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Like a Hurricane


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During the 1960s and 1970s, a new national identity was forged for Native Americans through demonstrations led by militant leaders. Activist Smith and academic Warrior (Tribal Secrets: Recovering Indian Intellectual Traditions, Univ. of Minnesota, 1994) relate three events central to those changes during the fast-paced, chaotic, and frequently disappointing movement: the takeovers of Alcatraz, the national Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters, and Wounded Knee. The authors discuss all three heavily symbolic and media-dependent events with clear-eyed scrutiny, lauding personal heroism while recognizing instances of flawed leadership. The authors take up contradictory views in the national Indian community and trace the growth of the American Indian Movement (AIM) from its Chippewa beginnings to national influence under the charismatic leadership of Russell Means. Based on archival sources and personal accounts, this work joins another recent title, Means's autobiography, Where White Men Fear To Tread (LJ 10/15/95), in reconstructing events during a turbulent phase of modern Native American history. Recommended for academic and public libraries.‘Margaret W. Norton, Morton West H.S., Berwyn, Ill.

At the outset of this detailed, lively history of the American Indian protest movement in the early 1970s, its authors say that a problem with most other books on Indians (they do not use the term Native Americans) is that they were not written by Indians themselves and that, however sympathetic, they tend to portray Indians as victims and pawns. Smith, described as an activist by the publisher, and Warrior, a professor of history at Stanford, both Indians, have chosen to write about a brief period‘the birth and early days of the American Indian Movement (AIM)‘when American Indians were indeed politically and socially active. The book focuses on three Indian protests‘the 1969 invasion and 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island; the 1972 seizure and trashing of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building in Washington (renamed Native American Embassy for the occasion); and, a year later, the two-month occupation of Wounded Knee, North Dakota, that ended with two dead and 300 Indians under indictment (which effectively bankrupted AIM). Smith and Warrior write clearly and dramatically; they have researched and interviewed well; and although unabashed partisans of the Indian cause, they are frank and even-handed to a point that might be painful to AIM diehards. An important addition to the history of a political movement that has yet to reach its stride. Photos. (Aug.)

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