inspired by the American Indian Political Issues. [10]

National Indian Youth Council

The National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) was founded in 1961 by young American Indians who were college graduates. [11] They were one of the first activist Indian rights organizations following the conservative ways of the NCAI. NIYC were strong opponents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Red Power Movement. [11] Like AIM, the council believed in and fought for the recognition of tribes federally and reinstating tribal governance.

Women of All Red Nations

Women of All Red Nations (WARN) emerged in 1974 as a branch of AIM that focused on American Indian women’s and family rights. Main issues that warn against the forced sterilization of Native women and the lack of adequate services. [12] WARN took action by getting involved in Indian custody battles, protesting mining companies who were poisoning food and water sources, and collecting data on Indian women who had been sterilized without consent. [12]

International Indian Treaty Council

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) was founded in 1974 in Standing Rock, South Dakota. More than 98 Indigenous tribes were represented by over 5000 people at this first gathering. IITC Growing Into a Voice for Indians Internationally-Covering North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. [13] IITC focuses on the pursuit of sovereignty and self-determination for indigenous peoples through activism, training, and unified gatherings. In 1977, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations Economic and Social Council, was able to represent the interests of the United Nations. [14]


From 1969 to the Longest Walk of 1978 , the Red Power Movement highlighted issues through social protest. Its goals are for the federal government to honor treaty obligations and provide financial “resources, education, housing and healthcare to alleviate poverty.” [15] The RPM wanted to gain Indian participation in social institutions; It has been instrumental in supporting the founding of Indian colleges, and the creation of Indian studies programs at existing institutions, and the establishment of museums and cultural centers to celebrate Indian contributions.

The 1960s marked the beginning of a ” Native American Renaissance ” in literature. New books Such As Vine Deloria, Jr. ‘s Custer Died for Your Sins (1969) and the classic Black Elk Speaks (1961), reprinted from the 1930s, atteint millions of readers inside and outside Indian communities. A wide variety of Indian writers , historians , and essayists gained publication following these successes and new authors were widely read. N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for one of his novels and Leslie Silkoreceived acclaim. Fiction and nonfiction works about Indian life and lore has continued to attract a wide audience. Authors Such As Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris -have earned continued recognition. Since the late twentieth century, Sherman Alexie has been adapted for film as well. [16]

Occupation of Alcatraz

The Occupation of Alcatraz began on November 20, 1969 when more than 80 young, mostly college aged Indians of All Tribes (IAT) [3] boarded boats to approach Alcatraz Island overnight. The young American Indians settled with the legal backing of a Sioux Treaty that named any federal “out of use” land available for Indians. The US federal government had closed the Alcatraz federal prison and was not affected by it. [2]

Sign in Alcatraz (1969)

The occupation HAD-been planned ahead of time by Adam Norwall , a successful Indian businessman, and Richard Oakes , a San Francisco State student. The two Agreed to and sympathetic media outlets Told Their plane about to take over Alcatraz at a dinner party hosted by San Francisco Chronicle See Tim Findley. Alcatraz would be called off. [2]Their first attempt, on November 9, 1969-the date the media had been told -caused by the Bay Area. Although they did not begin the occupation that night, Oakes jumped off the circling boat as others followed and swam to Alcatraz. After making it to Alcatraz, the young Indians were removed by Coast Guard that night but would be back in much larger numbers on November 20. [2]

Excerpt From Alcatraz Proclamation

We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards. By this we mean that this places resemble most Indian reservations, in that:1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.

2. It has no fresh running water.

3. The sanitation facilities are inadequate.

4. There are no oil or mineral rights.

5. There is no industry and no unemployment is very great.

6. There are no health care facilities.

7. The soil is rocky and non-productive and the land does not support game.

8. There are no educational facilities.

9. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.

