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The man and the movement

Clyde Warrior: Tradition, Community, and Red Power (New Directions in Native American Studies series) - Paul R. McKenzie-Jones

Too often the history of the post-World War II civil rights movement is taught as a predominantly African American one. While the iconic campaigns and events that defined events were those associated with the efforts by African Americans to gain equality, such events overshadow the contemporary efforts by others who weren't African Americans to press for rights, such a Native Americans. One of the early leaders of this movement was Clyde Warrior, a Ponca Indian whose coining of the phrase "Red Power" embodied the demands by him and his supporters for self-determination and an end to the longstanding influence of federal policy upon their lives.


Paul McKenzie-Jones's book goes far towards giving Warrior the recognition Warrior deserves for his efforts. He charts Warrior's life from his youthful practice of fancy dance through his student activism to his research in Native American educational practices. The image of Warrior that emerges is of a passionate person whose charismatic advocacy of Native American causes was cut short tragically by health issues caused by his alcoholism. Yet this image is an indistinct one, as McKenzie-Jones's focus on Warrior's thought and his advocacy comes is exaggerated by the passing coverage Warrior's personal life receives. Warrior's marriage is referenced in passing only, while his daughters rate only a couple of mentions in McKenzie Jones's book. Because of this, the book is best approached as a study of Warrior's ideas and his role in Native American activism rather than a traditional biography. This can be frustrating but it is perhaps fitting, as McKenzie-Jones's focus best allows him to make his case for why Warrior should be better remembered than he is today.