Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a landless farmer and half-Indian mother. Her paternal grandfather, a white settler, farmer, and veterinarian, had been a labor activist and Socialist in Oklahoma with the Industrial Workers of the World in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The stories of her grandfather inspired her to lifelong social justice activism.Married at eighteen, she left with her husband for San Francisco, California, where she has lived most of the years since, although the marriage ended. Her account of life up to leaving Oklahoma is recorded in Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie. She has a daughter, Michelle. Roxanne graduated, majoring in History, from San Francisco State College, a working class public institution, but was selected for History graduate school at University of California at Berkeley, transferring to University of California, Los Angeles to complete her doctorate in History. From 1967 to 1972, she was a full time activist living in various parts of the United States, traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Cuba. This time of her life and the aftermath, 1960-1975, is the story told in Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years. Roxanne took a position teaching in a newly established Native American Studies program at California State University at Hayward, near San Francisco, and helped develop the Department of Ethnic Studies, as well as Women's Studies. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights. Her first published book, The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation and its Struggle for Sovereignty, was published in 1977 and was presented as the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians of the Americas, held at United Nations' headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. That book was followed by two others in the following years: Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980 and Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination. In 1981, she was asked to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Miskitu Indians in the northeastern region of the country. Her two trips there that year coincided with the beginning of United States government's sponsorship of a proxy war to overthrow the Sandinistas, with the northeastern region on the border with Honduras becoming a war zone and the basis for extensive propaganda carried out by the Reagan administration against the Sandinistas. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras from 1981 to 1989, she monitored what was called the Contra War. Her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War was published in 2005.
Piedmont Schools; Central High School; Ph.D. History, UCLA, 1974.University of Oklahoma undergraduate, 1956-57; B.A. History, San Francisco State, 1963; Graduate Studies, History, UC Berkeley, 1963-64; M.A., History, UCLA, 1965.oInternational Institute of Human Rights, Strasbourg: Diplôme of the International Law of Human Rights, 1983.oM.F.A., Creative Writing, Mills College University of Oklahoma, 1956-57; San Francisco State, (B.A.); UCLA, (Ph.D).
Grew up in Piedmont, Oklahoma, graduated Central High School, Oklahoma City, and wrote about Oklahoma in book, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie.
BOOKS Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. Blood on the Border: Memoir of the Contra War. South End Press, 2005; Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-75. City Lights Books, 2002; Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie. Verso, June 1997. Issued in a new edition from University of Oklahoma Press, February 2006.Indigenous Peoples: A Global Quest for Justice. (ed.) A Report for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues, Geneva, London: Zed Press, 1987; The Miskito Indians of Nicaragua: Caught in the Crossfire. London: Minority Rights Group, 1988; La Cuestion Miskita en la Revolucidn Nicaragiiense. Mexico D.F.: Editorial Linea, 1986; Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination. London: Zed Press; New York: Praeger Publishers, 1984; Roots of Resistance: Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980. Los Angeles: University of California, 1980; Native American Energy Resources and Development. (ed.) Albuquerque: Institute for Native American Development (INAD), University of New Mexico, 1980; Economic Development in American Indian Reservations. (ed.) Albuquerque: INAD, University of New Mexico, 1979; The Great Sioux Nation: Oral History of the Sioux-United States Treaty of 1868. New York: Moon Books (Random House), 1977.
