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Richard Oakes and the Struggle of the Native Americans

Every nation in the world has got its history. Native Americans had occupied a vast land of today’s USA before the European settlers arrived. The natives occupied a vast portion of the land. The European settlers used diverse means to occupy the natives’ land.

The entrance of the settlers caused the natives to suffer diverse injustices. In response, different activist groups have tried for a long time to protest against these injustices. In essence, the Native Americans have for a long time fought for self-determination. This is not an easy thing to achieve because the natives are a minority, and their story goes back many centuries gone by.

Richard Oakes left a mark in the Native American’s struggle. Oakes had some formal education. While attending higher learning education at the State of California University, Oakes and fellow activities made a decision to take over the Alcatraz Island. After the closure of the Alcatraz penitentiary, the natives so an opening to occupy the land. Government officials swung into action to neutralize this attempts.

In 1969, Oakes in the company of eighty nine others, sailed to Alcatraz. The activists got there in the morning and made claim to the ‘rock’. They claimed they were within their rights based on the 1868 treaty. Due to their large numbers they overpowered the coast guards. There was no way the government would evict all these people without causing an ugly scene. The government decided to use peaceful means to resolve the issue. The occupation went on for nineteen months.

This group was joined by many other natives in the subsequent days. They all come together with the same objective in mind. Oakes and his fellow students provided leadership for the people. At the initial stages they were very organized and determined. They got a lot of local and international attention and support. This support was financial as well as material. The activist were so organized that the broadcasted their plight on radio everyday.

The tragic event of the death of Oakes stepdaughter changed the course of the struggle. The death of the child broke the camel’s back and Oakes decided to desert the mission and leave the Island. His exit left a leadership vacuum and the remaining activist had a power struggle. A large number of the activists abandoned the struggle and went back home or to school. Eventually, only a group of fifteen people remained and were eventually evicted by the federal agencies. The struggle was not in vain as the government heeded to the demands of the natives at a later stage and allowed them to occupy the island.

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