Alcatraz Proclamation: To the Great White Father and All His People

During the occupation, IAT released a statement called the Alcatraz Proclamation which explained that the Indians had the right to Alcatraz Island due to the right to discovery. The Proclamation continues to describe the deserted prison as comparable to the conditions of the Indian Reservations. [17] IAT was also joined by the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) during the course of the growing movement and the growing group of young, educated, and passionate American Indians made their presence known in the media. [2]Richard Oakes became the public figure for the occupation and participated in the press conferences for the documents of the Alcatraz Proclamation and goals for the island, including cultural facilities, educational facilities, and recreational spaces for Indians to be together as Indians. [18]

The Occupation of Alcatraz ended up a series of disorienting events on the island. The January 1970 death of Richard Oakes’ 13-year-old stepdaughter from a building brought Richard and his wife back to the mainland. [2] Some of the busy students went back to school when the Oakes’ left. A problem of drug and alcohol abuse has become prominent on the island, which affects the occupations reputation. [2] The remaining leaders were John Trudell, LaNada Means, and Stella Leach, who could not end up agreeing to further develop the occupation. Electricity and water being cut off to the island by May, and a suspicious fire that burned three buildings to the dismantling of the occupation. [2]Protestors continued downward spiral. On June 11, 1971 a large amount of police officers used to suppress the remaining few protestors. [1]

Although the protesters certainly failed to achieve their specific goals, they helped catalyze the Indian community. With the occupation of Alcatraz, participant said, “we got back our worth, our pride, our dignity, our humanity.” [19]

Occupation of DQ University

With young, college graduates, the power of protesters, the pursuit of higher education, especially for American Indians has become a major initiative. In 1970, while the Alcatraz occupation was still active, a group of Indian youth took over US military surplus land near Davis, California. These youth HAD applied for the land goal Were denied access after- UC Davis Was Granted Access, Regardless of UC Davis’ Legally incomplete application. In retaliation, the youth hopped on the property leading to the establishment and occupation of DQ University . [20]DQ University became the first tribal university that was established in California, and the first one was not affiliated with a single reservation. It has been granted to the student occupation in April 1971. [20] Since then, DQ University became part of the Tribal Colleges and Universities and received accreditation in 1977. The curriculum of DQ University included cultural and traditional education focused on educating Indians about Indians. [20] The university struggled to keep enrollment rates higher and secure funding, which resulted in a loss of accreditation in 2005. However, the occupation that created DQ University highlighted the importance of higher education for American Indians to the Red Power Movement.

Trail of Broken Treaties

BIA seal

In August 1972, the Red Power Movement continued under the leadership of the American Indian Movement (AIM) with the trail of broken treaties . The trail of broken treaties, a play on the ” Trail of Tears ,” was the migration of seven caravans from areas across the west coast to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Washington, DC [21] The BIA had become widely associated with American Indians corruption and not acting in the best interest. [22] The protesters started arriving in DC on November 1 with the introduction of a list of twenty demands to the BIA. [21]Upon arrival, the activists and GSA security had a misunderstanding about the activists being housed in the BIA building. This resulted in the overpowering of the security and taking over the building. The American Indians then barricaded the doors, with furniture from the BIA they had broken apart, and the occupation began on November 2, 1972. [22] This occupation of the BIA had started the week before the presidential election, making a DC occupation the center of media attention. Threats of police force were used daily against the Indians if they did not come out. Supporters from outside the occupation would come to the BIA to create a human barricade keeping the police from entering the occupied building. [22]On November 6, a judge had given an order for the occupiers to vacate the building before 6 pm that day they would be forcibly evicted. [22] As the Indians are braced for eviction, some of them have to perimeter around it with clubs, spears and other weaponry to resist. Others inside the building were rumored to have some explosives awaiting the invasion of GSA officials. [22] The spokesman of the occupation, Russel Means, spoke on the front stairs of the BIA explaining that the occupation would end when their demands had been met, and no time sooner. The deadline for the Indians to leave the world back to the present day. [22] On November 8, the protestors left the BIA building with paintings, artifacts, and $ 2 million worth of damage.

Wounded Knee

The Wounded Knee Incident started on February 27, 1973 and lasted 71 days. More than 200 Indians in support of the Oglala Sioux people of the Pine Ridge Reservation from Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO), a group of mostly full-indian women who have lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation had been unsuccessful in a trial to impeach Dick Wilson, who was the chairman of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council. [23] Critics of Wilson claimed he was too close to white people, too cozy with the government, and was disrespecting his Oglala Sioux culture. [24]Enraged that Wilson had not been impeached, OSCRO continued to gather and brainstorm a response. They decided to ask AIM for help in reacting to what they felt was an injustice. With AIM in the picture, occupying Wounded Knee was their final decision. [23]

