Oklahoma, Indian Country, American Indian Movement, National Indian Youth Council, United Native Indian Tribal Youth, Education, Nineteen Seventies, Iranian Revolution, Media, Pawnee


In the first years of the 1970s, Indian Country became paradoxically more interwoven and yet also more divided. Three case studies from Oklahoma’s Indigenous communities illustrate this transformation. Beginning in the mid-1960s, a boom in Indigenous media allowed Indigenous people to communicate far more quickly over once prohibitive distances. In western Oklahoma, Southern Cheyenne parents relied upon Navajo ideas to form their own indigenous controlled school in early 1973. As a result of these exchanges between previously removed people, new indigenous communities emerged along ideological lines rather than those of tribal citizenship or ethnic identity. A few months earlier, the National Indian Youth Council’s Oklahoma chapters, one such evolving ideological community out of many in the United States, successfully brought attention to and changed a key state policy affecting indigenous students in public schools. Even as Indigenous activists collaborated with new vigor, corresponding divisions emerged in existing Indigenous communities; Native people began to debate the meaning of the messages new communities popularized. The American Indian Movement attempted to hold its 1973 national convention at Pawnee, Oklahoma, only to find that Indigenous people in the region did not support the gathering as the movement’s leaders anticipated. Together, these three case studies present a portrait of a diverse, indigenous world that facilitated collaboration through Native media yet wrought with emerging ideological schisms.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.