Red Paint: The Defacing of Colonial Structures as Decolonization
"Peace and Freedom. Welcome. Home of the Free Indian Land." Or perhaps it can be read as "Welcome Peace and Freedom [This is the] Home of Free Indian Land." With an absence of punctuation, this message, handwritten in red paint on Alcatraz's water tower, invites rereading and repositioning. Originally painted in 1969, the writing can still be seen today. The tower sits on the northwest side of the island, coming into view too as ferries bring 1.7 million annual tourists to Alcatraz from San Francisco's waterfront. The former prison facilities became a national park in 1973, maintained and operated by the United States Federal Government's National Park Service. The red painted message, inscribed on a towering federal structure, is a lingering reminder of the occupations of the island by Indigenous activists between 1964 and 1971.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
This article opens with an exploration of the Alcatraz occupation and an unpacking of the messages painted onto the closed prison as they frame the further case studies below. Not only were the 1960s protest movements and specifically the occupation of the island a watershed moment of long building constructions of broader Indigenous identity formation as it coalesced under national connections, but this moment of protest can be seen as solidifying a foundation on which a global Indigenous decolonization movement is being built and painted in red.
The inscription on the tower declaring and claiming the island "Free Indian Land" creates an enduring text. It recolors the white tower in red paint. It subverts the towering structure from a state controlled panoptic tool of surveillance into a new text that highlights, in red, a bloodstained past of violence and disenfranchisement.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> It is this rewriting of narratives that makes the water tower on Alcatraz a text of decolonizing literature playing out in public spaces.
The water tower's inscription, in fact, is a literal palimpsest. After decades of exposure to high ocean winds and salt-water corrosion, the painted message had faded and chipped away to be illegible. The water tower itself had rusted and become unstable. In 2012, after spending $1.5 million and nearly a year on the construction, the water tower was rebuilt. The National Park Service took the unprecedented step of replicating the message, perhaps the only time the "federal government [was] in the business of preserving graffiti" according to National Park Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet (qtd in Wollan). While Indigenous activists and artists were the ones who traced over the original letters, the fresh paint transformed the faded reddish terra-cotta that matched the nearby Golden Gate Bridge into a bolder and brighter red paint. It was reported that in the first month after the new tower was unveiled, "park service employees noticed a significant rise in the number of tourists who then asked questions" about the painted message and the history of the occupation during guided tours (Ibid).
The occupation of Alcatraz is seen through an inter/national perspective, both from a contemporary perspective and from the beginning.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The activists were American Indians<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> from many nations, coming from across the United States and Canada. Yet during the occupation they self-identified as "Indians of All Tribes." While activists occupying the island identified individually as Sioux, Santee-Dakota, Seneca, Mohawk, Shoshone, Hoocąągra, Cherokee, Inuit, and Blackfoot, as well as mixed heritage, on Alcatraz the activists came together under a supra-tribal organization, making for what this article calls transnational-indigeneity.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Their use of red paint while "holding the Rock" was evocative of the burgeoning "Red Power" movement, one of many protest movements throughout the globe during the 1960s. Red paint was also, as will be shown, a pragmatic choice of a decolonizing tool, creating echoes in subsequent defacements across the world.
The case studies in this article, spanning over a half century and existing in the United States, Namibia, and Australia, are explored as visual texts under critical theory and literary analysis.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> This paper explores the intertextuality of red paint thrown on colonial structures as a form of decolonization by challenging and subverting the narrative of the former installations. Painting these texts is part of a broader toolkit of actions taken by Indigenous authorial activists that can be read transnationally. Red paint has a specific symbolic nature when cast onto established colonial structures.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> With its ease of access and bright eye-catching hue, red paint as a form of protest writing is ubiquitous. Yet, when used by Indigenous people on structures installed by or deemed to represent colonial powers, it becomes a shared act of reclamation and connects to a deeper connected meaning, subverting both the structure and the narrative it produces in its defacement. Deconstructing these colonial "relics" with the use of red paint repurposes them as a decolonizing instrument and a source of Indigenous reclamation.
The occupation of Alcatraz, in this article, is the archetypal example of using red paint in such a fashion. Acts of "vandalism" of colonial structures predate the 1964-71 occupation, and indeed were by no means invented by or limited to North American Indigenous protests. At Alcatraz, however, and under the focus of national media attention and brightly painted onto federal structures, the defacement of the iconic prison structure helped solidify using red paint as a tactic to give voice to the burgeoning Red Power struggle. The occupation, lasting for many years, provided a testing ground which lead to a convergence of activism, branded in red. When red paint was subsequently deployed on colonial structures globally, it alluded, textually, to the occupation of Alcatraz and to the protest tactics used by North American Indigenous activists.
In this article, three case studies are employed to trace the evolving use of red inscription on colonial structures and how this can be seen as illustrating shades of transnational-indigenous decolonizing practices. I begin with an exploration of the occupation of Alcatraz. Much of the historiography on twentieth century American Indigenous activism focuses on the occupation as the watershed moment for the organization and protest by American Indians.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Overlooked in this scholarship is the specific use of red paint and its powerful use for rewriting, often literally, historical and hieratical texts to include an Indigenous presence.
This article is methodologically structured interdisciplinarily, in order to read the cultural and political significance behind the use of red paint on material objects in the public view as texts. Red paint is used to highlight injustices for a public gaze, and thus is often undertaken within the milieu of an international audience through media attention. Therefore, the targets of red paint augmentation are the overt ones—towering buildings, imposing monuments, and one-sided narrative plaques. In all the case studies examined herein, the painted structures are federally or municipally owned, which makes such inscriptions protests against colonial states and their inheritors. They are also all structures that are intended for tourists.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Therefore, I use a visual analysis of the painted material objects, contextualizing them historically and culturally, while also attempting to connect the movements behind the defacement into an entangled web of transnational Indigenous activism. The paint creates a new signifier, and this article puts the old structures in conversation with their "red de/faced" counterpart. Legal history, the culture of criminology, sociology, critical theory, and political science combine with subaltern and literary studies in order to produce a polyphonic and global narrative of Indigenous protest and reclamation through material culture.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I have grounded my argument in not only what the object becomes after it has been painted, but in the way it is to be viewed as decentering colonial master-narratives.
