Dean Chavers: Heroes from Indian Country and elsewhere

"Despite being controversial, Richard Oakes remains one of my heroes. Richard was the undisputed leader of the Alcatraz occupation; he started it all. I wrote a chapter in a forthcoming book about all the positive changes that have happened after Alcatraz. They include ICWA, 638, NAGPRA, AIRFA, and a dozen other laws and programs. Richard and LaNada Boyer from Fort Hall were the people who made Alcatraz happen.

When I was still a young whippersnapper, I met Roger Jourdain¸who was Chairman at Red Lake for 36 years. He adopted me, more or less, by 1970. Roger was the first person at NCAI who started using the term “tribal sovereignty.” Other tribal leaders, who had been beaten down and cowed by the BIA, used to look at him and ask what he was talking about.

He and Wendell Chino from Mescalero brought the term back into use, by their advocacy as well as their actions. They took a lot of heat. People from Red Lake burned Roger’s house down. His wife Margaret and their kids got out just in time."

Get the Story:
Dean Chavers: AROUND THE CAMPFIRE: We All Have Heroes (The Native American Times 4/14)

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