May 22 (UPI) — Google is celebrating what would have been the 75th birthday of American Indian activist Richard Oakes with a new Doodle.
Google’s homepage features artwork depicting Oakes alongside important locations from his life including the Mohawk Indian reservation in Akwesasne, Alcatraz Island and Pit River.
Oakes was born on the Akwesasne reservation located on the Canadian and New York border. He played a part in creating one of the first American Indian studies programs in the nation shortly after enrolling into San Francisco State University.
“Oakes went on to be a champion for social justice in his community,” Google wrote. “His most powerful protest happened in 1969 when he led a group of activists occupying Alcatraz Island. The aim was not only to set up a community, complete with a university, museum and cultural center, but also for the government to acknowledge the rights of American Indians to claim the out-of-use federal land as their own.”
He was unsuccessful in securing the deed to Alcatraz Island, but, Google says, Oakes “brought their issues into the media spotlight and made a substantial impact on the treatment of American Indians in the U.S.” Oakes also helped the Pit River Tribe in their claim for land in Northern California.
“Here’s to Richard Oakes, for his unwavering dedication to his community and social justice,” the company noted.
Oakes was shot dead on September 20, 1972 after he confronted a camp manager at the YMCA over the treatment of American Indian children.