Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power

Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power

Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power

Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power

Synopsis

In Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power, Sherry Smith offers the first full account of this remarkable story. Hippies were among the first non-Indians of the post-World War II generation to seek contact with Native Americans. The counterculture saw Indians as genuine holdouts against conformity, inherently spiritual, ecological, tribal, communal-the original "long hairs." Searching for authenticity while trying to achieve social and political justice for minorities, progressives of various stripes and colors were soon drawn to the Indian cause. Black Panthers took part in Pacific Northwest fish-ins. Corky Gonzales' Mexican American Crusade for Justice provided supplies and support for the Wounded Knee occupation. Actor Marlon Brando and comedian Dick Gregory
Thoroughly researched and vividly written, this book not only illuminates this transformative historical moment but contributes greatly to our understanding about social movements.

Excerpt

In January 1966 Stewart Brand found himself in the perfect place for a young man bent on pushing boundaries. San Francisco was a mecca for youthful rebels, and Brand, who would become well known as the creator of the 1970s best-selling Whole Earth Catalog, was in the thick of it. Brand was riding the countercultural wave that was about to crest in that city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in the 1967 Summer of Love. He joined the loosely knit group called the Merry Pranksters with its dazzling cast of characters including writer Ken Kesey. The Pranksters aimed to shed their parents’ supposedly repressive and conformist ways through experimentation with psychedelic drugs, sexual freedom, and music. They lived in the present moment, hoping to break with the past. Brand embraced all this with one noteworthy exception: he appreciated history, at least that aspect linked to Native America.

A son of the Midwest and of privilege, Stewart Brand might have seemed, at first glance, an unlikely recruit to hippiedom. Looking like a cross between a blond California surfer and a long, lanky, youthful Abraham Lincoln, he first graduated from Phillips Exeter prep school and then from Stanford University. A two-year stint in the early 1960s with the U.S. Army followed. The military uniform neither defined nor confined him, however. While stationed in New York, Brand linked up with a community of artists who stressed connections to the natural world and its systems; an approach that resonated with the former biology major. They also expanded the definition of art, creating events or “happenings” that broke down the barriers between artist and audience through electronic light shows, psychedelic drugs, and communal togetherness. Brand’s contribution to this “artistic tribe” was through photography.

It was the camera that brought him to Indian tribes, as well. After the army, Brand returned to the Bay Area where he studied photography at San Francisco State University, participated in a legal LSD study at Menlo Park’s International Foundation for Legal Study, experimented with peyote, and launched his personal odyssey with Indians and the counterculture. When Brand landed a photography . . .

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