One of the recurring themes in The Monkey Wrench Gang is the authorities' mistaken assumption that the damage was being caused by American Indians.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the American Indian Movement (AIM) or the AIM Grand Grand Governing Council (AIM GGC) was formed. (There was a schism in 1993, resulting in two AIM groups.) Many of their early actions were confrontations with the government, to bring attention to the gross injustice that was and had been visited on the American Indians. Here are some of the actions excerpted from the AIM website (hyperlinks added):
ALCATRAZ ISLAND occupied for 19 months. AIM was there when United Indians of All Tribes reclaimed federal land in the name of Native Nations. First Indian radio broadcasts--Radio Free Alcatraz--heard in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
AIM takeover of abandoned property at the naval air station near Minneapolis focuses attention on Indian education and leads to early grants for Indian education.
CITIZEN'S ARREST OF JOHN OLD CROW: Takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' main office in Washington D.C. to show improper BIA policies. 24 arrested for "trespassing" and released. BIA Commissioner Louis Bruce shows his AIM membership card at the meeting held after the release of those arrested.
TAKEOVER OF DAM: AIM assists the Lac Court Orieles Ojibwa in Wisconsin in taking over a dam controlled by Northern States Power which flooded much of the reservation land. This action leads to support by government officials and eventual settlement, returning over 25,000 acres of land to the tribe and actually providing significant monies and business opportunities to the tribe.
TRAIL OF BROKEN TREATIES : a march on Washington, DC ending in the occupation of BIA headquarters and resulting in the presentation of a 20-point solution paper to President Nixon.
WOUNDED KNEE '73: AIM was contacted by Lakota elders for assistance in dealing with the corruption within the BIA and Tribal Council, which led to the famed 71-day occupation and battle with the US. armed forces.
With this type of activity going on, it was easy to see how the authorities could have suspected American Indian involvement.
Here are some books that can tell you more about the American Indian Movement: