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American Indian Movement
Abbreviation AIM
Leader Dennis Banks
Clyde Bellecourt
Vernon Bellecourt
Russell Means
Founded July 1968; 56 years ago (July 1968)
Ideology Indigenism
Native American civil rights
Colors      Black      Gold      White      Maroon

The American Indian Movement (AIM) is an American Indian grassroots movement which was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 1968, initially centered in urban areas in order to address systemic issues of poverty, discrimination, and police brutality against American Indians. AIM soon widened its focus from urban issues to many Indigenous Tribal issues that American Indian groups have faced due to settler colonialism in the Americas. These issues have included treaty rights, high rates of unemployment, the lack of American Indian subjects in education, and the preservation of Indigenous cultures.

AIM was organized by American Indian men who had been serving time together in prison. They had been alienated from their traditional backgrounds as a result of the United States' Public Law 959 Indian Relocation Act of 1956, which supported thousands of American Indians who wanted to move from reservations to cities, in an attempt to enable them to have more economic opportunities for work. In addition, Public Law 280, one of the first major laws contributing to U.S. Indian termination policy, proposed to terminate the federal government's relations with several tribes which were determined to be far along the path of assimilation. These policies were enacted by the United States Congress under congressional plenary power. As a result, nearly 70% of American Indians left their communal homelands on reservations and relocated to urban centers, many in hopes of finding economic sustainability. While many Urban Indians struggled with displacement and such radically different settings, some also began to organize in pan-Indian groups in urban centers. They were described as transnationals. The American Indian Movement formed in such urbanized contexts at a time of increasing Indian activism.

From November 1969 to June 1971, AIM participated in the occupation of the abandoned federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island organized by seven Indian movements, including the Indians of All Tribes and Richard Oakes, a Mohawk activist.[4] In October 1972, AIM and other Indian groups gathered members from across the United States for a protest in Washington, D.C., known as the Trail of Broken Treaties. Public documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reveal advanced coordination occurred between federal Bureau of Indian Affairs staff and the authors of a twenty-point proposal. The proposal was drafted with the help of the AIM for delivery to the United States government officials. Its focused on proposals intended to enhance US–Indian relations.

In the decades since AIM's founding, the group has led protests advocating indigenous American interests, inspired cultural renewal, monitored police activities, and coordinated employment programs in cities and in rural reservation communities across the United States. They have also allied with indigenous interests outside the United States.

Initial movement

AIM, like civil rights and antiwar activists, used the American press and media to convey its message to the United States public, creating events to capture the attention of the press. If successful, news outlets would seek out AIM spokespersons for interviews. Rather than relying on traditional lobbying efforts, AIM took its message directly to the American public. Its leaders looked for opportunities to gain publicity. Sound bites such as the "AIM Song" became associated with the movement.


During ceremonies on Thanksgiving Day 1970 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock, an AIM group seized the replica of the Mayflower in Boston. In 1971, members occupied Mount Rushmore for a few days. This huge sculpture was created on a mountain long considered sacred by the Lakota, and the associated land in the Black Hills of South Dakota was taken by the federal government after gold was discovered there. This area was originally within the Great Sioux Reservation as created by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which covered most of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River. After the discovery of gold in 1874, the federal government broke up the large reservation and sold off much of the Black Hills to European Americans for mining and settlement. It reassigned several Lakota tribes to five smaller reservations in this area.

Native American activists in Milwaukee staged a takeover of an abandoned Coast Guard station along Lake Michigan. The takeover was inspired by the 1969 Alcatraz occupation. Activists cited the Treaty of Fort Laramie and demanded the abandoned federal property revert to the control of the Native peoples of Milwaukee. AIM protestors retained possession of the land, and the land became the site of the first Indian Community School, which operated until 1980.

Also in 1971, AIM began to highlight and protest problems with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which administered programs and land trusts for Native Americans. In 1972, activists marched across the country on the "Trail of Broken Treaties" and took over the Department of Interior headquarters, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), occupying it for several days and allegedly doing millions of dollars in damage.

