A PROTEST FOR LARRY CASUSE

Protestors for the shooting death of Navajo activist, Larry Casuse. Navajo tribal mambers wiith signs, Gallup, NM. March 1973

In early 1973 I photographed a march protesting the shooting death of a young Navajo activist, Larry Casuse. Casuse had abducted the Galllup, New Mexico mayor to protest his liquor sales to Navajos.

A member of the American Indian Movement addresses Larry Casuse protest marchers. March, 1973.
A member of the American Indian Movement addresses Larry Casuse protest marchers. March, 1973.
Protestors came from the recent Wounded Knee occupation and several tribes to participate in the march.
Protestors came from the recent Wounded Knee occupation and several tribes to participate in the march.

On March 1, 1973, Larry Casuse, a nineteen year old Navajo student at the University of New Mexico, along with another young Navajo, Robert Nakaidinae, abducted the Gallup, New Mexico mayor, Emmett Garcia, as a protest against Garcia’s sale of liquor to Gallup’s Navajos.

The mayor was the proprietor of the Navajo Inn, which was just outside the border of the Navajo Nation. It was one of the city’s largest liquor vendors to the Navajos. Casuse went through several legal channels to try to shut the bar down, or have it moved further from the reservation border. He went to court, filed petitions, complained to the State liquor board, protested to the mayor and city council members. Nothing worked.

Marchers protesting the shooting of the young Navajo activist, Larry Casuse, in Gallup, New Mexico. March, 1973.
Marchers protesting the shooting of the young Navajo activist, Larry Casuse, in Gallup, New Mexico. March, 1973.

Casuse and Nakaidinae forced Garcia at gunpoint to leave City Hall and enter a nearby sporting goods store where they expected to hold him until he agreed to close the bar. Police responded. Garcia escaped by jumping through one of the store’s front windows. The police immediately opened fire, wounding the mayor, and shooting Casuse six times. Nakaidinae surrendered.

Two Navajo Indian women watch a march protesting the shooting of Larry Casuse.Navajos and members of othA member of the American Indian Movement addresses Larry Casuse protest marchers. March, 1973.er tribes took part in the march. This incident closely followed the American Indian Movement’s seizure of Wounded Knee. Many of the marchers in the Casuse demonstration had come directly from Wounded Knee to participate.

At the time the news media presented the simple story that Casuse kidnapped the mayor and was killed in a shootout with the police during the rescue. Actually, no shots were fired by Casuse or Nakaidinae. Now, just over fifty years later Casuse is being recognized as someone who fought to improve the living conditions of his people.

For more information check out The Red Nation interview with Larry Casuse’s sister, Ursula Casuse-Carrillo and David Correia, the author of a book about Larry Casuse, “An Enemy Such as This.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpEXLkdFfL8

All photos taken with a Leica M4 and a Leica Summilux 35mm or Leica Summicron 50mm lens on Tri-X film.