Critiques: Depiction of Indian Activism as an Agent for Change

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, American Indian Movement, Bureau of Indian Affairs Pages: 4 (1264 words) Published: November 1, 2013
Critiques: Depiction of Indian Activism as an Agent for Change Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior’s Like A Hurricane sheds light on remarkable Indian activism that U.S. history textbooks tend to overshadow. Up to1996, they argue that this era was only illustrated through the perspectives of sympathetic non-Indians who disagreed with how Federal policy dealt with Indians. Though each author has special ties to the movement they write about – Smith, a Comanche, served on the American Indian Movement’s International Treaty Council, and Warrior, an Osage, founded the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – the book is not written from their own perspectives. Rather, the pair effectively drew from accounts of “the eyes of urban Indian rebels, conservative tribal chairmen, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials, White House aides, and others” to portray the stories of the movement from a fairly objective point of view – and when the authors stray from objective, the subjective is presented from various vantage points to eliminate overt bias.1 The authors use the terms ‘activism’ and ‘movement’ to describe a short period of time between 1969 and 1973 when Indian people “staged a campaign resistance and introspection unmatched in this century”.2 Indeed, the deepest motivation of Like a Hurricane is to counter the aforementioned non-Indian sympathizers’ belief that Indians are victims and to instead contend that American Indians fought for their futures and in so doing, altered American Indian and American history during this time period. This book review will evaluate the relative success of Warrior and Smith’s depiction of Native activists as agents for change through their choice of stories to represent the entire Indian activist movement. It will also examine the successes and limitations of the authors’ use of the ‘superman complex’ as a depiction of the Native agent for change.

If Smith and Warrior’s chief goal was to illustrate the...
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