Clyde Bellecourt

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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