Monday, May 22, 2017
Blue Crystal Storm/ Blue Electric Monkey - Spectral Serpent Moon of Liberation, Day 20
Richard Oakes, Mohawk (May 22, 1942 - September 20, 1972)
Richard Oakes (May 22, 1942 – September 20, 1972) was a Mohawk Native American activist. He spurred Native American studies in university curricula and changes in US federal government policy toward Native Americans, and led an occupation of Alcatraz Island.
Richard Oakes was born on May 22, 1942, in St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, a location known in Mohawk as Akwesasne, the US portion of a reservation that spills into Canada across the St. Lawrence River. Like many of his ancestors, Oakes spent most of his childhood fishing and planting beans. He then began working at a local dock area on the St. Lawrence Seaway, but was laid off at the age of sixteen, after which he worked as a high steelworker, a job that entailed a great deal of traveling.
While working on the Newport, Rhode Island Bridge, Oakes met and married an Italian/English woman from Bristol, Rhode Island. They had one son, Bryan Oakes, who was born in June 1968. Richard left the two, divorcing his wife, and traveled west. He reached San Francisco and decided to enroll at San Francisco State University. While studying at SFSU, Oakes worked as a bartender in the Mission District of San Francisco, which brought him in contact with the local Native American communities.
Oakes was disappointed with the classes offered and went on to work with an anthropology professor to create one of the first Native American Studies departments in the nation. He developed the initial curriculum and encouraged other Native Americans to enroll at San Francisco State University. At the same time, the Mohawk National Council was forming and traveling in troupes to fight oppression of Mohawk religion by means of peaceful protest, which they called White Roots of Peace. In the spring of 1969, Oakes met the members of the White Roots of Peace, who encouraged him to take a stand and fight for what he believed in. Oakes had also gained the support of many students. He went on to play an integral role in the Occupation of Alcatraz. Also in 1969, he married Annie Marufo, who was part of the Pomo Nation, and Oakes adopted all five of her children.
In 1969, Oakes led a group of students and urban Bay Area Native Americans in an occupation of Alcatraz Island that would last until 1971. He also recruited 80 UCLA students from the American Indian Studies Center.
Many other Nations had already attempted to circle the island in boats but all were unsuccessful. When boats stopped during their course, Oakes chose to swim through the rest of the Bay and directly took control of the island. Indigenous Americans of various Nations joined Oakes and staged the longest occupation of a federal facility by Native American people.
The historic occupation was made up initially of young indigenous college students from around San Francisco and UCLA. Oakes was considered a noted activist during the occupation according to The American Indian Quarterly.
Oakes had control of the island from the very beginning, with an organizational council put into effect immediately. Everyone had a job, including security, sanitation, day care, schooling, cooking, and laundry. All decisions were made by the unanimous consent of the people.
IDC: “To better the lives of all Indian people” by making “known to the world that we have a right to use our land for our own benefit” through reclaiming Alcatraz “in name of all American Indians by right of discovery.” (Taken from “The Alcatraz Proclamation to the great White Father and his People”).
In 1970 the island began to fall into disarray. On January 5, 1970 Oakes' 12-year-old adopted daughter, Yvonne, fell to her death from concrete steps. After her funeral, Oakes and Marufo left the island.
Conflicts over leadership and the influx of non-indigenous Americans diminished the important stance of the original occupants. In June 1971 the United States government removed the remaining 15 occupants from the island.
While Oakes and his followers did not succeed in obtaining the island, they did affect U.S. policy and the treatment of Indians. As a result of the occupation, the official U.S. government policy of termination of Indian tribes was ended and replaced by a policy of Indian self-determination.
After leaving Alcatraz, Oakes continued his resistance. He helped the Pit River Tribe in their attempts to regain nearly 3 million acres of land that had been seized by Pacific Gas & Electric. Oakes also planned to create a "mobile university" dedicated to creating opportunity for Native Americans, but this never came to fruition. As a result of his activism, he endured tear gas, billy clubs, and brief stints in jail.
Soon after, Oakes was shot and killed in Sonoma, California, by Michael Morgan, a YMCA camp manager. Morgan had a reputation for being rough with Native American children. Oakes reportedly confronted him, and Morgan responded by drawing a handgun and fatally shooting him. Oakes was unarmed when he was shot. Morgan was charged with voluntary manslaughter. He was acquitted in a jury trial on the grounds that Oakes was being aggressive and Morgan was acting in self-defense.
Oakes died on September 20, 1972 in Sonoma, California, at the age of 30.*
Kin 259: Blue Crystal Storm
I dedicate in order to catalyze
I seal the matrix of self-generation
With the crystal tone of cooperation
I am guided by the power of magic.
Every culture has its particular set of images and symbols which define the nature of mind and consciousness in everyday life.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Manipura Chakra (Limi Plasma)