AIM developed the Twenty Points, to summarize its issues with federal treaties and promises, which they publicized during their occupation in 1972. The list was largely written by the Native American activist and strategist Hank Adams. Twelve points addressed treaty responsibilities which the protesters believed the U.S. government had failed to fulfill:

  • Restore treaty-making (ended by Congress in 1871).
  • Establish a treaty commission to make new treaties (with sovereign Native Nations).
  • Provide opportunities for Indian leaders to address Congress directly.
  • Review treaty commitments and violations.
  • Have unratified treaties reviewed by the Senate.
  • Ensure that all American Indians are governed by treaty relations.
  • Provide relief to Native Nations as compensation for treaty rights violations.
  • Recognize the right of Indians to interpret treaties.
  • Create a Joint Congressional Committee to reconstruct relations with Indians.
  • Restore 110 million acres (450,000 km2) of land taken away from Native Nations by the United States.
  • Restore terminated rights of Native Nations.
  • Repeal state jurisdiction on Native Nations (Public Law 280).
  • Provide Federal protection for offenses against Indians.
  • Abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Create a new office of Federal Indian Relations.
  • Remedy breakdown in the constitutionally prescribed relationships between the United States and Native Nations.
  • Ensure immunity of Native Nations from state commerce regulation, taxes, and trade restrictions.
  • Protect Indian religious freedom and cultural integrity.
  • Establish national Indian voting with local options; free national Indian organizations from governmental controls.
  • Reclaim and affirm health, housing, employment, economic development, and education for all Indian people.

In 1973, AIM was invited to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to help gain justice from border counties' law enforcement and to moderate political factions on the reservation. They became deeply involved and led an armed occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1973. Other events in the 1970s were designed to gain public attention, ensuring that AIM would be noticed and highlighting what they saw as the erosion of Indian rights and sovereignty.

On June 10, 2020, AIM Twin Cities (a splinter group from the original AIM) members tore down the Christopher Columbus statue located outside the Minnesota State Capitol. Once a widely celebrated explorer credited with discovering America, Columbus later became recognized for the atrocities he and his followers committed against natives during their American voyages. Self-declared AIM member Mike Forcia admitted to speaking with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan before the event took place. The Grand Governing Council dismissed Forcia's actions as they affected their stance on peaceful grassroots initiatives and clarified his role in the splinter group.

The Longest Walk (1978)

Longest Walk at Washington, 1978
An American Indian Movement tipi on the grounds of the Washington Monument in 1978

The Longest Walk (1978) was an AIM-led spiritual walk across the country to support tribal sovereignty and bring attention to a series of proposed federal bills that AIM asserted would abrogate Indian Treaties, threaten land and water rights and cut off social services. The purpose of this 3,200-mile (5,100 km) walk was to educate people about the government's continuing threat to tribal sovereignty; it rallied thousands representing many Indian nations throughout the United States and Canada. Traditional spiritual leaders from many tribes participated, leading traditional ceremonies. Non-Indian supporters included the American boxer Muhammad Ali, US Senator Ted Kennedy, and the actor Marlon Brando. International spiritual leaders like Nichidatsu Fujii also took part in the Walk.

The first walk began on February 11, 1978, with a ceremony on Alcatraz Island, where a sacred pipe was loaded with tobacco. The pipe was carried the entire distance. On July 15, 1978, The Longest Walk entered Washington, D.C., with several thousand Indians and a number of non-Indian supporters. The traditional elders led them to the Washington Monument, where the pipe that had been carried across the country was smoked. Over the next week, they held rallies at various locations to address issues, including the series of proposed federal bills, American Indian political prisoners, forced relocation at Big Mountain, and the Navajo Nation.

President Jimmy Carter refused to meet with representatives of The Longest Walk. However, Congress withdrew the proposed series of bills opposed by the activists. Instead, they passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which protected the rights of Native Americans to exercise their traditional religions and to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites. To a lesser extent, this also allowed the use of peyote in worship for the Native American Church (NAC).

The Longest Walk 2 (2008)

Thirty years later, AIM led the Longest Walk 2, which covered 8,200 miles (13,200 km) starting from the San Francisco Bay area and arriving in Washington, D.C. in July 2008. The Longest Walk 2 had representatives from more than 100 American Indian nations, and other indigenous participants, such as Maori. It also had non-indigenous supporters. The walk highlighted the need for protection of American Indian sacred sites, tribal sovereignty, environmental protection, and action to stop global warming. Participants traveled on either the Northern Route (basically that of 1978) or the Southern Route. Participants crossed a total of 26 states on the two different routes.

