A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement

Published January 8, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Join California Historical Society and the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) for an evening of learning about Richard Oakes, the American Indian leader who was instrumental in the takeovers of Alcatraz, Fort Lawton, and Pit River, and whose assassination in 1972 galvanized the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington, DC.

Speakers include Professor Kent Blansett, author of A Journey to Freedom Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement, and Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council. The event will be MC’d by Morning Star Gali and representatives from the Oakes family will be present and joining the conversation.

Blansett is an associate professor of history and Native American studies at University of Nebraska at Omaha and he is a descendant of five Tribes: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi. His new book is entitled A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement which was published by Yale University Press. His book is the first biography of Akwesasne Mohawk leader Richard Oakes, who played a major role in the infamous 1969 takeover of Alcatraz Island by the organization Indians of All Tribes (IAT). Beyond Alcatraz, Oakes’s leadership was instrumental in the Pit River, Clear Lake, Elem, Wintu, Kashaya, and Fort Lawton liberation struggles. His assassination in 1972 sparked the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington. A Journey to Freedom is the culmination of 18 years of archival research from New York to California as well as a number of interviews with veteran activists and family members. His book also explores the larger urban Indian experience throughout the Bay Area and investigates the origins of Native Nationalism and the Red Power movement.

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