Think Indigenous: Richard Oakes and the Red Power Movement

Streaming Media

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Drawing from his recent book, A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement (Yale University Press, 2018), Professor Blansett will discuss Richard Oakes’s critical role in Red Power activism from the 1960s to the 1970s. He will highlight the 50th anniversary of the nineteen-month takeover of Alcatraz Island by the organization Indians of All Tribes. Oakes also helped organize the highly publicized Alcatraz, Fort Lawton, and Pit River takeovers. His assassination in 1972 inspired 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.

Blansett will explore this movement through the lens of Akwesasne Mohawk activist Richard Oakes and how his actions reflected a unique voice of Indigenous leadership within the Red Power movement. Richard Oakes’s life story highlights the development of Indian Cities in Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Seattle while uncovering the intersections of Native Nationalism and Red Power in this dynamic era of American history.

Dr. Kent Blansett is a Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi descendant from the Blanket, Panther, and Smith families. He is the Langston Hughes Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies and History at the University of Kansas. Professor Blansett also serves as the founder and Executive Director for the American Indian Digital History Project. His latest book, 18 years in the making, is the first biography to explore the dynamic life and times of Akwesasne Mohawk student leader Richard Oakes, who was a key figure in the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz Island by the organization Indians of All Tribes.