Beginning with Congressional efforts to terminate the sovereignty of federally-recognized tribes in 1953, the federal government's final efforts to assimilate American Indians parodoxically created the conditions for an urban pan-Indian movement for self-determination. Cities such as San Francisco swelled with alienated and militant young Indians seeking to reestablish a sense of place and community. On 20 November, 1969 a group calling themselves the Indians of All Tribes seized and occupied Alcatraz Island in the name of "all tribes." The 19-month long occupation grew into the crucible of contemporary American Indian activism, symbolizing a larger project of reclaiming a homeland for the indigenous peoples of North America. The occupation is referred to by many as the foundation of the concept of Red Power: a militant language, or way of speaking, that channels the American Indian community's intellectual and rhetorical power into the creation of a homeland. This project examines the rhetoric of the Indians of All Tribes to explain the features, tropes, symbols, utterances, and performances which constitute Red Power. Starting with the emergence of self-determination in separatist American Indian literary, underground press, and the speeches and minutes of emergent radical protest organizations, this project historicizes the concept of Red Power that informed the occupant's rhetorical and material practices. This dissertation examines the rhetoric of the Indians of All Tribes to demonstrate the ways in which the group's militant demands, radical interpretation of American history, and defense of traditional Indian practices constructed and affirmed a positive collective identity for many alienated and disempowered Indians grappling with the intersectional experience between urban and reservation life.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2009. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Kirt H. Wilson. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 336 pages.
Kelly, Casey Ryan.
The rhetoric of Red Power and the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-1971).
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