Google is using its Doodle this Monday to celebrate the life of Native American activist Richard Oakes.
Monday would have been Oakes’ 75th birthday, had he not been fatally shot in 1972 at the age of 30 in California. Oakes, a Mohawk, grew up on a reservation in Akwesasne, New York. He moved to San Francisco when he was 18. He spent much of the 1960s and early ’70s campaigning for the rights of Native Americans, including the right to control their lands. He also helped create one of the first Native American studies departments during his enrollment at San Francisco State University.
Oakes was best known for his occupation of Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay that began in late 1969 and lasted until mid-1971. He led a group of fellow activists with the aim of setting up a community on the island, complete with a university, museum and cultural center. He did not succeed, but his actions helped put the treatment of Native Americans by the US government in the spotlight. After the Alcatraz occupation, he helped the Pit River Tribe in California in its effort to reclaim land.