As today would have been his 75th birthday, Today’s Richard Oakes Google Doodle was created in honor of the life of Mohawk Indian rights activist Richard Oakes. During much of the ’60s and ’70s, Oakes, who was an alumni of San Francisco State University, peacefully protested for the rights and recognition of Native American peoples.
The Richard Oakes Google Doodle on the Google.com landing page shows Richard Oakes in the forefront of the image with three significant images of Oakes life in the background. One of the images in the Richard Oakes Google Doodle is of the Akwesasne reserve of the Akwesasne Mohawk people, which is a unique territory that straddles the U.S. and Canadian borders. Alcatraz and Pit River are the other two landmarks.
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) May 22, 2017
Richard Oakes joined the ranks of Grace Thorpe and other Native college students in an occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco that lasted just over 19 months. In 1970, Richard Oakes joined the Pit River Indian nation in an attempt to reclaim their territories from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. In 1972, and at the tragically young of of only 30, Richard Oakes was assassinated by Michael Morgan, a YMCA camp manager who was later acquitted.
Video: Richard Oakes delivering Alcatraz Proclamation in 1969.
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Last November, Google Doodles honored James Welch, Blackfeet/Gros Ventre, on what would have been his 76th birthday, November 18. Welch walked on in 2003 at age 62.
As part of Native American Heritage Month nod on November 18th, 2016 Google also listed the accomplishments of six Native artists, including artist Joan Hill, Muskogee Creek; singer Radmilla Cody, Diné; designer Lloyd Henri New, Cherokee; Musician Supaman (Christian Parrish Takes the Gun), Crow; and ballerina Maria Tallchief, Osage.
Google had also launched a special section of Google Play, “Native American Heritage Reads,” which featured 25 books about or by Native Americans, including Welch’s Fools Crow.
Google’s YouTube Spotlight channel section, “Beats, Rhymes, and Indigenous Life,” featured songs from 17 Native musicians or groups and 10 videos showing pow wow dances.
Read the full Richard Oakes biography in ICMN: Who Was Richard Oakes?
Follow Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) – ICMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wows and Sports Editor – Follow @VinceSchilling