|The Life and Times of Adam Fortunate Eagle|
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|Adam Fortunate Eagle Nordwall was born on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, his mother was Chippewa and his father a Swede. At the age of five, his father dead and his mother unable to provide for eight children, Adam and his siblings are sent to an Indian boarding school where he spends his childhood. His story is different from most who have spent time in Indian boarding schools. He considers those ten years a positive experience and a way, during the depression, of avoiding the overwhelming poverty, hunger and disease of living on a reservation. There he also learns many skills and disciplines that serve him well later in life.|
|Photograph: Steve Ransom|
|At Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas he meets his future wife, Bobbie, and both move to Oklahoma City where he and Bobbie get married. They work at several odd jobs and eventually move to San Francisco where he becomes a successful businessman and the “perfect” urban Indian - a poster child for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Prejudices toward Indians in the Bay area motivates him to become an advocate for the rights of urban Indians. And thus begins his activism, which eventually leads to the Indian takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969. Adam is one of the principal organizers and one of the main figures in negotiating with federal officials who are sent almost daily by President Nixon. After nineteen months Nixon signs papers repudiating the Indian Termination Act declaring it no longer valid. A series of reforms are implemented in urban areas and on reservations with improved health and welfare programs for American Indians.
But because of his activism, the government considers him an “enemy of the State,” and he loses his business and virtually everything he owns. Forced to move to the Paiute-Shoshone Reservation where his wife was born, he turns this negative experience into a positive one by honing his skills as a ceremonial pipe maker, sculptor, and author and continues his calling as a ceremonial leader and statesman for his people.
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|Bottom photograph: Steve Ransom|