Clyde Warrior

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Clyde Merton Warrior (1939–1968) was a member of the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma[1] and raised according to their traditions. In the 1960s, he became an activist for Native American sovereignty and civil rights, seeking to improve conditions for his people.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Clyde Warrior was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma on 31 August 1939. His mother was Gloria Collins, and his maternal grandparents Bill and Metha Collins were Ponca traditionalists. He learned a wide range of tribal songs and was a champion fancy dancer in his teens.[1]

Warrior attended Cameron Junior College in Lawton, Oklahoma. He earned the Outstanding Indian Student Award in 1962, and he was elected President of the Southwest Regional Indian Youth Council.[1] Later, he earned a Bachelors degree from Northeastern State University in 1966.[3]

Marriage and family[edit]

In 1962, Warrior married Della Hopper (Otoe-Missouria). The couple had two daughters.[3]


Warrior witnessed discrimination against Indian people, crushing poverty in Native communities, and incompetence in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He fought injustice and worked to promote Native pride. He wrote two highly influential essays in the mid-1960s, "Which One Are You?: Five Types of Young Indians" and "We Are Not Free."[3]

Believing that the National Congress of American Indians was too conservative and not meeting the needs of Native youth, Warrior co-founded the National Indian Youth Council in 1961.[3] He promoted self-determination and inspired many young Native activists during the 1960s and 1970s.[4]


Warrior died at the age of 28 on July 19, 1968 from liver failure after years of alcoholism.[5] He is buried in Ponca City. His epitaph says, "A Fresh Air of New Indian Idealism."[3]


"We are not free. We do not make choices. Our choices are made for us."[3]

"The sewage of Europe does not run through these veins."

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Clyde Merton Warrior", Ponca Nation. (retrieved 6 August 2009)
  2. ^ Obituaries - TIME
  3. ^ a b c d e f Cowger, Thomas. Clyde Warrior. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (6 August 2009)
  4. ^ Van de Logt, Mark. Ponca. Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (6 August 2009)
  5. ^ Bruce Elliott Johansen, Native Americans Today: A Biographical Dictionary (ABC-CLIO, Jun 22, 2010), 271. Ebook.