Clyde Warrior, 1939–1968

  • Tiffany Hale


To identify Clyde Warrior as an intellectual subverts prevailing notions of intellectualism. We often think of intellectuals as older men and women whose major contributions are revealed late in life, once the passions of youth have been tempered by experience. Warrior was not this. People frequently imagine intellectuals as existing in isolation, insulated from the demands of regular folk. Warrior was not this either. He was a Ponca, born on the reservation and raised with the influence of his grandparents and community. He was also a renowned singer and powwow fancy dancer, as well as a college student, an organizational leader, a husband, and father of two daughters. Warrior’s political consciousness grew out of the deep connections he maintained to his rural Ponca roots, but he took care to educate himself about the problems affecting Native Americans across the United States as well as colonized peoples globally. As an Oklahoman, he was attuned to race relations in the South and empathized with the struggles of Africans and African Americans. His approach to indigenous political struggles was shaped and informed, for example, by his early and active participation with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.