Posts Tagged ‘American Indian Movement’

Russell Means (Courtesy of Native Sun News)


By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Staff Writer

PORCUPINE – Russell Means may well be facing the toughest adversary in all of his almost 72 years on this earth: cancer.

As announced in a personal video posed on his Russell Means: Freedom website, the political activist, actor, writer, producer, and sometimes musician was recently diagnosed with terminal esophageal, or throat, cancer and has decided against aggressive and standardized medical procedures that could optimally prolong his life – choosing instead to face this “white man’s disease” through the spiritual connectedness held with his Lakota people, both past and present.

The man the Los Angeles Times once described as the “most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse,” is steeling himself for the fight of his life. And Means intends to put up a good fight in the remaining few months his doctors have prognosticated [or predicted] he has left.

In a candid interview via telephone from his ranch near Porcupine, Means – with his voice now affected and made husky by his affliction – spoke proudly of his people and of his most cherished accomplishments in life including the founding of a Lakota immersion school; the co-founding of both a community health clinic and a radio station; his instrumental and continued involvement in the Republic of Lakotah; and his most recent filmmaking endeavors.

Means was not inclined to make mention of his former leadership involvement in the initially militant American Indian Movement, of which he is no longer a widely recognized or accepted member of or substantially affiliated with, having resigned from the organization an unprecedented six times since 1974, according to AIM’s website.
His final resignation came in 1988, amid allegations that he had assaulted his one-time father-in-law. Means is best-known for calling to national – as well as international – attention the plight of indigenous peoples in the United States throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a prominent fixture of AIM.

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Cherokee, Apple partner to put language on iPhones
iPhones that help keep Native languages alive? If the new app created by a Apple/Cherokee Nation collaboration catches on, it’s not such an outrageous statement.
As Indian Country Today reports, the app that was introduced late in 2010 is geared toward “tech-savvy” youth who are using the iPods, iPads and iPhones en masse.

    Tribal officials first contacted Apple about getting Cherokee on the iPhone three years ago. It seemed like a long shot, as the devices support only 50 of the thousands of languages worldwide, and none were American Indian tongues. But Apple’s reputation for innovation gave the tribe hope.

    After many discussions and a visit from Smith, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company surprised the tribe by coming through this fall.

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.  (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)


Native communities struggle with governance, accountability
As the headline suggests, this strong piece from Post Media News’ Richard Foot details how First Nations in Canada often fight for sovereignty amidst headlines of scandals within already established tribal governments.

The article details the how Brian Smith, of the Mi’kmaq reserve in Nova Scotia, fought against the outrageous news that leaders of the 87 person reserve were earning nearly $200,000 salaries.

You’ll get a sense of the frustration from people like Smith as the article goes through arguments about two main points:

    First, ordinary aboriginal people care deeply about the chronic lack of good government on Canada’s First Nations — a shortcoming illustrated this fall not just by the salaries at Glooscap, but at dozens of First Nations across the country.

    Second, the messages showed that many aboriginals don’t want the federal government to step in to fix such problems, whatever the outcry for intervention from non-native taxpayers. And they aren’t eager for passage of a Conservative private members’ bill, now before Parliament, that would require First Nation politicians to publicly disclose their salaries on a government website.

FSU’s Seminole imagery still frustrates Russell Means

    “It would be in the best interest of Florida State to become human. We’re not asking them to become politically correct. Keep the Seminole nickname, but get rid of the savagery.”
    Russell Means

Although the Chik-Fil-A bowl has come and gone, the match up was preempted by The State columnist Ron Morris’ piece after his interview with Russel Means, former American Indian Movement leader who now teaches language on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Morris makes a strong argument leading up to his final paragraphs:

    Yet in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young fought for civil rights in the 1960s, there will be Florida State fans with painted faces doing the “Tomahawk Chop” and singing “war chants” hours before the calendar flips to 2011.

    There exists some irony in that. It is disgusting enough to make Russell Means turn off his television set in South Dakota.

See if you agree.