This article is organized chronologically, in order to showcase the connections between the use of red paint by Indigenous activists and viewing episodes of defacement as intertextual forms of reclamation. I move from the occupation of Alcatraz by "Indians of All Tribes" to the protest events by the American Indian Movement (AIM), specifically its 1970 Thanksgiving Day painting of Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, disrupting the 350th anniversary ceremony of the landing of the Pilgrims. Included in this Plymouth case study is also AIM activist Russell Means's pouring of red paint on the statue of Columbus in Denver, Colorado during the same year. Means was present at the Plymouth Rock protest and thus directly bridges these two examples into a linked protest movement. Thanksgiving Day ceremonies also connect back to Alcatraz, as the United States National Park Service now formally recognizes the occupation of Alcatraz every year with "The Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering." While the park facilities are closed for the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the National Park Service allows visitors on the island to observe "Unthanksgiving Day," a bonfire ceremony, with dances and speeches from members of the Indians of All Tribes. More than 5000 people attended the 2018 event.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
I then move to more contemporary moments that evoked the same methods of red paint on problematic colonial structures. The 2004 "vandalism" in Risdon Cove, Tasmania, connects to Plymouth Rock in the sense that it was the site of the first landing of English settlers on the Australian continent. It is also simultaneously the site of the first genocide against the Palawa people.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In this section I explore the use of red paint on the Bowen monument after the 1995 handover of Risdon Cove from the Australian government to Aboriginal authorities. This is an attempt to show how the Red Power movement created modern methodological tools of protest, of which red paint is one, as well as an example of reclamation through defacement that has influenced Indigenous activism across the globe. The third main case study ends with the 2016 vandalism of the Marinedenkmal in Swakopmund, Namibia. Once again, here Indigenous activists poured red paint over a Namibian inherited celebration of colonialism. By coloring the Marinedenkmal in a leitmotif evoking blood, the hegemonic statue is decentered to include an often-silenced Indigenous presence.
America, Australia, and Namibia are united in a history of colonial genocide. While the historical circumstances differed in each, all three countries have yet to fully come to terms with their settler complicity and oppression of native peoples. Red paint defacement stands as one of many practices aimed at decolonizing public spaces. The allusions to the Red Power movement of the 1960s are elucidated when Indigenous actors use red paint to interrupt the colonial enshrinement of these settler societies' national narratives.
"Vandalism" presents a problematic approach for academic analysis.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Due to its illegality and the monetary punishments and criminal adjudication attached to the action, vandalism often takes place under a clandestine cloak of anonymity. The actions are often left to speak for themselves (literally so in the case of graffiti messages). In my case studies the individuals responsible for the use of red paint are largely unknown, even in instances where an individual or group may have taken credit for the act of vandalism. I have thus chosen to use the term "defacement," as red paint is used to subvert the narrative and create an Indigenous memorial out of a former colonial monument. The illegality of pouring red paint on these structures is part of its non-violent civil disobedience underpinnings within a spatial practice. Moreover, vandalism and defacement are often marked, in the words of Nic Sammond and Anna Creadick, by ephemeral qualities of "extreme and explicit temporary-ness [...] in both its creation and its consumption" (139). The paint is quickly cleaned off and the artifact restored.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The capture of it by the media or in other forms of documentary evidence, or else active preservation of the defacement, creates permanence and a shareable presence.
In his landmark study on graffiti, criminologist Jeff Ferrell pointed out that "research into [...] forms of graffiti writing can expose not only the dynamics of crime and culture, but the lived inequities within which both evolve" (5). Examining the red paint and its message is thus interconnected with the material object on which it is cast. Ferrell also notes that graffiti writers are engaged in a "shared aesthetics of [...] subculture" both localized in its specificity of message and canvas, but also connected to "individual and collective innovations [...] which continue to expand, both historically and geographically beyond [...] into a larger world" (11). While Ferrell's study centers on American urban youth as "taggers," the position of this "interweaving of broader cultural processes" when taken as one of the instruments in the toolbox of the disposed,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> graffiti and painting colonial structures are used to highlight "injustice and inequality [...] the domination of social, [historical], and cultural life [and] the aggressive [and continuing] disenfranchisement" of minorities by the "institutionalized intolerance" of "political and economic authority" (11-16; Farrell: 1999, 414). Graffiti, which the use of red paint discussed in this article, in part, falls under, has a cultural export function when applied to resistance against colonialism more generally.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> As Ferrell and his sociologist coeditor Clinton Sanders showed in Cultural Criminology, the political use of painting on government owned structures has gained a sense of public acceptance, specifically when applied as a form of resistance to imperialism. While domestic in practice, with red paint defacement being hyper-localized to a particular site and unique historical narration, as a tool of decolonization, its exportation internationally highlights the transnational-Indigeneity of shared resistance and reclamation.
Red paint is used to ruin colonial ruins. It is a suggestive and symbolic act, and the splashing of red paint onto material structures uniquely leaves these colonial reminders physically intact, yet recolors the historical narratives these constructs attempt to celebrate. The act of graffiti and defacement is not unique to Indigenous causes. Nor, of course, is the color red. Yet, when employed by Indigenous activists, red takes on a layered meaning. Red can stand in for "redness," part of reclaiming of the derogatory terms "red man" and "redskins" that so colored American settler perspectives of Native peoples and continue to proliferate popular culture in a myriad of ways.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In her detailed study on "red" as signifier for American Indians, Nancy Shoemaker focused on the iconography of red and white colors in Southeastern Indian culture as well as Indigenous creation narratives and the ceremonial practice of red paint. The colors red and white "articulated a dualism between war and peace," wrote Shoemaker, where "the 'red' or 'bloody' path meant war" as war chiefs painted themselves red to show their political authority in leading at times of battle, compared to the white-dressed civil chiefs (632). Focusing on the Cherokee nation, Shoemaker explained that the use of red-brown face paint was a means of evoking the "blood-red natural powers of the body" (638). Raymond Fogelson gendered this reading when he argued that the connection between red and death in combat lined up with its red twin of menstrual blood and women's ability to create new life (173-75). Both interpretations hold true when Indigenous actors use red paint defacement. It stands in as a declaration of war against the colonial construct, a path toward bloodiness. Indeed, as we shall see, red paint is often splattered on these objects in order to resemble blood—invoking the bloodstained history that is often silenced by imperial celebrations. Yet this paint also bleeds new menstrual life into the object, creating a new structure from the old, and with it a more accurate narrative of the past.
