Randy Lewis was born on the Colville Indian reservation, but lived “on and off the reservation” because his parents fished at Celilo Falls, Oregon before that traditional Indian fishing place was flooded by the Dalles Dam in 1957. Lewis was recruited to join the National Indian Youth Council after graduating High School. While working with the NIYC in Oklahoma and New Mexico, he networked with Indian activists from around the country. Lewis then returned to the Northwest and enrolled as an undergraduate at Western Washington College in Bellingham, Washington. While at Western in the late 1960s, Lewis helped found the American Indian Student Union and helped organize a “Right To Be Indian” conference that drew together Indian student activists from across the nation.
Lewis and a number of Indians then living in the Puget Sound participated in the invasion and occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco in November, 1969. While there, he met Bernie Whitebear, and a few months later would join Whitebear in occupying Fort Lawton and demanding that the soon-to-be surplus military base be returned to all of Seattle’s “urban Indians.” Lewis has served a longtime board member for the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation— the group he helped create to fulfill Indians’ victory at Fort Lawton, and transform the 20 acres they received by building the Daybreak Star Cultural Center and People’s Lodge.
Lewis shared his experiences in two interviews. The first was conducted by Teresa Brownwolf Powers on November 21, 2005; the second by Lossom Allen and Trevor Griffey on April 18, 2006.To the right are streaming-video excerpts of the interviews.