Chief Clinton Rickard May 19, 1882-June 14, 1971
The Indian Defense League of America was founded in 1926 by Chief Clinton Rickard. Born in 1882 on the Tuscarora Reservation near Sanborn NY and lacking in a formal education, Chief Rickard became known among citizens and politicians alike as an expert on Indian-American legal history and would become a leader in the Indian Rights movement.
In his lifetime, Chief Rickard was very much a modern Indian with deep roots in his cultural traditions. Often referring to "the Indian way", he was a seamless communicator bridging the white world and the indian world as a leader, educator and an advocate for Indian nationalism.
In the 1920's the course of his life became permanently dedicated to the Rights of Indian people with the founding of the IDLA, advocating predominantly for the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Algonquin people being arrested and denied their rights at the US-Canada border as sovereign peoples with the passing of the restrictive provisions of the US Immigration Act of 1924 which restricted the free movement of the sovereign indigenous peoples of North America. The goal of the IDLA was to open the border between the USA and Canada once again freely to Indians. Once this aim was achieved, the IDLA carried on the fight for Indian rights in general, and to educate the mainstream on the values of Indian culture.
Border Crossing Celebration
The Border Crossing celebration, first celebrated by the IDLA in Niagara Falls in 1928 is now in its 87th year. It serves admirably as an educational medium, creating awareness of the existence and value of indian people and their rights.