Red also carries an Indigenous connotation when looked at internationally. In the Namibian and Australian contexts, the color red is directly linked to native people in the official national flags.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Namibian national flag features a band of red, which represents "the Namibian people, their heroism and their determination to build a future of equal opportunity for all ("National Symbols").<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Aboriginal Flag of Australia consists of black and red bars, with a yellow circle in the center. While the flag's creator, Aboriginal artist Harold Thomas, maintained that black represented the aboriginal people, the color red rooted the aboriginals as autochthonous, representing the red ochre painted on their bodies to spiritually connect with the land.
Coincidentally, the occupation of Alcatraz took place during the creation of each of those flags. The flag that would later become the national Namibian flag was created in 1966, two years after the first attempted occupation of Alcatraz. The Aboriginal flag of Australia debuted in 1971, the very same year the final Alcatraz occupiers were forcefully removed. When the Aboriginal flag was flown over the "Aboriginal Tent Embassy" in Canberra, it laid claim to an occupied point on the lawn facing the Old Parliament House, creating an inter/national nexus point for Indigenous occupation. Aboriginal Australians from across the nation had come together under a makeshift assembly of tents to advocate for land rights in the very same year the "Indians of All Tribes" occupiers were removed from Alcatraz. Both of these flags, with the prominent display of red, were created in fights over belonging, ownership, occupation, and how history would be displayed.
When the second wave of Alcatraz occupiers waded ashore on November 20, 1969, the color red was symbolically used in their request to buy back Alcatraz from the US government for the "fair and reasonable" terms in which they were originally paid: "twenty-four dollars in glass beads and red clothe" (qtd in Kelly, 2; emphasis mine). Further subverting the colonial constructs used to dispossess American Indians, this group of activists claimed the island "by right of discovery [...] in the name of all American Indians." From its inception, the occupation of Alcatraz was an inclusive site for all American Indians, rather than reclamation in the name of the Ohlone people, to which the area was traditional homeland. In his history of the occupation, Troy Johnson wrote "the movement was to promote no one individual or one tribe [...] but rather Native Americans from all tribes across the United States" (53). Thus the activists titled themselves "Indians of All Tribes" using inter/national connection. Occupier Richard Oakes recalled that the name was chosen because of the diverse network of activists at play:
we represented five different tribes, so we claimed [the island] in the name of the Indians of all tribes, not just one tribe. [November 9, 1969] was the first time we used the name which would become our name on the island. (qtd in Johnson, 58-59)
Occupier Peter Blue Cloud stressed the collapsing of rural and urban divides that had separated groups. He recalled that "never before had the dream of Indian unity been put into reality in such a sudden way as at Alcatraz," where people "from reservations and urban settlements, government boarding schools, street gangs or giant cities, plains, and desert, horse people, sheep herders, fisherman of the coastal rivers, hunters of the frozen north" had come together and found that "we had come home. Our mother earth wanted us here, for we are the land" (qtd in Johnson, 117).
The inter/national occupiers quickly transformed the face of the island, pragmatically repurposing stores of red paint housed in the former prison buildings and used to maintain the nearby Golden Gate Bridge. Using this paint, slogans were written as a way to "broadcast messages for those who would look upon the island during the occupation" (Johnson, 67). In a statement to the press, the Indians of All Tribes weaponized historical narration, stating: "we now have a more powerful weapon. The people of this country know a little of the real history and tragedy of the Indian people today. What they do not know is the tragic story of the Indian people today. We intend to tell them that story" (qtd in Burling, 55). The occupation of Alcatraz was itself an attempt to create a more accurate and more visible narrative of American Indian history. Red paint assisted in spreading the message of Red Power, with the slogan "Red Power" appearing as graffiti across former prison buildings, along with messages that confront historical narratives, such as "Custer had it coming." When Time Magazine reported on the Red Power movement in a 1970 cover story, the story acknowledged "Indians suffer as harshly [as blacks] from biased history books," noting that textbooks used in schools at the time wrote of the salvation the Pilgrims brought to the mentally "deadened" American Indians ("The Angry American Indian").
The Red Power movement shared similar tactics and terminology with the Civil Rights movement led by black activists. Just as African American protesters carried out sit-ins to bring attention to and fight against systems of segregation in the American south, American Indian activists waged "fish-ins" to protest against the stripping away of their water and wildlife rights in the Pacific Northwest (Fixico, 183). The Red Power movement, moreover, came into being in the early 1960s within a relationship to the other protest movements by minority groups: women, students, anti-Vietnam war protests, and a more overt connection to the rise of Black Power militant nationalism (Leahy and Wilson, 141; Red Power Media). The occupiers of Alcatraz used the tactics of non-Native activism in order to bring national and international focus to the special concerns of American Indians (Smith, 85).
Occupiers at Alcatraz painted, in red, a clenched fist on the former warden's quarters, aligning with the African-American symbol of solidarity and power, as well as the symbol of a raised fist made iconographic by South African activists in the African National Congress (ANC). The sign "Warning keep off. Federal Property" was crossed out to read simply "Indian Property," with the "keep off" prohibition conspicuously absent in a way that invited conversation, viewing, and peaceful visitation to the island. Other red slogans appeared on walls reading "You are on Indian Land" (underline in original), as a welcoming to other Indigenous North Americans, irrespective of tribal affiliation, to join the protesters on the island. Signs close to the shore originally installed by the federal government to keep visitors away from the closed penitentiary now signaled the takeover of land ownership, shifting "Warning Keep Off U.S. Property" into a red banner of "Warning Keep off Indian Property" (Fortunate Eagle, 114; emphasis mine).
Media coverage of Indian occupation spread a localized event into national news. In his analysis of press coverage at Alcatraz, David Milner showed the shifting tonal responses to the occupation, beginning with "uncharacteristically sympathetic and even-handed coverage" during the early occupation stage, before transitioning to "images of warlike, violent Indians reminiscent of earlier colonial reporting" as federal agents prepared to raid the island in 1971 (Milner, 74). While many news agencies followed the occupation, notably the New York Times and The Washington Post, it was the local San Francisco Chronicle that remained deeply embedded. In fact, as Milner underscored, Chronicle reporters collaborated with the occupiers; having received advance notice of planned protests by the occupiers, and having been asked "not to break the story prematurely" (qtd in Milner, 76).
