History

Source: US History. Authored by: P. Scott Corbett, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Paul Vickery, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/us-history. License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11740/latest/

Unit 4: The Rise of Conservatism

 

HIPPIES AND THE COUNTERCULTURE In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many young people came to embrace a new wave of

cultural dissent. The counterculture offered an alternative to the bland homogeneity of

American middle-class life, patriarchal family structures, self-discipline, unquestioning

patriotism, and the acquisition of property. In fact, there were many alternative cultures.

 

“Hippies” rejected the conventions of traditional society. Men sported beards and grew

their hair long; both men and women wore clothing from non-Western cultures, defied

their parents, rejected social etiquettes and manners, and turned to music as an expression

of their sense of self. Casual sex between unmarried men and women was acceptable.

Drug use, especially of marijuana and psychedelic drugs like LSD and peyote, was

common. Most hippies were also deeply attracted to the ideas of peace and freedom.

They protested the war in Vietnam and preached a doctrine of personal freedom to be and

act as one wished.

 

Some hippies dropped out of mainstream society altogether and expressed their

disillusionment with the cultural and spiritual limitations of American freedom. They

joined communes, usually in rural areas, to share a desire to live closer to nature, respect

for the earth, a dislike of modern life, and a disdain for wealth and material goods. Many

communes grew their own organic food. Others abolished the concept of private

property, and all members shared willingly with one another. Some sought to abolish

traditional ideas regarding love and marriage, and free love was practiced openly. One of

the most famous communes was The Farm, established in Tennessee in 1971. Residents

 

 

Source: US History. Authored by: P. Scott Corbett, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Paul Vickery, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/us-history. License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11740/latest/

adopted a blend of Christian and Asian beliefs. They shared housing, owned no private

property except tools and clothing, advocated nonviolence, and tried to live as one with

nature, becoming vegetarians and avoiding the use of animal products. They smoked

marijuana in an effort to reach a higher state of consciousness and to achieve a feeling of

oneness and harmony.

 

Music, especially rock and folk music, occupied an important place in the counterculture.

Concerts provided the opportunity to form seemingly impromptu communities to

celebrate youth, rebellion, and individuality. In mid-August 1969, nearly 400,000 people

attended a music festival in rural Bethel, New York, many for free (Figure 30.3). They

jammed roads throughout the state, and thousands had to be turned around and sent

home. Thirty-two acts performed for a crowd that partook freely of marijuana, LSD, and

alcohol during the rainy three-day event that became known as Woodstock (after the

nearby town) and became the cultural touchstone of a generation. No other event better

symbolized the cultural independence and freedom of Americans coming of age in the

1960s.

 

Figure 30.3 The crowd at Woodstock greatly exceeded the fifty thousand expected. Mark Goff covered

Woodstock as a young freelance reporter for Kaleidoscope, a Milwaukee-based alternative newspaper,

 

 

Source: US History. Authored by: P. Scott Corbett, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Paul Vickery, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/us-history. License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11740/latest/

and captured this image of Swami Satchidananda, who declared music “’the celestial sound that controls

the whole universe” at the opening ceremony.

 

AMERICAN INDIAN PROTEST As the young, primarily white men and women who became hippies strove to create new

identities for themselves, they borrowed liberally from other cultures, including that of

Native Americans. At the same time, many Indians were themselves seeking to maintain

their culture or retrieve elements that had been lost. In 1968, a group of Indian activists,

including Dennis Banks, George Mitchell, and Clyde Bellecourt, convened a gathering of

two hundred people in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and formed the American Indian

Movement (AIM) (Figure 30.4). The organizers were urban dwellers frustrated by decades

of poverty and discrimination. In 1970, the average life expectancy of Indians was forty-

six years compared to the national average of sixty-nine. The suicide rate was twice that

of the general population, and the infant mortality rate was the highest in the country.

Half of all Indians lived on reservations, where unemployment reached 50 percent.

Among those in cities, 20 percent lived below the poverty line.

 

 

Source: US History. Authored by: P. Scott Corbett, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Paul Vickery, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/us-history. License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11740/latest/

 

Figure 30.4 This teepee was erected on the National Mall near the Washington Monument as part of an

AIM demonstration (a). Note that the AIM flag (b) combines an Indian silhouette with the peace sign, the

ubiquitous symbol of the 1960s and ‘70s.

 

On November 20, 1969, a small group of Indian activists landed on Alcatraz Island (the

former site of a notorious federal prison) in San Francisco Bay. They announced plans to

build an American Indian cultural center, including a history museum, an ecology center,

and a spiritual sanctuary. People on the mainland provided supplies by boat, and

celebrities visited Alcatraz to publicize the cause. More people joined the occupiers until,

at one point, they numbered about four hundred. From the beginning, the federal

government negotiated with them to persuade them to leave. They were reluctant to

accede, but over time, the occupiers began to drift away of their own accord. Government

forces removed the final holdouts on June 11, 1971, nineteen months after the occupation

began.

 

 

Source: US History. Authored by: P. Scott Corbett, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Paul Vickery, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Provided by: OpenStax College. Located at: http://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/us-history. License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11740/latest/

The next major demonstration came in 1972 when AIM members and others marched on

Washington, DC—a journey they called the “Trail of Broken Treaties”—and occupied

the offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The group presented a list of demands,

which included improved housing, education, and economic opportunities in Indian

communities; the drafting of new treaties; the return of Indian lands; and protections for

native religions and culture.

 

The most dramatic event staged by AIM was the occupation of the Indian community of

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in February 1973. Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge

Indian Reservation, had historical significance: It was the site of an 1890 massacre of

members of the Lakota tribe by the U.S. Army. AIM went to the reservation following

the failure of a group of Oglala to impeach the tribal president Dick Wilson, whom they

accused of corruption and the use of strong-arm tactics to silence critics. AIM used the

occasion to criticize the U.S. government for failing to live up to its treaties with native

peoples.

 

The federal government surrounded the area with U.S. marshals, FBI agents, and other

law enforcement forces. A siege ensued that lasted seventy-one days, with frequent

gunfire from both sides, wounding a U.S. marshal as well as an FBI agent, and killing

two Indians. The government did very little to meet the protesters’ demands. Two AIM

leaders, Dennis Banks and Russell Means, were arrested, but charges were later

dismissed. The Nixon administration had already halted the federal policy of termination

and restored millions of acres to tribes. Increased funding for Indian education,

healthcare, legal services, housing, and economic development followed, along with the

hiring of more Indian employees in the BIA.

 

 

  • HIPPIES AND THE COUNTERCULTURE
  • AMERICAN INDIAN PROTEST