Montana State University

Friends of Stegner lecture to be held April 11, focus on hippies, Indians and fight for Red Power

April 2, 2012 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- Sherry Smith, Distinguished Professor of History at Southern Methodist University, will give the 2012 Montana State University "Friends of Stegner" lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in the Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building.

The lecture is free and open to the public with tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. A reception before the lecture will start at 6 p.m. in the lobby outside of the theater.

The lecture, titled "Hippies, Indians and the Fight for Red Power," is based on Smith's most recent book of the same title. In her lecture, Smith will discuss the loose but remarkable coalition of hippies, leftists, Quakers and other progressive religious groups, civil rights and black power nationalists, celebrities and housewives, unions and Midwestern farmers who supported Red Power activists who fought for Indian rights in the 1960s and 1970s.

Hippies were among the first non-Indians of the post-World War II era to seek contacts with Native Americans, according to Smith. The counterculture saw Indians as genuine holdouts against conformity, inherently spiritual, ecological, tribal, communal -- the original "long hairs." Searching for authenticity while trying to bring to achieve social and political justice for minorities, progressives of various stripes and colors were soon drawn to the Indian cause. For their part, Indians understood that they could not achieve political change without help. Non-Indians had to be educated and enlisted. Indians found among this hodgepodge of Americans willing recruits to their campaign for recognition of treaty rights; realization of tribal power, sovereignty, self determination, and protection of reservations as cultural homelands. Smith's lecture will focus on the California slice of this story.

Smith's lecture is sponsored by the Wallace Stegner Endowed Chair in Western Studies at MSU. The chair continues Stegner's legacy by focusing on teaching and research in history, literature, and philosophy with a concentration on pressing Western issues. The Stegner Lecture is hosted each year by the MSU Department of History and Philosophy. Past Friends of Stegner speakers included Terry Tempest Williams and Jane Goodall.

Community members are also invited to attend a book signing with Smith at the Country Bookshelf from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on April 11.

For more information, contact: Jessica Marks in the Department of History and Philosophy, Jessica.marks2@monta na.edu.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu