American Indian activism to close 1960s exhibit

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Concluding the Revolutionary Decade of the 1960s exhibits in Booth Library will be a presentation on American Indian activism at 4 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Witters Conference Room 4440.

Don Holly, a professor of anthropology, will be presenting the discussion officially called “A Phoenix Rising: American Indian Activism in the 1960s.”

Holly said the presentation would talk about Native American cultures and the focus of American Indian activism in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The presentation will also include a connection with the civil rights movement, which began in the early ‘50s and continued to the late ‘60s.

The American Indians were inspired by the sit-ins and marches of the movement.

They borrowed some strategies, but their actions were a little different, Holly said.

“It was sort of like that idea,” Holly said.

For example, instead of having sit-ins, the American Indians had something called a “fish-in” where they would openly fish in certain areas where state laws prohibited them unless they had a permit, certain gear size, or other requirements, Holly said.

From much of their activism, they developed a sort of Pan-Indian aspect, which is unity among those from different tribes of American Indians, Holly said.

Holly said the government started programs to help get American Indians into urban cities using grants, but that may have also been another way of attempting to assimilate them.

One of the interesting aspects about American Indian activism is the American Indiana Movement, which started in Minneapolis.

Originally called the Indian Patrol, which was modeled after the Black Panther Party, the American Indians’ goal was to protect one another from police harassment, and they would drive around with radios and scanners.

If a fellow American Indian were to have any issues or confrontation with the police, they would arrive at the scene and take photos for evidence, Holly said.

Holly said they would also protest similarly to African-Americans at this time as well; they even occupied Alcatraz in 1969 for nearly two years.

Holly added their movements and activism were a large part of the ‘60s, which may not be well known.

“It’s a part of the ‘60s that some people might not be aware of,” Holly said. 

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]