The images of graffiti and painted slogans, easily if not intentionally visible to press photographers using boats and onshore visitations to report on the occupation, provided visual texts to capture what occupier Adam Fortunate Eagle called the "international importance [of] a defiant act of Indigenous people" (120).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> It is important to note that both newspaper and television reporting were done in black and white during this period. Therefore, the color of the painted messages was absent to national and international readers not present at Alcatraz. At this stage in the protest, the color red, while used, was chosen more due to its availability, as barrels were found already on the island. In this way, the defacement of the structures was done using written words, rather than evoking the spilling of blood. As a text, Alcatraz's recoloring was done through graffiti, palimpsest, and the raising of flags and banners. It was the messages themselves, rather than the color of the paint that rewrote Alcatraz during the nascent period of the Red Power movement. That red paint was still the medium used, allows the occupation of Alcatraz to simultaneously launch other reddened texts, and, many years after the occupation, become a self-referential text, as it is the red-painted messages, now preserved by the National Parks Service, that captivate visitors into becoming readers of these narratives.
The occupation was originally, as one activist noted, "a stunt [...] to publicize a cause [...] which was intended to put its message on a bigger stage via the media" (qtd in Smith, 85-86). Memoirs from the occupiers show that much of the graffiti was done in the early days of the occupation. Efforts were made to create "a more serious sign [...] something that suggested more than mere vandals were" present on Alcatraz (Fortunate Eagle, 152). Beyond the large banner on the water tower depicted at the opening of this article, as well as handmade flags flown from guard towers, coordinated efforts at creating a larger visual image, such as a list of demands that could be read from afar, never materialized. Media attention, too, waned, as the occupation stretched to nineteen months and nine days. When armed federal marshals raided the island on June 11, 1971, they did so tellingly outside of the media gaze, where the lingering cameras covering the occupation were blocked by a Coast Guard perimeter. With the occupiers arrested and the island back in federal control, authorities allowed a press tour of the formally occupied zones days later. A Chronicle reporter captured the final image of red graffiti painted on a wall amongst the rubble. The article the following day concluded with: "Another sign, sad and pathetic [...] looks yearningly out to the Bay Bridge: 'Where's our Chief?,' it asks" (qtd in Fortunate Eagle, 201).
Veterans of the occupation, joined by new protesters, continued waves of decolonizing protests on deemed colonial sites both during and after the events at Alcatraz. On Thanksgiving Day, 1970, occupier John Trudell, along with Russell Means and Dennis Banks, joined with the newly created American Indian Movement to stage a more visceral provocation. AIM was a more radical political organization than the Indians of All Tribes movement, gaining support of "America's New Left and politically oriented counterculture," as well as mainstream attention (Smith, 144). While the Indians of All Tribes movement stayed fixed on the Alcatraz occupation, AIM used the public attention to push for a series of national protest movements across the US (Johnson: 2008, 220). Alcatraz's antecedal roots both inspired and legitimized its protest channels. When Trudell, Means, and Banks, along with members of twenty-five Indian tribes, arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they cited the Alcatraz occupation as "a symbol of a newly awakened desire of the Indians for unity and authority in a white world" (Johnson: 2008, 240). Adopting a more confrontational approach, AIM activists then disrupted the town's Thanksgiving Day commemoration. 1970 marked the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. As a tourist event, the town had commissioned the reconstruction of a ship, named Mayflower II, tethering it to Plymouth Rock.
The ship facsimile and its direct connection to the stone created the stage for a national protest. AIM activists led the Thanksgiving Day protest by congregating around Plymouth Rock, spitting and dumping waste on the rock ("Taking Back Plymouth Rock"). Led by Russell Means, AIM members also boarded and occupied the Mayflower II, allegedly draping themselves in torn down flags. The original plan had been to burn the ship; however, Means instead chose to bury Plymouth Rock under layers of sand (Smith, 151), in a more symbolic, less destructive, and temporally impermanent form of protest. The Mayflower II was a newly created item specifically for this ceremony, whereas Plymouth Rock was deemed as a more authentic and therefore more appropriate target. The protest and occupation of the Mayflower II did not lead to any arrests and surprisingly little media attention.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> That evening, however, AIM leader John Trudell, himself a veteran of the Alcatraz occupation, returned to Plymouth Rock and painted it in red, a replication of the tactics used on Alcatraz. The red paint on Plymouth Rock made national news and the media coverage has been credited as "catapulting AIM into the national consciousness" ("Taking Back Plymouth Rock").
While the red messages at Alcatraz could be reported in black and white, at Plymouth it was the color choice by Trudell that made for such a visceral rewriting on the rock. Much like the occupation of Alcatraz, the settler significance of the Rock(s)<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>, and their stand-in for the brutal treatment of American Indians provide daises for protest, both of which were painted red. The timing of both events, lining up with the more radical protest era of the 1970s as well as specifically occurring around the Thanksgiving national holiday, are notable features in a mosaic of protest. The US government's attack on AIM activists at Wounded Knee in 1973 historically and publically buries the smaller protest movements such as the painting of Plymouth Rock, replacing the images of red with the more militarized photos of American Indians holding firearms.
It is striking that none of the AIM activists were arrested at the 1970 Plymouth protest. The effect was a sense of legitimacy in using symbolic forms of protest to draw attention to Indigenous grievances and historic injustices, showcasing inklings of broader public support. Russell Means's activism continued under banners of red paint, as in 1989 when he was arrested for pouring buckets of red liquid on a statue of Christopher Columbus. The charges were dropped, however, when the Denver court concluded that his defacement of the statue was protected under the first amendment.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In 1992, the Denver Columbus day parade was canceled until 2000, due to concerns regarding clashes between protesters and marchers (Banda). When the annual Columbus Day parade returned, AIM activists, including Means, also returned to the streets to perform civil disobedience, fulfilling their earlier vow to enact "an active militant campaign" in their demands that federal and local government "remove anti-Indian icons."<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> While centered in the American context, AIM's anti-Columbus movement featured an international call to decolonize national narratives, through education of accurate history and its public display:
We encourage others [...] in every community in the land, to educate themselves and to take responsibility for the removal of anti-Indian vestiges [...] there is no better time for the re-examination of the past, and a rectification of the historical record for future generations, than the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival. There is no better place for this re-examination to begin than in Colorado, the birthplace of the Columbus Day holiday. (Morris and Means)
Inspired by Means, during the 1992 traveling exhibition to mark the quincentenary of Columbus' voyage, AIM activist Vernon Bellecourt threw a pint of his own blood onto the sails of a replicated version of one of Columbus' ships.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Science Museum of Minnesota, hosting the exhibition, chose to "leave the sail blood-stained throughout the remainder of the show" (Cooper, 330). Pouring red paint fundamentally links to the connection of blood and the experience of bleeding. The colonial experience is one of bleeding, and red liquid, either as a stand-in for blood or as blood itself, is a leitmotif of a blood stained past. American Indian activists, in following from the occupation of Alcatraz and the makeshift use of stored red paint, had created an accessible but meaningful tool of protest which could recolor historical narratives and highlight the violence and continued aggression against Indigenous peoples beyond American borders.
