Performative Protest and the Lost Contours of Red Power Activism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The historical mapping of the Red Power movement is dominated by a handful of monumental events, and the intervening Native activism is often overshadowed by these summits. This article seeks to reveal the lost contours of the landscape and to rethink the ‘classic’ Red Power narrative. It argues that the lesser-known events and activism had a distinctively performative element to them that, in turn, was comprised of two strands: the first was a critical engagement with sites or symbols of national identity-making and, by extension, with narratives and ideas of patriotism. Secondly, such acts were often animated by a playful and ironic sense of humour. Merging a discussion of this performative rhetoric with analyses of events that have often sat in the shadows of the peaks of the struggle – the plan to occupy Ellis Island, protests at Mount Rushmore, the plan to take the Statue of Liberty ‘hostage’, and protests such as the 1976 Trail of Self-Determination – uncovers a much richer, nuanced and complicated ideological engagement with Red Power activism that is largely absent from current scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-237
Number of pages224
JournalComparative American Studies: An International Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • Red power, performative protest, humour, identity, trail of self-determination, Alcatraz


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