Listen: 20th anniversary of AIM

MPR’s Tom Meersman looks at the 20th anniversary of American Indian Movement (AIM). Report looks at the history, actions, and controversies of organization.

Meersman gets varied perspectives from Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of group; Tim Giago, editor and publisher of Lakota Times; and Frank Denny, former Catholic priest who was involved with movement.


(00:00:00) Clyde Bellecourt was 31 years old in the summer of 1968 when he Dennis Banks and a handful of others held a series of meetings in South Minneapolis and decided to organize the American Indian movement. They felt that little or nothing was being done to help Indians improve their health education and employment and to retain their culture and Heritage now 20 years later Belcourt is working for a jobs training program for Indians and is still involved with aim. He recently served 21 Months in prison on drug conspiracy charges but says he has rededicated himself to the Indian Community much as he did in
(00:00:37) 1968, but we knew that there had to be some type of advocate a strong advocate for a name people that would stand up and start dealing with these issues back in 1968, you know poverty and discrimination affirmative action was strictly a black and white issue and then people are being left out of the whole process. So we settled Emotion into effect that became known as the American and movement to start changing start confronting the institutions that were responsible for these conditions that
(00:01:09) existed in the early years of aim Belcourt and others established Street Patrols in Minneapolis to deal with what they considered police brutality. They organised all Indian schools to teach youngsters Indian languages religion and tradition and they launched an effort to educate the American public about the plight of Native Americans and the history of their treaties. Ames primary message was self-determination its tactics involved confrontation in 1972 across country Caravan to Washington DC organized by aim ended in the Takeover of Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in 1973, 200m leaders and supporters armed with weapons entered Wounded Knee South Dakota and occupied the village for 71 days during a violent struggle for leadership of the Pine Ridge reservation Tim guy. Go editor and publisher of Lakota Times. The largest privately owned Indian newspaper in the country works out of the Pine Ridge reservation and remembers those years with bitterness.
(00:02:12) We reached that point where Indian lore was fighting Indian where there was violence from one family member to another and it reached the point of almost total deterioration. I think then and only then did a lot of members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in particular and members of other tribes in the United States because become quite a bit disillusioned with the methods that were used by the American Indian movement. I think initially there was a lot of sincerity and a lot of support but over the years. The tactics have destroyed a lot of that
(00:02:44) support ego says many Indians have also been put off by the fact that some members have criminal backgrounds and some of their leaders have espoused Marxist ideals. But Gallego says the worst effect of a Min addition to lives that were lost during past violence. Was that many Industries and corporations got scared away from reservations in the mid-1970s at just the time when they were considering building assembly plants and Manufacturing operations to take Each of the large unemployed Indian labor force Gallego and some others who asked not to be identified in this report say that a team has probably done more harm than good for Native Americans. Although they appreciate aims efforts to blow the whistle whenever advertising firms or others produce messages that stereotype Indians or are otherwise disrespectful or demeaning to their Nations Belcourt defends aim and its confrontational tactics the passive Indian. He says surrenders life to the Of others a lot of
(00:03:44) tribes today and a lot of Indian organizations are doing the same thing that the American and movement did back in 1968 the self-determination that we talked about the philosophy of the American and women of self-determination. A lot of people have picked up on that lot of programs that are being operated today are being operated by Indian people
(00:04:02) one non-indian who was involved with a man in its early years is former Catholic priest Frank Denny. However much Indians argue among themselves about aim dead. He says the organization has been successful in bringing Indian concerns before the public
(00:04:18) said at least as I know it around Minnesota owes a tremendous amount of the Indian people and I don't think the Indian people are recognized today for the contribution that they have made and the American Indian movement is calling our attention to that and more power to him for doing.
(00:04:37) So in addition to today's events aim has scheduled a five-day. Conference and powwow at Fort Snelling State Park during the Labor Day weekend organizers. Say the meeting will formulate aims agenda for the future as well as celebrate its past achievements. I'm Tommy Richmond.

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