Fifty years later, Casuse ‘an ancestor and a predecessor’ in Indigenous struggle

Fifty years ago today, Gallup police shot and killed Larry Casuse, a young Navajo man, in a local sporting goods store.

Casuse, a second-year University of New Mexico student, had taken then-Gallup Mayor Emmett Garcia hostage that day, a shocking move that was part of a yearslong struggle to get officials to recognize and act on the violence perpetrated against Native people in the McKinley County town that borders the Navajo Nation.

Garcia, albeit injured, walked away from the gunfight that erupted between Casuse, a friend and more than a dozen police officers.

Casuse never walked out of the store on March 1, 1973.

“Most people, if they know Larry for any reason, they know the events of the last day of his life,” said UNM professor David Correia, the author of a book on the Casuse family.

But Larry Casuse was more than the last day of his life. Many Native American organizers draw inspiration from his story, placing it within a longer history of resistance, said Melanie Yazzie, assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and cofounder of The Red Nation, a grassroots Indigenous liberation organization.

UNM’s American Studies department, in partnership with the campus’s Native American student organization and the Institute for American Indian Research, is hosting “Larry Casuse: A Day of Remembrance” on Wednesday. It’s an event to honor Casuse’s legacy — one they say loudly resonates in 2023, when violence against Native peop