“Marvelous and affecting... . a story book to be read aloud or on long nights when sleep won't come, a pan-tribal book about race and racial conflict, about blood descendants and faith and the urban landscape and federal Indian policy. About homelands and grief, and the 'hurricanes' of fleeting moments when a cause taken to its zenith changed Indian lives forever.”
—Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Indian Country Today
It's the mid-1960's, and everyone is fighting back. Black Americans are fighting for civil rights, the counterculture is trying to subvert the Vietnam War, and women are fighting for their liberations.
Indians were fighting, too, thought it's a fight few have documented, and even fewer remember. At the time, newspapers and television broadcast were filled with images of Indian activists staging dramatic events such as the seizure of Alcatraz in 1969, the storming of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building on the eve of Nixon's re-election in 1972, and the American Indian Movement (AIM)-supported seizure of Wounded Knee by the Oglala Sioux in 1973. Like a Hurricane puts these events into historical context and provides one of the first narrative accounts of that momentous period.
Unlike most other books written about American Indians, this book does not seek to persuade readers that government policies were cruel and misguided. Nor is it told from the perspective of outsiders looking in. Written by two American Indians, Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior. Like a Hurricane is a gripping account of how for a brief, but brilliant, season Indians strategized to change the course and tone of American Indian-U.S. government interaction. Unwaveringly honest, it analyzes not only the period's successes but also its failures.
Smith and Warrior have gathered together the stories of both the leaders and foot soldiers of AIM, conservative tribal leaders, top White House aides, and the ordinary citizens caught up in the maelstrom of activity that would shape a new generation of political thought. Here are the insider accounts of how local groups coalesced to form a national movement for change. Here, too, is a clear-eyed assessment of the period's key leaders: the fancy dance revolutionary Clyde Warrior, the enigmatic Hank Adams, and AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means. The result is a human story of drama, sacrifice, triumph, and tragedy that gives a ground-level view of events that forever changes the lives of Americans, particularly American Indians.
Bob Dylan once described the decade he reluctantly owned this way: 'It was like a flying saucer that landed. Everybody heard about it, but only a few saw it.' If that was generally true for the often surrealistic, flesh-and-blood carnival of the 1960s, it was a particularly dead-on description for the fast and furious campaign American Indian activists waged during that time.
For most of those who did not directly experience the surge of activism it has all but faded from memory. If it is recalled at all, it is as a series of photojournalistic images of Indians with bandannas and rifles courtesy of television reports from the presatellite age. For others it is only known through Hollywood reconstructions like Thunderheart or the permanent celebrity status of movement leaders like Russell Means and John Trudell. read more...