american indian movement


For additional reading, please see also:

Editors Note (8/19/2015): The above quote is actually a tweet of a Twitter user named Vann Newkirk, user handle fivefifths

‘”This cop is holding a taser to the neck of a Lakota man blocking the passage of a beer truck in White Clay, Nebraska. Despite police violence, the action was a success - two Budweiser trucks never delivered their cargo.

Read more about the action and the Moccasins on the Ground training here:

White Clay exists only to sell alcohol to residents of the adjacent Pine Ridge reservation and profit from the suffering inflicted by alcoholism.” circa 2013 (source)


1973 - The Wounded Knee Incident began on February 27, 1973, when approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The protest followed the failure of an effort of the Oglala Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protesters attacked the United States government’s breaking of treaties with Indian people and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations.

On the eighth day the US government issued an ultimatum, which the activists promptly burned. Around this time the leaders of the group declared the territory of Wounded Knee to be the independent Oglala Nation and demanded negotiations with the U.S. Secretary of State.

Oglala and AIM activists controlled the town for 71 days while the United States Marshals Service, FBI agents, and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area. The activists chose the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre for its symbolic value. Both sides were armed and shooting was frequent. A Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota were killed by US fire. Around a half million bullets were fired at the town by US forces during the siege.

Gifs are from this really interesting documentary: [video]

I think the U.S. government is going to die in its own quagmire of brutality, its own quagmire of hatred and discrimination and the brutality that it has committed over the years and the honors given to people for committing those acts. For instance, for the massacre at Wounded Knee the U.S. government gave out Medals of Honor for killing women and children and that’s a disgraceful, disgraceful chapter and those are the kinds of thing that America is going to die from. Native people will still be here and the good people of America will be here too, but the federal system that has sponsored all these things, that’s endorsed them and still endorses them will die of all that stuff.” - Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement

I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Ojibwa Warrior” by Dennis Banks - essential reading! 


1973 - After white businessman Darold Schmidt was charged with involuntary manslaughter instead of Murder after stabbing Wesley Bad Heart Bull to death on the Pine Ridge reservation more than 200 members of the American Indian Movement, or AIM, arrived for the hearing at the courthouse in Custer. Sarah Bad Heart Bull, the victim’s mother, was beaten on the courthouse steps while trying to enter into talks with authorities, after which the courthouse erupted into a riot between police and American Indians, during which AIM burned down the courthouse. [video]


Today in History: Wounded Knee Occupation of 1973

The occupation began as a demonstration for Lakota rights organized by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the town of Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.1 For the organizers, the Lakota people, and historians, the community has great significance. Eighty-three years earlier, in 1890, Wounded Knee was the site of a major clash between the Lakota and the United States Army. This original event is considered the end of the Indian Wars.

In 1973, the community on the Pine Ridge Reservation was deeply divided along political and cultural lines. Some community members asserted that the tribal chairman had abused his power by placing the tribal police force under his direct command and using violence and threats to intimidate community members who opposed his vision. The chairman’s supporters argued that he was working to preserve law and order on the reservation. 

From what I understood at the time, there were many people passionate about making a dramatic stand at Wounded Knee that would highlight everything we as Oglala Lakota and generally, Indigenous people everywhere, were suffering with and fighting against. –An excerpt from an oral history entitled, “Grassroots Memories of a Teenage Girl 1973” provided by Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs.

Declaring themselves representatives of the leaders of the Oglala Nation, AIM members seized the town of Wounded Knee on February 27. Heading the protest were AIM leaders whose goals included recognition of the1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Sioux Nation, the removal of the tribal council, and new elections. The 71-day occupation attracted national media coverage and reawakened a national debate over the treatment of American Indians throughout the United States.

Government officials and members of the self-proclaimed Guardians of the Oglala Nation placed roadblocks to prevent access to the area, which the protesters had declaried to be the Independent Oglala Nation. Escalating tensions led to gunfire. Two people were killed from gunshot wounds and more than a dozen were wounded. One federal officer was seriously injured.2 After a series of negotiations, the occupation ended on May 8, 1973. Altogether, over 400 people were arrested as a result of the Wounded Knee occupation, resulting in 275 cases in federal, state and tribal courts.

