Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Media Reviews

University of Oklahoma Press (2011)

Review by Ryan Winn

Conversations about American Indian activism often focus on three events: the 1969 reclaiming of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes, the American Indian Movement’s (AIM) occupation of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in 1972, and AIM’s siege of Wounded Knee in 1973. Yet the fact that these events were preceded by the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) is rarely mentioned.

In Red Power Rising, Bradley Shreve (chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at Diné College and a contributor to TCJ) strives to change this by presenting readers with a history of NIYC’s influence while also making a strong case for revising assumptions about the origins of American Indian activism.

Founded in 1961, NIYC not only published periodicals celebrating American Indian culture, its members also led a series of peaceful protests— most notably the “fish-ins” in the state of Washington where they protested a judge’s ruling against the treaty that granted off-season fishing rights to the Swinomish. NIYC were trailblazers, and Shreve’s text helps reposition them back into the activism conversation.

Ryan Winn is the Humanities Department chair at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena and Green Bay, WI.

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