Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2011


Great Plains Research Vol. 21, No. 2, 2011


© 2011 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


While many histories of the "Red Power" movement trace its origins to the founding of the American Indian Movement in Minneapolis during 1968 and the occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay a year later, Bradley G. Shreve offers a compelling case that youth activism began during the 1950s, most notably in the Southwest. The Kiva Club (University of New Mexico), the Tribe of Many Feathers (Brigham Young University), and the Sequoyah Club of Oklahoma, among others, joined into the Regional Indian Youth Council in 1959 and the National Indian Youth Council in 1961. In contrast to AIM, which emerged from urban areas, NIYC was mainly rural and reservation-based. Members of the NIYC made fishing rights in Washington State their first major policy thrust in 1964; activism was aimed at sovereignty, treaty rights, cultural preservation, and self-determination, all of which have shaped Indigenous development since. The NIYC was the first to use the phrase "Red Power." One ofNIYC's major leaders was Clyde Warrior, a full-blood Ponca who had been raised traditionally by his maternal grandparents. Warrior was a "towering intellect," a fiery orator, and a "mesmerizing" fancy dancer who also consumed "legendary amounts of tequila [and] whiskey before passing out." He died of liver failure at age 28 in 1968.