Northern Route

The Northern Route was led by veterans of that action. The walkers used sacred staffs to represent their issues; the group supported the protection of sacred sites of indigenous peoples, traditional tribal sovereignty, issues related to native prisoners, and the protection of children. They also commemorated the 30th anniversary of the original Longest Walk.

Southern Route

Walkers along the Southern Route picked up more than 8,000 bags of garbage on their way to Washington. In Washington, the Southern Route delivered a 30-page manifesto, "The Manifesto of Change", and a list of demands, including mitigation for climate change, a call for environmental sustainability plans, protection of sacred sites, and renewal of improvement to Native American sovereignty and health.

Relationship with other civil rights movements

AIM's leaders drew inspiration from the African American leaders of the Civil Rights Movement as they spoke out against injustices towards their people. They addressed issues such as high unemployment, slum housing, and racist treatment. They also fought for treaty rights and the reclamation of tribal land and advocated on behalf of urban Indians.


AIM protests

AIM opposes national and collegiate sports teams using figures of indigenous people as mascots and team names, such as the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins and has organized protests at World Series and Super Bowl games against these teams. Protesters held signs with slogans such as "Indians are people not mascots". or "Being Indian is not a character you can play". Subsequently, Cleveland and Washington have changed their team names.

Although sports teams had ignored such requests by individual tribes for years, AIM received attention in the mascot debate. NCAA schools such as Florida State University, University of Utah, University of Illinois and Central Michigan University have negotiated with the tribes whose names or images they had used for permission for continued use and to collaborate on portraying the mascot in a way that is intended to honor Native Americans.

Goals and commitments

AIM has been committed to improving conditions faced by native peoples. It founded institutions to address needs, including the Heart of The Earth School, Little Earth Housing, International Indian Treaty Council, AIM StreetMedics, American Indian Opportunities and Industrialization Center (one of the largest Indian job training programs), KILI radio and Indian Legal Rights Centers.

In 1971, several members of AIM, including Dennis Banks and Russell Means, traveled to Mount Rushmore. They converged at the mountain in order to protest the illegal seizure of the Sioux Nation's sacred Black Hills in 1877 by the United States federal government, in violation of its earlier 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. The protest began to publicize the issues of the American Indian Movement. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had illegally taken the Black Hills. The government offered financial compensation, but the Oglala Sioux have refused it, insisting on return of the land to their people. The settlement money is earning interest.

