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

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Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement
The first book-length biography of Richard Oakes, a Red Power activist of the 1960s who was a leader in the Alcatraz takeover and the Indigenous rights movement

"A powerful contribution to our understanding of Native American sovereignty, community, human rights, and identity."--Sarah Eppler Janda, American Historical Review

"The nonfiction complement to Tommy Orange's best-selling novel There There. . . . An exemplary work that recovers an important period in modern California history and casts it in a new, richer light."--Randall A. Lake, California History

A revealing portrait of Richard Oakes, the brilliant, charismatic Native American 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, D.C. The life of this pivotal Akwesasne Mohawk activist is explored in an important new biography based on extensive archival research and interviews with key activists and family members.

Historian Kent Blansett offers a transformative and new perspective on the Red Power movement of the turbulent 1960s and the dynamic figure who helped to organize and champion it, telling the full story of Oakes's life, his fight for Native American self-determination, and his tragic, untimely death. This invaluable history chronicles the mid-twentieth-century rise of Intertribalism, Indian Cities, and a national political awakening that continues to shape Indigenous politics and activism to this day.

Publication Date: 
September 8, 2020