Jenna Cederberg

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An undated file photo provided by her family shows American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Aquash's murder which occurred 35 years ago next month, quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between AIM and federal authorities in the 1970s. John Graham, heads to trial on first-degree murder charges in Aquash's Wednesday in South Dakota. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)

An undated file photo provided by her family shows American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Aquash's murder which occurred 35 years ago next month, quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between AIM and federal authorities in the 1970s. John Graham, heads to trial on first-degree murder charges in Aquash's Wednesday in South Dakota. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)


Final Associated Press write through: By NOMAAN MERCHANT

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A South Dakota jury returned a murder conviction Friday in the decades-old killing of an American Indian Movement activist whose death came to symbolize AIM and its often violent struggles with federal agents during the 1970s.

John Graham, a 55-year-old former member of the group, was convicted of felony murder during the kidnapping of Annie Mae Aquash. The jury acquitted him of premeditated murder.

Lead prosecutor Marty Jackley, the state’s attorney general, said the murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Jackley said he wasn’t sure whether parole was an option.

Prosecutors alleged Graham, a Southern Tutchone Indian from Canada, and two other AIM activists killed Aquash because they thought she was a government informant. The 35-year investigation `”has finally come to find justice,” Jackley said afterward.

As South Dakota Judge John Delaney read the verdicts, Graham gazed straight ahead without moving. His daughter, Naneek Graham, began to weep as jurors stood one by one to affirm the verdicts.

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An undated file photo provided by her family shows American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Aquash's murder which occurred 35 years ago next month, quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between AIM and federal authorities in the 1970s. John Graham, heads to trial on first-degree murder charges in Aquash's Wednesday in South Dakota. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)

An undated file photo provided by her family shows American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Aquash's murder which occurred 35 years ago next month, quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between AIM and federal authorities in the 1970s. John Graham, heads to trial on first-degree murder charges in Aquash's Wednesday in South Dakota. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)

The trial for the murder of a young woman 35 years ago on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation finally opened in Rapid City on Wednesday.

Accused is John Graham, a Southern Tutchone Indian from Canada, for the shooting of American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash 35 years ago, the Belleville News Democrat reports.

The prosecution holds that Graham, also a AIM member, and several alleged accomplishes suspected Aquash of being a government spy.

Where and how the Graham would be prosecuted has held up the trial.

    Aquash’s death became synonymous with AIM and its often violent struggles with federal agents in the 1970s, and family members and observers have said Graham’s trial could help to answer lingering questions about why Aquash died and who ordered her killing.

    During his narrative about what the state believes happened, Jackley told jurors that Graham and two other AIM activists, Arlo Looking Cloud and Theda Clark, were told in late 1975 to take Aquash from Denver to Rapid City, to the apartment of Thelma Rios.

    Looking Cloud was found guilty of his involvement in the murder in 2004 and will likely testify at Graham’s trial. Rios pleaded guilty last month in connection with Aquash’s kidnapping and may also testify.

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Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo


The story of Dennis Banks and the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) movement he co-founded in 1968 is making waves again, this time in the form of a film executively produced by a tribal nation.

“A Good Day to Die,” by filmmakers David Mueller and Lynn Salt (Choctaw), won best documentary at its world premiere at the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City and the best documentary prize at the DreamSpeakers film festival. It is the first film of its kind to be executive produced by a tribal nation, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation of California

Now, the film has qualified for the Academy Award consideration.

Filmmaker Salt is hoping to keep the good reviews coming and make a run at an Oscar.

“We are trying to build a grass roots movement to help our film win the Oscar in the best feature length documentary category and would be grateful for any help you could give us getting word out to all Native communities about this important film about rarely told contemporary American Indian history,” she wrote to me in an e-mail.

Just a few seconds into “Good Day” trailer and you’ll see why it’s garnered such praise.