AIM timeline

  • 1968 – Minneapolis AIM Patrol created to monitor police treatment of urban American Indians and their treatment in the justice system.
  • 1969 – Indian Health Board of Minneapolis founded. This was the first American Indian, urban-based health care provider in the nation. The San Francisco-based United Indians of All Tribes and the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement occupied Alcatraz Island, a former federal prison site, for 19 months. They reclaimed federal land in the name of Native Nations. The first American Indian radio broadcasts – Radio Free Alcatraz – were heard in the Bay Area. Some AIM activists joined them.
  • 1970 – Legal Rights Center created in Minneapolis to assist American Indians (as of 1994, over 19,000 clients have had legal representation thanks to AIM's work). AIM takeover of abandoned property at the naval air station near Minneapolis focuses attention on Indian education and leads to early grants for Indian education.
  • 1972 – Red School House, the second survival school to open, offering culturally based education services to K-12 students in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hearth of the Earth Survival School (HOTESS), a K-12 school established to address the extremely high drop-out rate among American Indian students and lack of curricula that reflected American Indian culture. HOTESS serves as the first model of community-based, student-centered education with culturally correct curriculum operating under parental control. Trail of Broken Treaties, a pan-Indian march across country to Washington, D.C., to dramatize failures in federal policy. Protesters occupied the BIA national headquarters and did millions of dollars in damages, as well as irrevocable losses of Indian land deeds. The protesters presented a 20-point demand paper to the administration, many associated with treaty rights and renewed negotiations of treaties.
  • 1973 – Legal action for school funds as in reaction to the Trail of Broken Treaties the government canceled education grants to three AIM-sponsored schools in St. Paul and Milwaukee. AIM files legal challenges, and the District Court orders the grants restored and government payment of costs and attorney fees. Wounded Knee: AIM was contacted by Oglala Lakota elders of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for assistance in dealing with failures in justice in border towns, the authoritarian tribal president and financial corruption within the BIA and executive committee. Together with Oglala Lakota, armed activists occupied the town of Wounded Knee for 71-days against United States armed forces.
  • 1973 – On February 27, 1973, a large public meeting of 600 Indians at Calico Hall organized by Pedro Bissonette of Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) and addressed by AIM leaders Banks and Russell Means. Demands were made for investigations into vigilante incidents and for hearings on their treaties and permission given by the tribal elders to make a stand at Wounded Knee.
  • 1974 – International Indian Treaty Council, an organization representing Indian peoples throughout the western hemisphere was recognized at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Wounded Knee trials: eight months of federal trials of participants in Wounded Knee took place in Minneapolis. It was the longest Federal trial in the history of the United States. As many instances of government misconduct were revealed, the District judge Fred Nichol dismissed all charges due to government "misconduct" which "formed a pattern throughout the course of the trial" so that "the waters of justice have been polluted". Loralei DeCora Means, Madonna Thunderhawk, Phyllis Young, and Janet McCloud founded WARN or Women of all Red Nations, a women's movement within the AIM movement.
  • 1975 – Federation of Survival Schools created to provide advocacy and networking skills to 16 survival schools throughout the United States and Canada. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) chose AIM to be the primary sponsor of the first American Indian-run housing project, Little Earth of United Tribes.
  • 1977 – MIGIZI Communications founded in Minneapolis. The organization is dedicated to producing Indian news and information and educating students of all ages as tomorrow's technical work force. International Indian Treaty Council establishes non-government organization status at United Nations offices in Geneva; attends the International NGO conference and presents testimony to the United Nations. American Indian Language and Culture Legislation: AIM proposes legislative language which is passed in Minnesota, recognizing state responsibility for Indian education and culture. This legislation was recognized as a model throughout the country.
  • 1978 – The first education programs for American Indian offenders: AIM establishes the first adult education program for American Indian offenders at Stillwater Prison in Minnesota. Programs later established at other state correctional facilities modeled after the Minnesota program. Circle of Life Survival School established on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. The school receives funding for three years of operation from the Department of Education. Run for Survival: AIM youth organize and conduct 500-mile (800 km) run from Minneapolis to Lawrence, Kansas, to support The Longest Walk. The Longest Walk: Indian Nations walk across the United States from California to Washington, D.C., to protest proposed legislation calling for the abrogation of treaties with Indian nations. They set up and maintain a tipi near the White House. The proposed legislation is defeated. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is passed in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. This piece of legislation made it so Native American children would remain connected to their families and tribes in the case of removal from their primary residence.
  • 1979 – Little Earth housing protected: an attempt by the HUD to foreclose on the Little Earth of United Tribes housing project is halted by legal action and the District Court issues an injunction against the HUD. The American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center (AIOIC) creates job-training schools to alleviate the unemployment issues of Indian people. More than 17,000 Native Americans have been trained for jobs since AIM created the AIOIC in 1979. Anishinabe Akeeng Organization is created to regain stolen and tax-forfeited land on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.
  • 1984 – Federation of Native Controlled Survival Schools presents legal education seminars at colleges and law schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma for educators of Indian students. National conference held in San Jose, California, concurrent with the National Indian Education Association Convention.
  • 1986 – Schools lawsuit: Heart of the Earth and Red School House successfully sue the Department of Education Indian Education Programs for ranking the schools' programs below funding recommendation levels. The suit proved discriminatory bias in the system of ranking by the Department staff.
  • 1988 – Elaine Stately Indian Youth Services (ESIYS) developed to create alternatives for youth in Minneapolis as a direct diversion to gang-involvement of Indian youth. Fort Snelling AIM annual Pow Wow: AIM establishes an annual pow-wow to recognize its 20th anniversary at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. The event becomes the largest Labor Day weekend event in any Minnesota state park.
  • 1991 – Peacemaker Center: AIM houses its AIM Patrol and ESIYS in a center in the heart of the Indian community, based on Indian spirituality. Sundance returned to Minnesota: with the support of the Dakota communities, AIM revives the Sundance at Pipestone, Minnesota. Ojibwe nations have helped make the Minnesota Sundance possible. The Pipestone Sundance becomes an annual event. In 1991, some self-appointed leaders of the Oglala Lakota, Cheyenne and other nations declare independence from the United States. The group establishes a provisional government to develop a separate national government. Elected leaders and council members of the nations do not support this action. National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media: AIM organizes this group to address the issue of using Indian figures and names as sports team mascots. AIM leads a walk in Minneapolis to the 1992 Super Bowl. In 1994, the Minneapolis Star Tribune agrees to stop using professional sports team names that refer to Indian people unless these have been approved by the tribes.
  • 1992 – The Food Connection organizes summer youth jobs program with an organic garden and spiritual camp (Common Ground) at Tonkawood Farm in Orono, Minnesota.
  • 1993 – Expansion of American Indian OIC Job Training Program: the Grand Metropolitan, Inc. of Great Britain, a parent of the Pillsbury Corporation, merges its job training program with that of AIOIC and pledges future monies and support in Minnesota. Little Earth: after AIM's 18-year struggle, the HUD secretary Henry Cisneros rules that Little Earth of United Tribes housing project shall retain the right to preference for American Indian residents when considering applicants for the project. Wounded Knee anniversary: at the 20th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Incident at Pine Ridge Reservation, the elected Oglala Sioux Tribe president John Yellow Bird Steele thanked AIM for its 1973 actions.

