Hank Adams, once described by Vine Deloria, Jr. as being “The most important Indian” in the country, will be sharing with us on KAOS 89.3 fm. Hank is one of the iconic figures in the American Indian civil rights movement. An Assiniboine-Sioux from Montana, he moved to the Northwest as a youth and never left. It would be difficult to find an event during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s that Hank Adams was not involved in. He was a central figure in the struggle of the Northwest coast tribes to secure their inherent fishing rights.
In 1971 he was shot in the stomach while guarding Indian fishing nets, allegedly by white fishermen. Adams and the other Indian fishing activists preserved, and eventually their acts of resistance not only helped bring about the landmark court case U.S. v. Washington – the Boldt decision – but proved to be the impetus for an entire movement. Hank Adams was everywhere during this time period: Alcatraz, the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan, and Wounded Knee were just a few of the events in which he played a key role in. Adams was in many respects the “intellectual genius” of the movement, and wrote numerous position papers, including “The Twenty Points,” regarded as one of the most comprehensive Indigenous policy proposals ever devised.
Recently Dr. David E. Wilkins edited a collection of his best writings in a volume entitled The Hank Adams Reader (2012). In 2006, Indian Country Today named Hank as recipient of its third (Billy Frank, Jr. and Deloria being the first and second respectively) American Indian Visionary Award. Recently Hank Adams was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Native leadership from Northwest Indian College.
Photo by Kimberly Adams
Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. Her grandfather, a white settler, farmer, and veterinarian, was a member of the Oklahoma Socialist Party and Industrial Workers of the World. Her historical memoir, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie, tells that story. Moving to San Francisco, California, she graduated in History from San Francisco State University and began graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, transferring to University of California, Los Angeles to complete her doctorate in History, specializing in Western Hemisphere and Indigenous histories, also active in the anti-Vietnam War. From 1967 to 1972, she was a full time activist and a leader in the women’s liberation movement that emerged in 1967, organizing in various parts of the U. S., traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Cuba. A second historical memoir, Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975, tells that story. In 1974, Roxanne joined the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights, lobbying for Indigenous rights at the United Nations. Appointed as director of Native American Studies at California State University East Bay, she collaborated in the development of the Department of Ethnic Studies, as well as Women’s Studies, where she taught for 3 decades. Her 1977 book, The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation, was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians of the Americas, held at United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Two more scholarly books followed: Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico and Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self Determination. In 1981, Roxanne was invited to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Mískitu Indians in the isolated northeastern region of the country. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras, she monitored what was called the Contra War. Her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, was published in 2005. Her book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States was published by Beacon Press in September 2014.