Salt also sent a list of upcoming film festivals you can view the film:
*Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (Hot Springs, AR – Oct. 16) *imagineNATIVE Film Festival (Toronto, CANADA – Oct. 24) *American Indian Film Festival (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 11) * Press op *Starz Denver Film Festival (Denver, CO – Nov. 12 & 13) * Press o• *LA Skins Fest (Los Angeles, CA – Nov. 19) Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival (Winnipeg, CANADA – Nov. 26)

Here’s hoping it’s coming to MT in the near future.

Jenna Cederberg

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nativesun
Each Saturday, Buffalo Post runs a selection of stories from Native Sun News.

Photo and story by Evelyn Broecher
Native Sun News Correspondent

PART 1

RAPID CITY – Thelma Conroy-Rios, an American Indian activist, has been accused as an accessory in the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash. She blames her situation on an “irresponsible media addicted to sensationalism.” She said, “To me, these people abuse me when they print lies.”

But, who is Thelma Rios and, how did this Allen country girl get from the reservation to infamous AIM extremist on trial for accessory to murder?

have to have my picture taken this way, because my grandmother is always sitting on my shoulder and always with me,” Rios said as she looked at her family photos. (Native Sun News photo)

have to have my picture taken this way, because my grandmother is always sitting on my shoulder and always with me,” Rios said as she looked at her family photos. (Native Sun News photo)

Rios appears to be as confused as anyone about the charges against her. “Everyone knew my house was safe and clean. Alcohol was never allowed in my home. My home was open to all people in need, including people of all races, religions, and ages.” She said she opened her home to the homeless, and domestic violence victims, kids off the street, and elders in need.

“I have lived this way for 40 years, Rios said. “I was even a licensed foster parent. The Department of Social Services would bring me Indian children no one could handle. Even the police department would bring people who needed help to my home.”

“That’s why I don’t understand how anyone could even think I could stand by and watch any woman be kidnapped, abused, or tied-up,” Rios said, referring to prior testimony of events leading to the murder of Aquash.

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A Native American canoe  flotilla leaves Belle Isle, Mich., to head to Windsor Canada and back in celebration of heritage and the demonstration of treaty rights. According to Dennis Banks, Co-founder and Leader of The American Indian movement, the shores of the Detroit River are one and the same for Native Americans. According to the 1796 treaty they are guaranteed free passage. Banks also complained about the harassment and intimidation that Native Americans face when they try to cross the border. (AP Photo/Marcin Szczepanski - Detroit Free Press)

A Native American canoe flotilla leaves Belle Isle, Mich., to head to Windsor Canada and back in celebration of heritage and the demonstration of treaty rights. According to Dennis Banks, Co-founder and Leader of The American Indian movement, the shores of the Detroit River are one and the same for Native Americans. According to the 1796 treaty they are guaranteed free passage. Banks also complained about the harassment and intimidation that Native Americans face when they try to cross the border. (AP Photo/Marcin Szczepanski - Detroit Free Press)

It wasn’t the 500 canoes organizers had hoped for, but the Native American and First Nations people from Canada and the United States who showed up yesterday to cross the Detroit River by canoe made their point.

About a half-dozen canoes and some kayaks made the trip between the United States and Canada to emphasize that tribal members are sovereign people and have a right to cross the border on their own terms.

As the Detroit Free Press reported:

    Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, said such crossings are guaranteed by the Jay Treaty of 1796.

    “I come here to support an idea that this territory that we are standing on and the territory across the river are one and the same,” said Banks, a longtime activist. “I have sons and daughters on this shore and that shore.” …
    He said activists have tried for 20 years to persuade U.S. and Canadian authorities to allow them to use a sticker for easy passage between the two countries. Banks, who carries an identification card of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, said “our brothers and sisters” are often harassed by border officials and have to carry pounds of documents. He said carrying a U.S. or Canadian passport “assaults our sovereign status.”

Gwen Florio

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Dudesons image from la.indymedia.org

Dudesons image from la.indymedia.org


The American Indian Movement’s Michael Fairbanks has this follow-up, in Indian Country Today, to his protest of a an episode of MTV’s reality show, “The Dudesons in America.”

