Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
SAN FRANCISCO - Attendees of the AIM West Conference which began Monday at the Baha'i Center heard stories about the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee from Clyde Bellecourt, one of co-founders of the American Indian Movement. Bellecourt, along with Dennis Banks and Russell Means, were the leaders of the 71 day siege to fight tribal corruption and federal mistreatment of American Indians on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Co-Founder Clyde Bellecourt
Bellecourt co-founded the American Indian Movement with Dennis Banks and George Mitchell in 1968 to counter police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Bellecourt discussed how the he and others were brought trial after the siege was over and were acquitted.
While Bellecourt provided an account of the past, attendees of the conference were encouraged to discuss the future.
Chief Terrance Nelson
“Where do we go from here?”
Asked Chief Terrance Nelson, Roseau Reserve in Manitoba, who is also in attendance at the conference. "We, as indigenous people have to move in a clear direction. We have natural resources and we must work with government to make sure indigenous people get their fair share. We sit on some of the best natural resources in our countries (referring to Canada and the United States)."
Chief Nelson discussed the environmental issues with the oil pipelines that threaten Native land. "People don’t realize how oil moves through the Enbridge Pipeline down from Canada every day. Over million barrels move every day. In comparison, Saudi Arabia moves 1.1 million barrels of oil each day."
"But, our issues are not only about the environment. They are also economic," continued Chief Nelson. "AIM cannot simply rely on our bodies to protest. We have to learn how get our fair share sitting down and working with government."
photo credits Christina Akaquiqui/de la luna photography
posted November 22, 2011 10:50 am est
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