PARTIAL LIST OF ARTICLES/REVIEWS "Afterword" Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality, and Solidarity: Writing and Speeches, 1878-1937. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2004; "The Grid of History: Cowboys and Indians" in Imperialism Now. New York: Monthly Review, July-August 2003; Review of Alison Brysk, From Tribal Village to Global Village: Indian Rights and International Relations in Latin America in Latin American Politics and Society: 43:4 (2002); James Joyce and the Tradition of Anti-Colonial Revolution. Working Papers Series in Cultural Studies, Ethnicity, and Race Relations. Working Paper No. 2. Pullman: Washington State University, Department of Comparative American Cultures, 1999; "Outlaw Woman: Chapters from a Feminist Memoir-in-Progress" in Snitow and DuPlessis, eds., The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998; "Southwestern Dust Bowl and Wartime Immigrants to San Diego" in The San Diego Reader, January 1998; "Bloody Footprints" in Wray and Newitz (eds.), White Trash: Race and Class in the United States. Routledge, 1997; "The Image and Role of `Okie' Migrants in US History" in Donald H. Akenson, ed., Canadian Papers in Rural History. Vol. X. Ontario: Langdale Press, 1996; Excerpt from unpublished manuscript, Red Dirt: An Oklahoma Memoir in Queen's Quarterly 102:3 (Fall 1995); "The United States Survey Text: What Has Changed; What Needs to Change? in The History Teacher 28:2 (February 1995); "The Responsibility of Historians" in Monthly Review 46:3 (July- August, 1994); "International Indian Treaty Council, 1974-94;" "Russell Tribunal 1980;" and "Trail of Broken Treaties, 1972" in Native America in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994; "One or Two Things I Know about US: `Okies' in American Culture" in Radical History Review 59 (Spring 1994); "Commentary: 17th Century Spanish Colony of New Mexico" in American Indian Culture and Research Journal 17:3 (1993); "Aboriginal Peoples and Imperialism in the Western Hemisphere" in Monthly Review. Vol. 44 (September 1992).
CONFERENCE PAPERS AND LECTURES [Partial List, 1999-2005]: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, December 2005: "Looking back on the Contra War against Nicaragua."; American Society of Ethnohistory Annual Meeting, November 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico: "Geopolitical Borders and Indigenous Peoples."; Organization of American Historians (OAH) annual meeting, May 2005: Panel on Women and Social Activism; Conference on Indigenous Sovereignty, Columbia University, New York, April 2005; Keynote speaker, "Red Dirt Education" conference, Oklahoma University, December 2004; Keynote speaker at "Conference on Racism" University of Colorado, Denver campus, November 2004; Panel member, Conference on Genocide in El Salvador, 1934, Columbia University, New York, October 2004; Lecture on U.S. Imperialism and Native Americans, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, October 2004; Aztlanahuac: Symposium on Mesoamerica in North America, 13-15 May 2004, University of California, Los Angeles; Indigenous Peoples and International Law, Seminar for public school teachers at California State University, Hayward. June 2002; Women's Liberation and the 1960s, University of New Orleans, April 2002; Beyond Market and Plan seminar, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 22-27 March 2002; Intersection of Race, Gender, and Class panel, Boalt School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, October 2001; Perspectives on the Women's Liberation Movement, Eastern Washington State University, April 2000; South African Historical Society Biennial Conference, University of the Western Cape, 11-14 July 1999. Theme of conference: Not Telling: Secrecy, Lies and History. Present paper, "America Forgets."
UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS FORA AND MISSIONS United Nations Commission on Human Rights, March 2005; United Nations Expert Seminar on Treaties and Agreements between States and Indigenous Nations and Peoples, December 2003; United Nations Working Group on the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights, UN offices, Geneva, December 2002, 2004; World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, 31 August-8 September 2001; Non-Governmental representation in U.N. Human Rights fora, 1977-2001; Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, UN Offices, Geneva, Switzerland; Working Group on Indigenous Populations, Geneva; Commission on Human Rights, Geneva; United Nations Decade for the World's Indigenous Peoples:Conferences in New York and Geneva, 1995, 1998; United Nations Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination: Conferences in Geneva, 1978, 1983, 2001; United Nations Decades for Women Conferences: Mexico, 1975; Copenhagen, 1980; Nairobi, 1985; Beijing, 1995; United Nations' International Conference on Central American Refugees, Guatemala, 29-31 May 1989: Special Guest Expert; United Nations' Seminar on Indigenous Peoples, Geneva, Switzerland, 16-20 January 1989: Expert Participant; Meeting of Experts on the Revision of Convention 107 (Indigenous Peoples) of the International Labour Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland, September 1986; Missions as non-governmental human rights observer United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Invitations to investigate and report on the situation of Nicaraguan Indian refugees, November 1984; January, 1985; September, 1985; Invitation to observe repatriation of Nicaraguan Indian refugees to Nicaragua, June 1988; UN non-governmental investigation of human rights,Chiapas, Mexico, April 1998.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2005. These images and texts are made available for non-profit, educational, scholarly purposes, such as research, teaching and private study.