by Paul Chaat & Robert Alien Warrior Smith ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 15, 1996
A well-documented, highly readable history of three turbulent years in the history of Native America. American Indian radical politics first drew international attention in the early winter of 1969, when an unknown number of activists, certainly fewer than a hundred, occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. The American Indian Movement, an activist organization, grew to prominence through that action, bringing fame (or notoriety, depending on your viewpoint) to Richard Oakes, Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Browning Pipestem, and John Trudell; it also helped focus Indian activists on developing what movement strategist Clyde Warrior called ""true Indian philosophy geared to modern times."" Native historians Chaat and Warrior (a former Kirkus contributor and Stanford historian; Tribal Secrets, 1994) chart AIM's fortunes through the three years culminating in both Nixon's reelection and the siege at Wounded Knee, S.D., where armed AIM sympathizers held off federal agents for eight weeks while becoming an international cause câ€šlâ€šbre. The period between Alcatraz and Wounded Knee, the authors write, ""was for American Indians every bit as significant as the counterculture was for young whites, or the civil rights movement for blacks."" They make their case with admirable balance, noting that the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, usually the heavy in books of this sort, was full of well-meaning and sympathetic individuals, and that AIM had its share of bad actors, including people who at Alcatraz busied themselves ""bootlegging liquor and thrashing residents who criticized the leadership or who asked too many questions about finances."" Still, the authors argue, most of the activists who put themselves on the line at Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, and elsewhere gave powerful voice to the voiceless peoples hitherto tucked away on reservations, ""the most ignored population in the United States."" This is essential reading for anyone interested in the course of contemporary American Indian politics.
Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1996
Page Count: 400
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996
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