The episode is called “Cowboys and Findians,” as Fairbanks says, its “redface” theme is as offensive to Native people as blackface is to African-Americans.

    The “Cowboys and Findians” episode perpetuates very offensive stereotypes regarding Native American spirituality, ceremonies, culture and customs. On the MTV Web site, the episode describes these four young Finnish characters “Pursuing their goals of becoming honorary members of the tribe.”

    Which tribe? The Tongva people of the Los Angeles region? Considering the damage done by non-Native people “pursuing their goals” of cultural and spiritual misappropriation, this is alarming. The commercialization of cultural and Native spirituality has been going strong now for a few decades, but it seems to have hit its pinnacle recently with people paying as much as $9,000 to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony.

    The MTV statement above leaves the impression that it is okay to do so – that not only is it acceptable, but it is fun and entertaining to do so.

Fairbanks, who is head of AIM in Santa Barbara, Calif., likens the episode to broadcast personality Don Imus’ infamous description of female black athletes as “nappy-headed ho’s.”

And, he says, ” It is long overdue for that practice to stop.”

Seems like somebody was paying attention. MTV pulled the episode from its website after complaints from the Santa Barbara AIM chapter, according to Huffington Post.

Click here to view a photos of a protest of “Cowboys and Findians.”

Gwen Florio

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Writer Stew Magnuson (“The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns”) today memorializes Billy Gibbons, who died last month at the age of 75.

In his blog, A View from a Washichu, Magnuson writes here that:

BillyGibbons

    Gibbons was the son of a Lakota woman, Elsie Long Cat, and a white father, William Gibbons. Billy was raised in Wounded Knee, but had made Gordon, Nebr., his home since the 1950s.

    He was a man who had both feet firmly, and proudly, planted in both cultures. And maybe it’s no accident that he made a Nebraska border town his home.

    Gibbons came to Gordon and began a drywall business after serving in the Korean War. That how he made a living. More important was how he lived.

Magnuson describes how, among other things, Gibbons helped him defuse a potential confrontation after an American Indian Movement protest in 1972.

It’s a lovely tribute. Check it out.

Gwen Florio

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Tatanka Means’ inviting looks captured in the 21st Century Skins Native American Men’s Calendar might be the best Christmas gift under the tree. Means will make an appearance on the ABC show "Scoundrels." (Photos courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography)

Oglala Lakota actor Tatanka Means to star in ‘Scoundrels’ episode

Rapid City native Tatanka Means (photo above, courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography) will guest star in the second episode of the new ABC show “Scoundrels,” set to air tonight. Means, an Oglala Lakota tribal member, is the son American Indian Movement activist and actor Russell Means. The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal has the story here.

Seneca Nation – ‘We Are Not a Piggy Bank’

The Seneca Nation isn’t alone in protesting New York’s law, passed last week, that will tax cigarette purchases by non-Natives in Native-owned smoke shops. The Jamestown Post-Journal chronicles the opposition here. Tribal leader J.C. Senca says that “We are not a piggy bank the state can break open to grab extra cash.” Some New York assemblymen also object, saying the new law will drive business from their area.

Navajo Nation awaits decision on whether president can seek third term

Ballots won’t be printed for Navajo Nation elections until there’s a decision as to whether President Joe Shirley Jr. can seek a third term, the Navajo Times reports here. The Navajo Board of Election Commissioners had ruled Shirley’s run invalid, but Shirley has appealed.

Left-wing South American leaders back indigenous rights

The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia have signed a declaration to promote indigenous rights. But even as the leaders met, Ecuador’s main indigenous organization protested, saying it had not been consulted, according to the BBC, here. The group, Conaie – the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador – represents about 40 percent of Ecuador’s population.

Australian indigenous group wants stripper deported

Desecration of sites sacred to indigenous people appears to be a problem the world over. According to ABC News, here, a powerful indigenous group in Australia is seeking the deportation of a French woman who was filmed stripping down to a bikini atop the sacred rock of Uluru. The woman described her actions as a “tribute” to aboriginal culture.

Gwen Florio

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