‘Red Power’ Presentation at Ithaca College

By David Maley, December 4, 2019
50th anniversary of Alcatraz Island occupation sparks discussion.

Historian Kent Blansett will kick off a discussion of “Think Indigenous: Richard Oakes and the Red Power Movement” at Ithaca College on Thursday, Dec. 5. Free and open to the public, the 5:30 p.m. presentation will be held in Klingenstein Lounge, Campus Center.

Richard Oakes grew up in the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, on the border between Canada and the United States. He later moved to San Francisco and became an activist in creating Native American Studies as an academic discipline. In the fall of 1969, he helped lead the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island by the organization Indians of All Tribes.

Blansett, an associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and descendant of five Tribes, argues that by understanding Oakes’ life and his movement across the United States in the 1960s, we can better understand the origins of the Red Power movement. Although both his time on Alcatraz and his life ended in tragedy, his legacy is lasting and undeniable, as Native people staged fish-ins and occupations across North America based on his inspiring leadership.

Following the presentation by Blansett, there will be a roundtable discussion and audience Q&A that will include Doug George-Kanentiio, a founding member of the Native American Journalists Association and vice president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge; and Tom Porter Sakokwanonkwas, an Akwesasne Mohawk elder, spiritual leader and author.

The program is sponsored by the Ithaca College Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity and the Cornell University American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program.