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Week 15

Page history last edited by mwitgen@... 4 years, 9 months ago



December 10: American Indian Self-Determination, part 2



In the 1970s, the American Indian Movement (AIM) came to dominate the public image of American Indian activism. AIM was founded in Minneapolis in 1968, and revolved around mostly urban activists like Dennis Banks, George Mitchell, Clyde Bellecourt, and Russell Means. It focused on such issues as housing, poverty, police brutality, and treaty rights. AIM's tactics were centered on direct confrontation. In October 1971 AIM staged a protest in Washington that came to be known as the "Trail of Broken Treaties." In 1972 it gained a lot of attention by seizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC, and in 1973 had a 71-day armed standoff with federal troops on the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Besides the emergence of AIM, another high-profile issue in terms of treaty rights was the 1980s "Walleye War" between the Lac Du Flambeau Ojibwes and non-Indian Wisconsin residents. At the core of this issue was a controversy over the Ojibwes' off-reservation fishing rights that were guaranteed by treaties made with the US in the mid-1800s. Opponents of Ojibwe fishing rights held that the off-reservation spearfishing would hurt the Wisconsin economy, and a drawn-out conflict ensued as the 1980s progressed.





The American Indian Movement



Treaty Rights, Spearfishing, and the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwes 




 From: Rick Whaley and Walter Bressette, Walleye Warriors: An Effective Alliance Against Racism for the Earth (Philadelphia: New Society, 1994).



Study Questions 


  1. What does Clyde Warrior, in his "Testimony," see as the link between tribal sovereignty and the "spiritual and material well-being" of American Indian people? How does sovereignty help American Indian nations according to Warrior?  
  2. "Revolutionary Activities Within the United States" is a report by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the activities of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. What does this report tell you about the American Indian Movement, and what does it tell you about the federal government's reaction to AIM's tactics and public influence?
  3. Read the congressional report with a critical eye: On what grounds does it indict AIM? What are its main critiques? And how (and why) does it link AIM to other national and international "radical" movements?  
  4. What was the 1983 Voight decision, and what was its role in the 1980s "Walleye War"?
  5. Which passages of the 1854 treaty are at the center of the conflicts in Wisconsin, and how do you interpret them?
  6. Judging from the various primary documents, what do you think were the major concerns for non-Indian people? And what do these sources tell you about the nature of the public debate about the conflict?



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