On May 5th, an agreement was reached calling for a meeting on treaty rights between Native American leaders and government officials. A meeting was held on May 30th, but officials from President Nixon’s administration declined to hold further discussions. The subsequent trials of AIM leaders Russel Means and Dennis Banks attracted national attention. Charges against both men were dismissed after Judge Fred Joseph Nichol determined that there had been prosecutorial misconduct.

The occupation of Wounded Knee was a significant moment of Native American activism. Decades after the siege, many of the facts and the interpretation of the events at Wounded Knee in 1973 remain contested and controversial among  American Indians and non-Indians.


Today, November 20th, marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island. The occupation, carried out from November 1969 to June 1971, was initiated by the Native American group Indians of All Tribes (IAT), and quickly joined by other individuals and groups, like the American Indian Movement (AIM). It is widely considered “the cradle of the modern Native American civil rights movement.” Veterans of the 19-month occupation would go on to play important roles in other Native organizations and campaigns. 

The initial 79 occupiers hoped to establish a Native-controlled cultural center, and to hold the American government accountable for its historical and ongoing oppression of Indians. 

The full text of the Alcatraz Proclamation, released by the IAT at the beginning of the campaign, after the cut. 

For more information, see this archive of primary documents associated with the Alcatraz occupation, this article, and the Wikipedia article.  This Indian Country Today article includes embedded video of original footage and of two documentaries, “We Were There: AIM and Alcatraz” and “The Mouse That Roared.”

Keep reading


The occupation and blockade of Wounded Knee began as a demonstration for Lakota rights organized by members of the AIM. For the Lakota people, the community has great significance. In 1890, Wounded Knee was the site of a major clash between the Lakota and the United States Army, an event many consider to be the end of the Indian Wars.
John Trudell, American Indian activist, poet and actor, dies in California at 69
LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Trudell, who was a spokesman for American Indian protesters during their 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island and later headed the American Indian Movement, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Many of you may not know him, but the man was a legend.

He was the spokesperson/rep for the Alcatraz occupation back in the day.
Guy was one of the leading indigenous activists, writers and poets.
He’s done a lot to advance the lives of the indigenous.

RIP John.

Solidarity between African Americans and Native Americans grew with the Black Power movement of the 1970s, whose goals were closer to the nationalism espoused by American Indian Movement activists. Pictured here (left to right) are Muhammad Ali, Buffy St. Marie, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Harold Smith, Stevie Wonder, Marlon Brando, Max Gail, Dick Gregory, Richie Havens, and David Amram at a concert at the end of the Longest Walk, a 3,600-mile protest march from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in the name of Native rights. (Caption information courtesy

Considering the “IndiVisible” History of African Americans and American Indians

African Americans and American Indians can both tell tales of historical injustice—but to what extent do those tales overlap? Often quite a bit, as demonstrated by IndiVisible, a traveling exhibit created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

IndiVisible looks at the multi-dimensional relationship of the two groups. While the exhibit emphasizes the ways in which African Americans and Indians have common cause — with such apt exhibit sub-headings as “Stolen People on Stolen Land” and “United in Common Struggle” — it is also unafraid to deal with points of contention. The exhibit discusses intermarriage, blood quantum, the notion of “passing” as another race, and the ongoing drama surrounding the Cherokee Freedmen.

On a day when America celebrates the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s apt to consider the commonalities in the parallel quests for Native and civil rights during the 1960s and 1970s. The page “Civil Rights, Sovereign Rights,” on the exhibit’s website offers simple and insightful analysis:

The civil rights and Native rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s changed America. Both campaigns were driven by a thirst for justice, freedom, and respect. But the two had different philosophies. The civil rights movement had the goal of full inclusion of African American citizens as self-sufficient, self-sustaining members of American society. The Native rights movement had a dual goal—achieving the civil rights of Native peoples as American citizens, and the sovereign rights of Native nations. Native activists fought against dispossession, racism, poverty, and violence, but they also focused on protecting treaty rights and keeping Native tribes distinct. African-Native American people bridged the gaps between these two movements, bringing people from both movements together and showing that they were all part of the same struggle.

IndiVisible is showing at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, through March 18; on February 9, it will begin a six-month run at the National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. For a schedule of future stops, consult the website’s Tour Schedule.