Alcatraz is a site of stagnation and a symbol of state controlled violence. It has a history of interning American Indians in the nineteenth century prior to the construction of formal prison buildings as it became a federal penitentiary. It can therefore be read as an imperial monument. The occupiers' use of red paint to create graffiti messages, images, and re-appropriated signs of ownership was pragmatically driven, due to the limited supplies occupiers could bring and the storehouse of red paint already on site. Yet it was an appropriate tool to employ against the material object itself, using the tools of the state against itself. With Alcatraz creating an anchor point, AIM's use of red paint as an expression of spilled blood, painted a resistance to settler-based national history. Painting Plymouth Rock in blood red struck at the origins of the American foundation mythos, targeting the very site of the landing of the Pilgrims, and targeting celebrations of Columbus. Here, the monument of Plymouth Rock and statues of Columbus are objects to be shown as "bloodied," signaling the genocide of American Indians under colonialism, further triggered by the 1973 murder of Indigenous activists at the same site as the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. Red paint as blood became an effective shorthand to reference historical and ongoing violence against Indigenous people.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Grounded in the protest movements of American Indians, it is this use of red paint that has been picked up by Indigenous activists internationally.
The monument stone at Risdon Cove, Tasmania marks the site of the first landing of colonists on the island. It too has become locative marker for protest to more fully incorporate Indigenous history into Tasmanian historical narratives. Located just outside the capital city Hobart, Risdon Cove was the 1803 landing site where Lieutenant John Bowen established the formal colonial center of Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania). Intended to be the first settlement by British agents, on May 3, 1804, the soldiers encountered a group of around 300 Palawa hunting kangaroo. The British soldiers opened fire using heavy cannon, "killing a great many of them" according to the convict Edward White, who gave testimony in 1830. The massacre at the very landing site of the colonists links the first episode of genocide against the Palawa with the settlement of the island.
Marking both the site of white settlement and the ultra violence that accompanied it, a monument to Bowen was erected during the 1904 centenary. Using locally sourced stone, an obelisk was created with the brief inscription "This Memorial erected to commemorate the Centenary of the landing at this spot of Lieut. Bowen. R.N., on September 1803, was unveiled by His Excellency, the Governor, Sir A.E. Havelock [...] 22nd February 1904." The narrative of historical violence is notably absent from the obelisk itself, in much the same way that Plymouth Rock merely displays the etched on date "1620". The colonial master narrative is the only one on display. Yet just as when AIM painted the rock red, so too can the Bowen monument represent simultaneously the twins of settlement and violence. In 1995, Risdon Cove was returned to the Palawa community as part of a countrywide land reform act. Managed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (TAC), shortly after the handover, a poll was conducted amongst the Palawa to determine the fate of the Bowen Monument. Responses ranged from removing the obelisk entirely, to recentering its narrative with the creation of new plaques, which told a more accurate account of the site and island's history, inclusive of Palawa experiences.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> While the land itself is managed by TAC, the monument sits on a site of shared access, where it is open to the public during daylight hours. While the poll was open, activists defaced the obelisk, covering it in red paint to signify the blood spilled by the massacred Palawa on this site. According to Reg Watson, a revisionist settler descendant and self-appointed caretaker of the monument, red paint was also splashed onto the monument on December 11, 1995, the same day as the official return of the land to the aboriginal community (Watson).
As a decolonizing tactic, using red paint to deface the Bowen obelisk links to a global network of protest against one-sided historical narratives under transnational-indigeneity. Poll respondents did not mention the defacement of either the obelisk or American Indian traditions of using red paint to alter the narratives. Yet, as settler societies working through decolonization movements, both Tasmania and America are rooted in a colonial past littered with imperial celebrations. Red paint defacement as a protest against the physical narrative structures subverts statues and deconstructs them to instead stand in as markers of violence. As argued above, red paint in this context, poured and splattered on these objects, creates a visceral image of blood. Indeed, bleeding and forced blood loss through violent acts embodies much of the physical colonial experience worldwide. Red paint, with is malleability and plasticity can therefore be used to give new and potent meaning to these objects and thus deconstruct the colonial narratives with decolonizing historical accuracy. It is this reminder and memorialization of blood and violent experiences, used for Indigenous causes, that links red paint defacements as a pattern within shared transnational decolonization movements under projects of reclamation.
While the Palawa poll respondents did not address the defacement of the Bowen monument, they did show awareness of the problematic one-sidedness of the historical narrative that is put forth to tourists. One informative response looked toward the international community, stating that:
[F]or the last 193 years, white Tasmanians have lied not only to their children, but to the rest of the world about their arrival, and the invasion of Tasmania. To remove the monument may satisfy our immediate desire to emphasise our control over our own land, but it is not enough compensation for the years of denial that our ancestors have had to contend with. (Interim Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania Branch Meeting, February 20, 1996)
This respondent wanted both the old monument to exist, while creating a new structure that subverts the former and:
Tells the truth about the murder of our people Present day white Tasmanians, overseas and mainland visitors to Risdon Cove should be able to compare the lies of the present monument to the truth about the massacre of innocent men, women and children [...we cannot] deny these visitors the right to compare the truth with the lies [...] we must enable people to compare and decide for themselves, not control what they should view and read. This has been the way of White Tasmanians not the way of our old ones. (Ibid)
In this article, I have argued that painting monuments in red blood accomplishes this desire. It leaves the old structure but repurposes it, visually subverting the hierarchy of the settler narrative in order to bring forward the narrative that settled land is itself a monument that, unchallenged, continues colonialism. By making these sites bleed again, through red paint, the narration shifts from imperial celebration to a display of memorialization for the murdered Indigenous groups.