Due to continuing dissension, AIM splits. AIM Grand Governing Council (AIMGGC) is based in Minneapolis and still led by founders while AIM-International Confederation of Autonomous Chapters is based in Denver, Colorado.

  • 1996 – April 3–8, 1996: as a representative of the AIM Grand Governing Council and special representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, Vernon Bellecourt, along with William A. Means, president of IITC, attends the preparatory meeting for the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-Liberalism (IEHN), hosted by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), held in LaRealidad, Eastern Chiapas, Mexico between July 27 and August 3, 1996. The second meeting for the IEHN in 1997 is hosted by the EZLN and attended by delegates of the IITC and AIM.
  • 1998 – February 12, 1998: AIM is charged with Security at the Ward Valley Occupation in Southern California. The occupation lasts for 113 days and results in a victory for the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) against the plan to use the area for the disposal of nuclear wastes. February 27, 1998: on the 25th anniversary of Wounded Knee, an Oglala Lakota Nation resolution establishes February 27 as a National Day of Liberation. July 16–19, 1998: the 25th annual Lac Courte Oreilles Honor the Earth Homecoming Celebration to honor the people who participated in the July 31, 1971, takeover of the Winter Dam and the beginning of the Honor the Earth observance. August 2–11, 1998: 30th Anniversary of the AIM Grand Governing Council and Sacred Pipestone Quarries in Pipestone, Minnesota. Conference commemorating AIM's 30th anniversary.
  • 2000 – July 2000: AIM 32nd anniversary Conference on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Nation Reservation in northern Wisconsin. October 2000 – AIM founded commission to seek justice for Ingrid Washinawatok and companions.
  • 2001 – March 2001: Reps of the AIM GGC attend the EZLN March for Peace, Justice and Dignity, Zocolo Plaza in Mexico City. July 2001 – 11th annual Youth & Elders International Cultural Gathering and Sundance in Pipestone, Minnesota. November 2001 – The American Indian Forum on Racism in Sports and Media is held at Black Bear Crossing in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • 2002 – August 2002: 12th annual International Youth & Elders Cultural Gathering and Sundance in Pipestone, Minnesota.
  • 2003 – May 2003: Quarterly Meeting of the AIM National Board of Directors Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. August 2003 – 13th Annual International Youth & Elders Cultural Gathering and Sundance, Pipestone, Minnesota.
  • 2004 – August 2004: 14th annual International Youth & Elders Cultural Gathering and Sundance in Pipestone, Minnesota.
  • 2005 – May 2005: 1st annual Clyde H. Bellecourt Endowment Scholarship Fund and Awards Banquet in Minneapolis. July 2005 – 15th annual International Youth & Elders Cultural Gathering and Sundance, Pipestone, Minnesota.
  • 2006 – May 2006: 2nd annual Clyde H. Bellecourt Endowment Scholarship Fund and Awards Banquet in Minneapolis. July 2006 – 16th annual International Youth & Elders Cultural Gathering and Sundance, Pipestone, Minnesota.
Christopher Columbus Statue Torn Down at Minnesota State Capitol on June 10, 2020
Members of AIM tore down the statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol in June 2020 during the George Floyd protests

