Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Shades of ‘Red’: Solidarity with the Native American Sovereignty Movement in Late Cold War Central Europe

Fri31  Mar04:55pm(20 mins)
Fore Hall


Gyorgy Toth1
1 University of Stirling, UK


From the mid-1970s, leaders of Native American organizations such as the American Indian Movement travelled in Central Europe to build a transatlantic alliance. This alliance shored up the financial strength and boosted the morale of radical sovereignty activists during their supremely testing time - the court trials of the occupiers of Wounded Knee. The axis they built over the following decade, spanning the Atlantic from the North American Plains to Mittelëuropa, served to circulate moral and political support, financial contributions, and people in solidarity. The alliance entered a new phase when, in the 1980s, Central European “green” environmental and anti-nuclear activists sought the help of Native groups.

This paper redefines Central European solidarity with the Native American sovereignty rights movement during late socialism as an agent of ‘red’ internationalism. It will discuss how this solidarity worked and was, at times, subverted by various actors in East Germany and Native America. Cooperation with Native Americans, moreover, subtly reconnected both Germanies across the iron curtain. Ultimately, I show how socialist internationalism often served as a pretext for certain grassroots actors to engage with certain specific aspects of “America”.