Wounded Knee was chosen as a tribute to the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, where hundreds of Lakota Indians were killed by the US Cavalry Regiment in the Indarmed Efforts to Disarm the Indians. [25] As a historical remembrance of the massacre, the Indians believed that many Indians were disrespectful and used for commercial purposes. [2] The owners of the trade posts would sell native Indian craftsmen and women who had bought a history of racism towards the local Indians. The occupiers attacked the trade posts first to accumulate the ammunitions and weaponry that were held there. [2]The occupation formed to deliver a message that American Indians would not have been peacefully brought back to the United States, and their land was ceded. [26] Federal agents gathered around Wounded Knee while the occupiers would host events to the media to cover their message. [2] Throughout the occupation of Wounded Knee, the protestors and federal agents would often have shootouts at night. The Indians would be shooting from inside Wounded Knee and the federal agents from the outside perimeter they had formed. [27]From these shootouts, two Indians were killed and one federal agent was permanently paralyzed. The death of the second Indian, who was from the Pine Ridge Reservation and an Oglala Sioux, Buddy Lamont, led many Indians to seek an end to the violent occupation. On May 8, 1973 the American Indians surrendered to the federal agents after 10 weeks. [27] Russell Means, one of the most recognized leaders of the AIM, negotiated with US forces to release the hostages on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings on the Indian treaties that were broken by the US government Investigations of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its members’ attention to the living conditions at Pine Ridge.

This event is not only important because it is one of the first violent acts initiated by the Natives, but it also leads to generations of Indians getting involved in civil rights and tribal affairs. [28] The Nixon, “The Indian Revolution”, but because so many Natives took notice and began to make changes in their country. stopped trying to interfere.

Russell Means and Dennis Banks , the two AIM leaders mostly in charge of Wounded Knee II, were arrested immediately after the hostages were released. However, on September 16, 1973, the charges were dropped and they were dismissed on the account that the US government had unlawfully influenced witnesses and tampered with evidence. The violence of these types of protests then continued through the rest of the 1970’s.

List of Occupations by Red Power Activists [29] [30]

  • Occupation of Alcatraz – San Francisco, CA (1969)
  • Occupations of Argonne National Laboratory, Wrigley Field, Nike Belmont Harbor – Chicago, IL (early 1970s)
  • Occupation of Winter Dam – Winter, WI [31] (1971)
  • Occupation of abandoned Nike Missile Field – Richmond, CA (1971)
  • Occupation of abandoned Coast Guard Station – Milwaukee, WI (1971)
  • Occupation of BIA – Washington DC (1972)
  • Occupation of Wounded Knee – Wounded Knee, SD (1973)


The Red Power movement, which was made famous in the late 1970s. “By the early 1980s, over 100 Tribal museums opened.” [15] Among The Most prominent of the cultural centers is the National Museum of the American Indian(NMAI), qui Was sponsored by Hawaii’s senator Daniel Inouye and authorized by the US Congress in 1989. [5] The NMAI ouvert is the Mall in Washington, DC in 2004. It also has a branch at the US Customs House, on the Green Bowling in Lower Manhattan .

Many laws were passed in response to the Red Power Movement, one of the most notable being the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, which reversed the termination of federal tribe recognition. [5]This act restored the recognition and government to government status to the tribes, giving them control over their own tribes and ensuring that they follow certain guidelines. Since the termination of the Indian recognition process has been a major catalyst to start the movement, [6] regaining recognition has been considered a huge success for RPM.

Laws passed in favor of American Indians during the Red Power movement [5]

  • Indian Education Act of 1972 provided additional funds to school districts with high populations of Indian children
  • Indian Health Service budget doubled from 1970 to 1975, which provided funding for Indian hospitals and clinics.
  • Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) was established in 1975, as a result of fish-in protests. The NWIFC consists of 20 members who are recognized as natural resources co-managers with the State of Washington. [32]
  • Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 1976 was passed by Congress to improve the health-care system for American Indians. This act includes scholarships for American Indians who are looking to pursue studies in medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, nursing and pharmacy.
  • American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed in 1978 and ended the outlaw of Indian religious practices such as sun dance, bear dance, and the use of sweat lodges.
  • Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) was created by the BIA in 1978 to process applications from tribes for federal recognition. BAR was never federally approved, but still is in control of recognizing Indian tribes.
  • Indian Child Welfare Act was passed by Congress in 1978. This act was in response to the BIA’s placing of children in boarding schools away from their reservations. It allows for the control of Indian orphan children.
  • Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978 authorized community colleges to exist there reservations

See also

  • American Indian Movement
  • Black Power movement
  • Chiapas conflict
  • Chicano movement
  • Civil Rights Movement


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