The Life and Legacy of Richard Oakes

Every nation in the world has got its history. The US history narrates how European settlers come to America and found that the Native Americans had settled there for thousands of years. 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. As a result, the natives have always gone up in arms against the powers that be to restore their inheritance. In essence, the Native Americans have for a long time fought for self-determination. Since this injustices took place a long time ago, it may be a challenge to correct the past.

Richard Oakes, has influenced positive changes in the Native America drive for a better life. He was one of the Native Americans who was lucky to have had a formal education. While at a local university in California, the Alcatraz occupation mission was born. After the closure of the Alcatraz penitentiary, the natives so an opening to occupy the land. 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 claimed they were within their rights based on the 1868 treaty. The large team caught the coast guards unawares. The only way to get rid of this group was through force. The government decided to use peaceful means to resolve the issue. The occupation lasted for a record nineteen months.

More and more natives joint the struggle as days went by. All these people had a common goal. Oakes and his fellow students provided leadership for the people. At the initial stages they were very organized and determined. Fellow citizens and the international community were sympathetic and willing to help in any way they could. The supporters brought clothes, food, fresh water and financial aid. The activist were so organized that the broadcasted their plight on radio everyday.

Things never remained the same after Oakes lost his stepdaughter. 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. 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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