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The Life and Legacy of Richard Oakes

Like many other countries, the United States has its story tacked in the past. Native Americans had occupied a vast land of today’s USA before the European settlers arrived. During those days, the natives laid claim to large chunks of land. At the time, the European settlers used force and treaties to take over the native’s land.

The entrance of the settlers caused the natives to suffer diverse injustices. From time to time, natives stage demonstrations in order to get some justice for past events. In essence, the Native Americans have for a long time fought for self-determination. Historical injustices is never easy to correct.

Richard Oakes, has influenced positive changes in the Native America drive for a better life. Fortunately, Oakes acquired 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 US government closed the Alcatraz penitentiary in the early sixties, some Native Americans had made several attempts to occupy it. The initial attempts were quickly neutralized by the law enforcement agencies.

However, in 1969, there was no stopping Oakes and other natives from sailing to Alcatraz. They arrived at the Island in the early morning hours and laid claim to it. They reckoned they had a legal standing based on the 1868 treaty. Due to their large numbers they overpowered the coast guards. There would be unnecessary blood shed if the government intervened. 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 were united behind a common struggle. The people looked up to Oakes and his friends for direction. During the early days everyone was focused and determined to see this course to the end. They got a lot of local and international attention and support. The support was in form of finances, food, water and clothing supplies. The activist were so organized that the broadcasted their plight on radio everyday.

There was a turn of events when Oakes lost his stepdaughter who fell from a high step. Oakes family was devastated and they backed out of the struggle and returned home. Every one now wanted to ascend to power. A large number of the activists abandoned the struggle and went back home or to school. Only a handful of people were left in the Island and this gave the federal government an opportunity to pounce. Notably, at a later stage the government allowed the Native Americans to use the Alcatraz Island for their social and cultural activities.

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