TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Northeastern State University will welcome Dr. Kent Blansett, author and Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies and History at the University of Kansas to present the 2023 T. L. Ballenger Lecture on Feb. 1 at 3:30 p.m. in the Morgan Room of the University Center.
Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the department of history, the lecture is open to students, faculty, staff and the community.
The Ballenger lecture series is an annual presentation by a leading history scholar of cutting-edge research in their area of expertise. Blansett will discuss Akwesasne Mohawk Richard Oakes's critical role in Red Power activism from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Blansett is a Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee and Potawatomi descendant from the Blanket, Panther and Smith families and an expert on Red Power activism. Blansett’s first book “A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement” published by the New Haven: Yale University Press in 2018 is being made into a major motion picture.
Dr. Iain Anderson, NSU professor and history department chair, said Oakes is best known for leading the occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969, which helped spur a change in federal policy toward the tribes from termination to self-determination. Oakes also helped establish the first university Native American Studies department at San Francisco State.
“I hope students learn to think critically about the past through the example of Dr. Blansett's research and scholarship, and that they leave knowing something new about the past that helped shape the world they live in,” Anderson said.
Blansett is also a co-editor of the recent anthology, “Indian Cities: Histories of Indigenous Urbanization,” which was just published by the University of Oklahoma Press. In addition, he has written numerous articles and book chapters ranging from the Cherokee Nation in the Civil War to the Red Power Movement.
He also serves as the founder and executive director for the American Indian Digital History Project, a digital history cooperative founded to recover and preserve rare Indigenous newspapers, photographs and archival materials from all across Native North America.