Indeed, the Bowen monument has been painted red, and in this way it has been reclaimed. Watson stated the monument had been "vandalized" on at least four occasions. While American Indian activists like Means and other AIM members called for a national and global removal of all anti-Indigenous celebrations of conquest, some white Tasmanians, personified here by Reg Watson, call for the "repair, protection, and promotion of monument[s]" (Watson).
In 2004, as a lead up to the bicentenary, the Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury recounted the history of Risdon Cove in weekly featurettes. Owing, in part, to the recent defacement of the monument, attention to the monument itself and the past history of genocide took center stage. Just one day prior to the bicentennial, actor Richard Davey presented a 90 minute free public reading of Edward White's testimony, taking the form of a staged play of reenacting "The Report of the 1830 Committee of Inquiry into the Causes of the Conflict between Settlers and Aborigines." During the May 4, 2004 ceremony, hundreds of Palawa converged at Risdon Cove. A traditional dance was performed and a message was read in Palawa kani to the ancestors, showing, as TAC secretary Trudy Maluga pointed out, that European colonizers "killed us off in this place [...] stole our land, took away our people and imposed their religions on us [...] But our presence here today shows they have not destroyed us" (Briggs, 3).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> For the bicentenary, the Palawa covered the Bowen monument in a white sheet splattered with red paint, showing, in the words of attending Senator Bob Brown, that "We need to face the awful truth: our history is written in blood" (Briggs, 3).
In a connection to transnational-indigeneity, the covering of the Bowen monument in red paint challenges the still standing colonial monuments and the power structures they exert. Palawa grievances of unrecognized violence, land theft, loss of language, religion, and culture, align with those of North American Indians and First Nation people, and it is fitting that all of these communities have used red paint to bring attention to these issues and recreate the old monuments as inclusive versions of this history. This now globalized approach unites these groups in bringing attention to a history of settler inflected violence as well as decentering these narratives in order to create a visually prominent protest movement.
The use of a white sheet over the Bowen monument presents an interesting example of protest aimed at inclusion. Just as some respondents of the 1996 poll regarding the future of the monument suggest that it should be left intact, but repurposed, so too can the sheet be viewed as a form of inclusion. The sheet covered the offensive obelisk, silencing its inaccurate transcription of historical events. Yet the sheet also protected the monument. It protected the monument from the symbolic painting of blood as well as protecting it during the ceremony, should mob mentality have caused a further desire to destroy the monument in that moment, like the AIM activists' calls to burn the Mayflower II. The sheet acted as a dual defense, protecting activists from the monument and protecting the monument from the activists. The sheet was removed after the bicentennial and the monument returned to its position of being hidden in plain sight. In 2011 TAC created three plaques, facing and surrounding the monument. Each in one color of the aboriginal flag, the plaques are wordless, using photos and images to add in a permanent presence of Indigenous surveillance to a site that sits empty most days. In this way the red paint has been transformed into red, black, and yellow painted signs that subvert the message of the monument to include the experiences of Indigenous people.
While Alcatraz's layered history displayed for millions of tourists each year, and the transformed Risdon Cove have undergone public consultations, the Namibian coastal town Swakopmund remains steeped in colonial nostalgia. Buildings have angled Bavarian-style roofs to repel the snow that will never fall in this beachside resort town. German is the most widely spoken language, and the sandy beaches and beer gardens are the main tourist pull. With a large German-Namibian community and unmarked concentration camps, the historical past of the 1904-1908 genocide is largely absent, save for Memorial Park cemetery, an enduring symbol of reconciliation and a laudable example of inclusion where the bodies of genocide perpetrators are interned in the same walled-in cemetery as their victims (Barnard). The town's prominent monument is the Marinedenkmal, a statue of two German marines on a large rock near the town's municipal center. Erected in 1908 to celebrate the suppression of Ovaherero and Nama colonial resistance, the statue has sat untouched for nearly 120 years.
On April 2, 2016, during the annual Reparation Walk through the town, where Indigenous Ovaherero and Ovambanderu march to bring attention to the unacknowledged German-inflected genocide and its refusal to pay restitution, participants covered the statue in red paint. In many ways it is surprising this had not occurred earlier, and that it was the Swakopmund statue and not the much more visual Reiterdenkmal, unveiled in 1912 in the colonial capital of Windhoek, to become Namibia's first defaced monument. The activists who "vandalized" the Marinedenkmal did so, in the words of political scientist Elke Zuern, in order to "tie the presence of the [statue] to unaddressed colonial crimes." While the defacement was over a century in the making, it occurred in 2016 during the protracted but publically expected official recognition of genocide by the German government.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The prolonged legal and political deliberation between the German and Namibian governments provided the context for the act of red paint on the Marinedenkmal as an attempt to remind the international community, as well as Swakopmund's German-speaking settler inheritors, of the unhealed colonial wounds, still bleeding.
Interestingly, some prominent Namibian activists have condemned the act of red paint defacement. Ovaherero chief Vekuii Rukoro stated that "as a chief I do not support vandalism in any shape or form" (qtd in Shiku). While the Chief felt that after 26 years of independence, the time had come for the statue to be removed, echoing the 2009 words of Namibian President Pohamba regarding the removal of the Reiterdenkmal, where both men have stated that Namibians "need our own monuments," the Ovaherero chief wanted to see the statue removed in "orderly fashion [...] and it does not mean it must be vandalized."
The red paint on the Marinedenkmal created two important ramifications. The first is that it reopened attention on colonial wounds within an international context, as media outlets as large as the New York Times picked up and ran features on the defacement of the statue in a town of under 50,000 inhabitants and located deep in southwestern Africa. The second is that it has disrupted the community-based celebrations of colonialism. The red paint highlights and renews calls for the removal of the statue. As Zuern postulated, the threat to remove the monument showcases the German-speaking community's fear of their own impermanence in the relatively recent independent nation. "The thing that worries the German speakers in Swakopmund" Zuern surmised, "is that this is a site where they have annual commemorations [...] It's not just this monument with all the symbolism that entails, but actually a site they use to commemorate the deaths of the marine troops and to rally the community" (qtd in Onishi). Like Reg Watson in Tasmania, the red paint is aimed at the small but vocal white minority and the revisionist narration they wish to defend. In clinging to this false version of history, settler-descended communities engage in genocide denial. Red paint overtly challenges these narratives, forcing, at the very least, dialogue and discussion toward a more inclusive and more accurate construction of events.
