Sunday, November 3, 2019

Two Michigan Universities Hosting Alcatraz Occupation Veterans to Campuses

By Monica Whitepigeon - November 03, 2019 at 10:08PM

The Alcatraz Occupation lasted 19 months and 9 days. Photograph courtesy of Ilka Hartmann

November is Native American Heritage Month

Published on November 3, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan Universities are hosting two separate events with panel conversations with two veterans, LaNada War Jack (Shoshone Bannock Tribes) and Lenny Foster (Navajo), who participated in the All Indian Nations occupation of the Alcatraz Island that took place 50 years ago this month.

From November 1969 to July 1971, a group of American Indians took over and occupied Alcatraz Island led by Richard Oakes (Mohawk) LaNada Boyer, and Grace Thorpe (Sac and Fox), who was the daughter of Olympic great, Jim Thorpe and Tuscarora medicine man, Mad Bear Anderson. The group was called the Alcatraz Red Power Movement and was also known as the “Indians of All Tribes.”

The conversations at both universities will be moderated by Levi Rickert (Potawatomi), publisher and editor of Native News Online.

“Given the two speakers were young students 50 years ago and basically put their lives on hold so they could play an active role in the beginning to a movement of modern-day American Indian activism that has continued to Standing Rock and beyond is quite significant,” says Rickert. “I am pleased the two Michigan universities see the value in hearing from these two important voices. I think both guests have a lot to contribute to students today as this country faces a leadership crisis.”

Two Guests

Both War Jack and Foster have spent their lives working to advance the progress of Native people across Indian Country:

LaNada War Jack at Alcatraz Island during occupation.

Dr. LaNada War Jack is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes where she lives on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. In January of 1968, she was the first Native American student enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated with honors in an Independent Major of Native American Law & Politics.

In 1969, Dr. War Jack, LaNada Means and students throughout California united together to take over Alcatraz Island in a peaceful protest against the federal government’s ill-treatment of the Native Indigenous people and the federal government repeatedly breaking of treaties with tribes.

Dr. War Jack is currently a Distinguished Professor at Boise State University teaching federal Indian Law/Tribal Government.

Her book, entitled “Native Resistance: An Intergenerational Fight for Survival and Life” will be released on November 11, 2019. The book provides a history of a movement that has led to positive change for the better of American Indians lives during the past 50 years.

Lenny Foster, two weeks ago, attending the Congress of American Indians Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Native News Online photograph by Levi Rickert

Lenny Foster grew up in Fort Defiance, Arizona, with his mother and his father, a Navajo code talker during World War II. Lenny attended an Indian school as a day student and lived with his grandparents on a traditional Navajo sheep camp over the summers. In 1970, he was involved in the occupation of Alcatraz and, in 1972, in the Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan and the Bureau of Indian Affairs take-over in Washington, D.C. He took part in the 71-day protest at Wounded Knee in 1973.

Eventually, he realized that his heart lay in this work, and he left his graduate program to pursue it full time. In 1983, the Navajo Nation tribal government began to support his efforts to provide spiritual counsel to incarcerated Native Americans. He served as the Spiritual Advisor and Director of the Navajo Nations Corrections Project, he was responsible for the traditional spiritual guidance of 1500 inmates in 89 state and federal penitentiaries until his retirement in 2017.

He still serves as the spiritual advisor to AIM leader Leonard Peltier, who is considered
a political prisoner.



“50 Years Later: A Conversation with Dr. LaNada War & Lenny Foster”


Monday, November 4, 2019, at 4 pm


Grand Valley State University—Kirkhof Center (Grand River Room-Second Floor)
Allendale, Michigan 49401



“A Conversation with Native American Activists: Lessons in Healing, Resistance & Leadership” – An evening of provocative discussion recalling what happened 50 years ago at Alcatraz Island


Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at 6 pm


Western Michigan University—Bernhard Center Ballroom
1903 West Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49525

The post Two Michigan Universities Hosting Alcatraz Occupation Veterans to Campuses appeared first on Native News Online.

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