The American Indian Movement

Updated: 6/15/2021
The American Indian Movement

Storyboard Text

  • The U.S government started labeling independent nations as one term, "American Indians", and grouping them as tribes for "administrative convenience".
  • Native Americans gave in to federal programs that promised employment or relief, leaving their needs for revolutionary democracies behind them.
  • 1972 was the year of the Trail of Broken Treaties. Eight Indian organizations represented by AIM, marched from Seattle to Washington, D.C. They hoped to present their demands to the president, which consisted of a 20-point position paper. They ended up leaving with nearly $7,000 after making a 6 day stand at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • World War II led to thousands of Indians being recruited into the armed forces, and thousands more were recruited to move to cities to work in industries. When the war ended, many families stayed in the cities, and some veterans joined them.
  • Indians wanted out of the clutches of the Bureau machine, where all reservations weren't able to exist without "government assistance", but did not want to be assimilated into the mass of the populace and to lose their heritages of nationhood. (This was a main goal of AIM)
  • The official designation of "Tribes" became solidified after a decade of Tribal Councils
  • In 1944, the American Indians formed the "United Nations of Tribes", which sought to actually represent the diversity of Indians (one of the ultimate goals of AIM), while still utilizing the government list of tribes as a means of an organizational basis 
  • Outside of Frank Fools Crow, who was a respected legitimate leader for his Godly wisdom, other AIM organizers who joined were viewed as Ambitious politicians. People doubted AIM could be a religious movement when it chose confrontational tactics. Leonard Crow Dog actually then revived the 1890 Ghost Dance ritual to express AIM's purpose.
  • The term "self-determination" came into play in 1960's when college educated Indian leaders were calling for the right to continue their Indian communities as they themselves determined. By the end of the decade BIA was headed by a Indian and the Civil Rights act was extended to American Indians
  • AIM started out in 1968 as a patrol to prevent police harassment of Indians in Minneapolis. When it started to spread and take in non-traditional Indians as AIM organizers, it grew some skepticism. It was becoming a more modern movement, new to Indians. This is precisely why they decided that it required a sense of spirituality or religion. 
  • They stated that they were "trying to bring about some meaningful change for the Indian community"
  • The Natives' stands at wounded knee and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, was a display of their Oglala religious traditions. Every able-bodied boy in their culture was taught to become a warrior, to get honor by doing something against an enemy which required cunning and bravery.
  • After the unjustified killings of 2 Native Americans, AIM decided to make a stand. Suggested by the District Chiefs, AIM members traveled back to Wounded Knee, to reclaim it and make a stand against corrupt treatment from the authorities.