Red paint on monuments, in its loaded meaning and with its ease of deployment, is a powerful and effective form of protest. In analyzing the ways settler societies like America, Australia, and Namibia have enshrined and glorified their colonial past in monuments, and the ways these have been challenged by transnational-indigeneity, it becomes clear that the structure to which the paint is applied is just as telling, if ephemeral, as the paint itself. The narration of these stone structures is not only subverted, but is in fact reappropriated with splashes of red paint. As this article has shown, the strength of red paint defacement comes from the global spread of its use against colonial history and by bringing attention to continuing colonial policies. Red is a highlighter, capturing media publicity, albeit temporarily, in order to decolonize the hegemony of colonially imposed history. Red paint highlights disenfranchisement, and as a non-violent protest tool, it can create alliances between international Indigenous groups as well as, importantly, recruit non-native people to these causes. In his book Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition, Glen Coulthard, drawing on Frantz Fanon, argues that Indigenous recognition projects often take the form of litigation and "delegation of land, capital, and political power," and as such are in danger of reproducing the very form of colonialism "demands for recognition historically sought to transcend" (3). Red paint, therefore, is a bottom-up approach to decolonizing without becoming entangled in colonial systems, aligning itself with what Coulthard sees as a resurgence of Indigenous cultural practices outside of state controlled discourses. The Tasmanian case study above showcased that beyond the red paint, traditional dances and the reading of praise to Palawa ancestors in a critically endangered language reinforces a localized recognition movement.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
Red paint also creates transnational connections of solidarity. As an artistic medium of blood, it punctuates a shared colonial history. It challenges one-sided settler narratives not by the removal of former physical structures, but by leaving these relics intact yet powerless and silent. The celebration of imperial legacies instead becomes a memorial to violence, and the imposing statue now speaks to Indigenous causes. It transforms these structures into a new version that brings public attention to often-unacknowledged events and existing power dynamics that still need to be altered. Red paint is a testament to the spirit of the transnational Red Power decolonizing movements, serving as link to globally entangled defacements of colonialism, now colored red.
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<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The occupation dates are interrupted and not fixed. The occupation began with a one day "sit-in" in 1964, then returned in force on November 20, 1969, and lasted until June 11, 1971, when the final 11 protesters were forcefully removed by federal marshals. See, "Alcatraz, Occupation of", in Todd Leahy and Raymond Wilson's Historical Dictionary of Native American Movements (Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press, 2008), 4.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> With the exception of the lighthouse, built higher up on the island's topography, the water tower is the tallest freestanding structure on Alcatraz.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I have borrowed this term from Steven Salaita's book Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Salaita uses "inter/nationalism" as an umbrella term of amalgamation, standing in for "solidarity, transnationalism, inter-sectionality, kinship, [and/or] intercommunalism" [ix]. The case studies presented in this article span over 60 years and reach outside of North America to encompass Namibia and Australia. In order to fully showcase the more recent globalized context of Indigenous actors linked above geographic barriers, I have used my own term "transnational-indigeneity," which exists pluralistically with other forms of self-identification. This is not to say that all activists identify with these terms, nor is it to suggest a truncation of identity under a lens of pan-indigeneity.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In reflecting on the longue durée history of Indigenous groups in the American West, with specific focus on its disruption by colonial settlement and waves of violence, Benjamin Madley points out that "dislocation and tribal fluidly characterized [...] Indian life. Forced removal to small, distant reservations shared by multiple tribes" was common, and as "[r]efugees [...] fled into the new areas" they intermarried and often "permanently relocated." As such, Madley concludes that it is "not always possible to precisely identify California Indians by tribe." When the sources do not precisely identify the nations of Indigenous individuals or groups in question, Madley follows "the twenty-first century California Indian practice of using the term Indian or California Indian" (15). This chapter follows the practice employed by Madley by referring to regroupings of Native Peoples with the terms "Native," "Indian," and "Indigenous" interchangeably. Where individuals and groups have chosen to identify with a tribal or national affiliation, I indicate this. However, as this article is focused on the plasticity of the term "Indigenous" in a globally connected expanse using blanketed terminology is often the very point. This is done in order to showcase the global links of Native Peoples. See Benjamin Madley's An American Genocide: the United States and the California Indian Catastrophe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), 15.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I have employed this term to show instances where Indigenous cultures and practices have linked together to form a transnational movement and constructed identity. Individual tribal affiliation exists heterogeneously within transnational-indigeneity. I deploy the term in order to stretch these connections across continents, reading transnational-indigeneity as the joining of distinct groups while still providing a space for complex and pluralistic identities, rooted in "inter/nationalism." I use this term in order to focus on the shared anti-colonial resistance tactic of writing in red paint on colonial structures, a practice through which indigenous groups across the world create commonalities and thus engage in a form of dialogue with one another.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> There are many ways this article could have been written. I have eschewed writing this as a historical paper, and rather read the structures painted red as visual texts under literary analysis. They are narratives and counter narratives as much as sites of protest under affect theory. This is not to lessen the risks indigenous actors have taken to reconstruct their history in a public form but rather to read the narratives they have created under post-structural critical theory, where the historical and cultural contexts situate the visual texts, but where the narratives these texts create can be analyzed as artwork and connected globally under intertextuality. Thomas R. Lindlof and Bryan C. Taylor, Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 4th ed. (London: Sage, 2018), 75-76.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I am guided by Eric Cheyfitz's chapter 'The (Post)Colonial construction of Indian Country: U.S American Indian Literatures and Federal Indian Law', in The Columbia Guide to American Indian Literatures of the United States Since 1945, ed. Eric Cheyfitz, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 1-124. Cheyfitz argues that decolonization processes have yet to reach the postcolonial stage in the United States, because American Indians are still colonized citizens under federal laws. I extend this notion to the settler states of Namibia and Australia.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Examples range from inclusion in Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present (Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2003), pp. 524-529 to the accounts of activists such as Adam Fortunate Eagle and Tim Findley's Heart of the Rock: The Indian Invasion of Alcatraz (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002), to full monographs such as Troy R. Johnson's The Occupation of Alcatraz Island: Indian Self-Determination and the Rise of Indian Activism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996) and Sherry L. Smith's Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The exception being the messages originally painted on Alcatraz, as the island had yet to become a tourist mecca. Yet these messages are now firmly part of the island's narrative and are even part of a National Park Service guided walking tour.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> As the acts of "vandalism" studied in this article all came into being long after the formal end of colonialism and episodes of genocide, I am guided by Marianne Hirsch's work on postmemory, the inherited "personal, collective, and cultural trauma" in subsequent generations of survivors and the cultural and political interventions, visually inspired, that become a "form of repair" (5; 22). See Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In keeping with a theme of protest inclusion, the 2017 ceremony featured Colin Kaepernick, the famed NFL player and former San Francisco 49er who first took a knee during the singing of the national anthem to protest the treatment of minorities in America. This past year the history of Alcatraz occupation was celebrated with more globalized issues such as calls to fight climate change and migration issues. See Jose Fermoso "A Thanksgiving bonfire at dawn: celebrating Native American resistance on Alcatraz", The Guardian. 22 Nov 2018. Accessed 28 Nov 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/22/thanksgiving-native-american-sunrise-ceremony-alcatraz-occupation-protest
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Palawa is the term many Tasmanian Aboriginal people identify as, linking to the name of the first man created from the kangaroo by the Creator. As such, I use this term to refer to Tasmanian Aboriginal people throughout this article.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The term "vandalism" is used in quotation marks to distinguish it as being more than the destruction of property. The examples in this article are ones of political protest, resistance, and narrative reclamation. Furthermore, as shown below, the use of red paint on these structures does not destroy the physical object but rather re-centers it as a challenged and altered site.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Unless the protest movement itself is deemed worthy of preservation, in which case the challenged, painted objects becomes the dominant narrative in the hierarchy of remembering. The painted messages and images at Alcatraz has remained, the painted Mayflower II and colonial statues in Tasmania and Namibia have returned to their "status quo."
