In February 2013, American Indian Movement (AIM) leaders reconvened at the Pine Ridge Reservation to commemorate the organization’s 1973 founding, the massacre of 300 Sioux nearby in 1890, and to assess where the movement stands today. In an interview with Dennis Bernstein, one of the organization’s co-founders, Bill Means, recounts the significance of the movement’s foundation and its effects on the modern indigenous rights movement in North America.
AIM organized in direct response to the historic standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, in which several Indian protestors and US federal agents were killed. Bill Means claims that the 1973 events “woke up the world’s populations” to American Indians and their demands for human rights, helping to spur indigenous people’s movements around the world. Nonetheless, American Indians continue to face serious social problems, including poverty and alcohol abuse. AIM continues to fight for treaty rights, land, and social programs that would redress these problems.
As of March 20, 2013, corporate media have not covered AIM’s February 2013 Pine Ridge meeting. The death of AIM leader Russell Means, in October 2012, did receive coverage in The New York Times and was featured in an Atlantic Monthly article. Asked by Bernstein to respond to the claim in the Atlantic Monthly article that AIM members took hostages at Wounded Knee in 1973, Means responded, “We demanded our rights, but there were no hostages… The idea that there were hostages taken and that people were held there against their will is a stereotype image that is often associated with social movements.”
Bernstein, Dennis J. “Recalling the Fight for Indian Rights,” Consortiumnews.com, March 7, 2013, http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/07/recalling-the-fight-for-indian-rights/
Emily Chertoff, “Occupy Wounded Knee: A 71-Day Siege and a Forgotten Civil Rights Movement,” The Atlantic Monthly, October 23, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/occupy-wounded-knee-a-71-day-siege-and-a-forgotten-civil-rights-movement/263998/
“On Wounded Knee: Editorial,” New York Times, October 23, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/opinion/the-siege-of-wounded-knee.html?_r=0
Student Researchers: Heather Van Buren, Miki Abe and Anthony Thompson, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth, College of Marin