Other Native American organizations

The American Indian Movement founded several organizations since its establishment in 1968. Its focus on cultural renewal and employment has led to the creation of housing programs, the American Indian Opportunities and Industrialization Center (for job training), and AIM Street Medics, as well as a legal-aid center. The American Opportunities and Industrialization Center, founded in 1979 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has built a workforce of over 20,000 people from the entire Twin City area and tribal nations across the country and is a nationally recognized leader in the workforce development field. Following the AIM's all-inclusive practice, AIOC resources are available to all regardless of race, creed, age, gender, or sexual orientation. The Tokama Institute, a division of the AIOIC, is focused on helping American Indians acquire the foundational skills and knowledge in order to obtain a successful career. Aside from post-secondary institutions, AIM has helped develop and establish its own K-12 schools including Heart of the Earth Survival School and the Little Red Schoolhouse both located in Minneapolis. Further, AIM has led to the establishment of Women of All Red Nations (WARN). Established in 1974, WARN has put women at the forefront of the organization and focused its energies in combating sexism and other injustices. Other Native American organizations include NATIVE (Native American Traditions, Ideals, Values Educational Society), LISN (League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations), EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), and the IPC (Indigenous Peoples Caucus). Although each group may have its own specific goals or focus, they are all fighting for the same principles of respect and equality for Native Americans. The Northwest Territories Indian Brotherhood, the Committee of Original People's Entitlement were two organization that spearheaded the native rights movement in northern Canada during the 1960s.

International Indian Treaty Council

AIM established the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) in June 1974. It invited representatives from numerous indigenous nations, and delegates from 98 international groups attended the meeting. The sacred pipe serves as a symbol of the Nations "common bonds of spirituality, ties to the land and respect for traditional cultures". The IITC focuses on issues such as treaty and land rights, rights and protection of indigenous children, protection of sacred sites, and religious freedom.

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) uses networking, technical assistance, and coalition building. In 1977, the IITC became a Non-Governmental Organization with Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The organization concentrates on involving Indigenous Peoples in U.N. forums. In addition, the IITC strives to bring awareness about the issues concerning Indigenous Peoples to non-Indigenous organizations.

United Nations adoption of indigenous peoples' rights

On September 13, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". A total of 144 states or countries voted in favor. Four voted against it while 11 abstained. The four voting against it were the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, whose representatives said they believed the declaration "goes too far".

The Declaration announces rights of indigenous peoples, such as rights to self-determination, traditional lands and territories, traditional languages and customs, natural resources and sacred sites.

Ideological differences within AIM

In 1993, AIM split into two factions, each claiming to be the authentic inheritor of the AIM tradition. The AIM-Grand Governing Council is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was associated with the leadership of Clyde Bellecourt (who died in 2022) and his brother Vernon Bellecourt (who died in 2007). The GGC tends toward a more centralized, controlled political philosophy.

The AIM-International Confederation of Autonomous Chapters, based in Denver, Colorado, was founded by thirteen AIM chapters in 1993 at a meeting in Denver, Colorado. The group issued its Edgewood Declaration, citing organizational grievances and complaining of authoritarian leadership by the Bellecourts. Ideological differences were growing, with the AIM-International Confederation of Autonomous Chapters taking a spiritual, perhaps more mainstream, approach to activism. The autonomous chapters group argues that AIM has always been organized as a series of decentralized, autonomous chapters, with local leadership accountable to local constituencies. The autonomous chapters reject the assertions of central control by the Minneapolis group as contrary both to indigenous political traditions and to the original philosophy of AIM.

See also

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