The Red Power movement refers to efforts by Native Americans in the 1960s and 1970s to improve their social and economic conditions. The groups involved in this movement include the American Indian Movement, the Lakota Freedom Movement, the National Council on Indian Opportunity and the National Indian Youth Council.
The Red Power movement arose in response to social and economic conditions Native Americans faced in the mid-20th century. Most Native Americans lived in extreme poverty, and few had access to electricity and running water. The death rates from diseases such as diabetes, pneumonia and strep throat were higher than the rest of the U.S. population. The movement advocated for improved living conditions and the return of Native American land from the federal government.
The groups involved in the Red Power movement held protests to gain attention for their cause. One well-known protest took place in November 1969 when protesters took over the abandoned prison at Alcatraz. During another protest on Thanksgiving Day in 1970, protesters painted Plymouth Rock red.
The Red Power movement was successful in achieving some of its goals. In the 1970s, Congress passed the Indian Education, Indian Health Care and Indian Child Welfare Acts. These laws provided Native Americans greater control over these areas of their lives. During the same period, the Sioux tribe of South Dakota successfully sued the federal government over land that it had seized from them. The Sioux received a $105 million settlement from the government.