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> These tools include the "day to day" and often less visual means of protests against establishments as most prominently highlighted in James Scott's Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The use of red paint is simultaneously graffiti, a mural, and a new physical structure.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See, for example, the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan and its now controversial song "What Made the Red Man Red?" which was only a decade old when the Alcatraz occupation officially began. In her article "How Indians Got to be Red", Nancy Shoemaker argues that American Indians of the Southeast self-identified as "red" when encountering the othering effects of occupied categories like "white" and "black", with "red", in its opposition to "white" being a metaphoric category of position, which Shoemaker likens to school colors, rather than "racial categories rooted in biological difference" (637). Indians became red, Shoemaker concludes, "as a consequence of trying to define "whiteness" (641).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Lulie Nall, of the Penobscot nation, created what she hoped would become the national American Indian flag in 1968, which flew from one of the guard towers during the Alcatraz occupation. She wrote that the color red "represents the American Indian who shares his tepee with fifty state governments. Yellow, Black and Brown people are represented in the fields they help toil and join" while "the gap in the tepee represents the last gap of discrimination", in Delfin Vigil, "Disputed Alcatraz invasion flag on block", SF Gate, 24 January 2008. Accessed 2 January 2019. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Disputed-Alcatraz-invasion-flag-on-block-3231419.php#photo-2374087
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> While the flag was officially adopted as the national flag for Namibia in 1990 after the nation gained independence from South Africa, the flag's colors are adopted from the party flag of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO), the militarized liberation organization that fought a 24 year long war with South Africa. As such, while the red today is hauled as representing all Namibians, at the time of SWAPO's founding, the red stood in for the indigenous groups fighting against white rule under apartheid. In an odd aside, the creation of the flag has been claimed by Plymouth, England born Roy Allen, who claims the red was "the blood that was shed in the war" for independence. In both cases, red connects to the similar Native American trope of blood and battle. See "Allen From Plymouth... The man who designed the Namibian flag" The Namibian, 23 Oct 2015. Accessed 22 Nov 2018. (https://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?page=archive-read&id=143453).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Fortunate Eagle also recounted the hyperlocalized social transformations taking place on the island itself during the occupation, with a group of children subverting the game of "Cowboys and Indians" to be "Federal Agents and Indians" played amongst the occupied cell block lawns (120).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Of the media coverage that emerged, György Tóth has argued that it was sympathetic toward AIM, in that Means cast as descendant of Massasoit in photographic compositions, and through headlines such as "Russell Means Raises a Fist for Indian Power at Plymouth" and "While the Nation Feasted [...] Indians Bury 'That Rock' at Plymouth" appearing in the New York Times. See György Tóth "Performing 'the Spirit of '76': U.S. Historical Memory and Counter-Commemorations for American Indian Sovereignty," in Amanda Gilroy and Marietta Messmer, (eds.) America: Justice, Conflict, War. (Heidelberg, Germany: Winter University Press, 2016), 138-140.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The nickname of Alcatraz Island is "The Rock."
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> This was a fake blood substance, rather than the more destructive use of paint. It is possible that had Means used paint, he would have been charged with vandalism, whereas the fake blood was more temporary and therefore a protected form of free speech.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The long-standing opposition to Columbus Day in the United States remains a focal point of protest. For an analysis on the microhistorical conflict between memory and counter-memory within patriotic and nationalist narratives surrounding Denver's Columbus Day events, see Sam Hitchmough's "'It's Not Your Country Any More': Contested National Narratives and the Columbus Day Parade Protests in Denver." European Journal of American Culture, Volume 32 Issue 3. (September 2013), 263-283.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Means had also used bodily fluids as a from of protest, such as in 1970 when he stood atop Mount Rushmore and urinated on the carving of George Washington's head. See Russell Means and Marvin J. Wolf, Where White Men Fear to Tread (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995), 170.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I have previously researched the preserved desecration of massacre site plaques in California. See Jeremiah Garsha, "'Reclamation Road': A Microhistory of Massacre Memory in Clear Lake, California," in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. Volume 9: Issue 2, 69.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Hobart office of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre holds a file on Risdon Cove. Within are newspaper clippings relating to the protests at the Bowen monument as well as surveys and collected letters from the Palawa community. During my fieldwork in August 2013, I was given special permission by TAC to consult these records. I am grateful to the TAC and the Palawa community in Hobart for allowing me access to these responses and for their permission to quote from these files for my research.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Indeed, when I personally met with TAC officials in Hobart on August 11-12, 2013, they repeatedly stressed that one of the main reclamation projects at Risdon Cove would center on creating an education center for the teaching of Palawa kani.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> As of the time of this publication, recognition and an official apology from the German government have yet to materialize.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Tasmanian example created a space for this, as the red paint was applied to a cloth wrapping the monument, and thus had not criminally "vandalized" the monument. Similar to this is the "UnThanksgiving Day" ceremonies at Alcatraz, now organized in cooperation with National Parks agents.