Clyde Howard Bellecourt was a civil rights organizer noted for co-founding the American Indian Movement (AIM) in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1968 with Dennis Banks, Eddie Benton-Banai, and George Mitchell.
Born May 8, 1936, on the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, the Bellecourt family moved to Minneapolis Twin Cities in the 1950s. As a young adult, he was convicted and spent time in prison, where he became involved in starting a cultural program at prison for Native Americans. This led to the creation of American Indian Movement after his release.
Under Bellecourt's leadership, AIM raised awareness of tribal issues related to the federal government, monitored police harassment in Minneapolis, created welfare programs for urban Indians, and founded Indian 'survival schools' in the Twin Cities to teach children life skills and to help them learn their traditional cultures. He helped initiate the Trail of Broken Treaties, a long march to Washington, DC in 1972 to serve as a first step to renegotiating federal-tribal nations' treaties and relations. In addition, he founded non-profit groups to undertake economic development to benefit Native Americans.
In 1973, AIM led an occupation of the Town of Wounded Knee within the Pine Ridge Reservation. FBI agents and U.S. Marshals soon surrounded the town, and there was a 71-day armed standoff. Two people were killed in the events. Bellecourt became a negotiator in the incident.
Bellecourt was influential over the decades in speaking on Native American rights and directing Minneapolis branch of AIM. He passed away January 2022 at age 85.
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August 27, 1973 - Unidentified interviewee with Bob Potter verifying reports of Clyde Bellecourt allegedly being shot by AIM leader Carter Camp.
August 31, 1973 - MPR’s Kevin McKiernan reports on Clyde Bellecourt’s hospitalization, and discussion to move him over security risk.
September 3, 1973 - MPR’s Kevin McKiernan reports on the condition and fall out from shooting of AIM leader Clyde Bellecourt.
October 18, 1973 - Clyde Bellecourt talks about the federal government conspiracy to assassinate the leadership of the AIM. He says the government is blatantly trying to silence voices of oppressed, such as the Black Panther leaders, the May Day 1971 crowds, and the Indians indicted for Wounded Knee. Bellecourt atates that Oglala Nation and AIM accept the challenge of BIA.
February 20, 1974 - MPR’s Bob Potter reports on Clyde Bellecourt speech on Indian reform policy.
September 19, 1974 - Clyde Bellecourt states that AIM says U.S. government has criminally failed in its mission to protect Indian rights. The conduct of the Department of Justice has left little reason for Indians to trust that agency ever. The AIM will launch its greatest effort ever to expose a dual system of justice in South Dakota.
November 29, 1974 - Clyde Bellecourt was invited to participate in an international meeting of the World Council of Churches at Montreux, Switzerland, the first WCC to invite representation by Native Americans. He says the principal goal is to elicit support for American Indian treaty rights. He also states that since AIM's formation in 1968, its’ three worst enemies have been the Christian Church, the Office of Education, and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
May 21, 1980 - MPR’s Dan Olson reports on opening of first American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center scheduled to open in Minneapolis. Olson interviews Clyde Bellecourt, former American Indian movement activist and one of the founders of the Indian-controlled survival schools in the Twin Cities.
August 12, 1982 - MPR’s Dan Olson reports on fight to keep open Little Earth, a housing project of 212 units of relatively inexpensive housing located at Franklin and Cedar in Minneapolis. It is also one of the centers of the Minneapolis Indian community. Report includes commentary from Little Earth board member Clyde Bellecourt and Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.
January 8, 1986 - MPR’s Tom Meersman reports on members of White Earth tribe that held press conference protesting current legislative action regarding land disputes between tribes, private land owners, and the government.