Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement

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University of Oklahoma Press, Feb 1, 2005 - History - 352 pages
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Dennis Banks, an American Indian of the Ojibwa Tribe and a founder of the American Indian Movement, is one of the most influential Indian leaders of our time. In Ojibwa Warrior, written with acclaimed writer and photographer Richard Erdoes, Banks tells his own story for the first time and also traces the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The authors present an insider's understanding of AIM protest events--the Trail of Broken Treaties march to Washington, D.C.; the resulting takeover of the BIA building; the riot at Custer, South Dakota; and the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee. Enhancing the narrative are dramatic photographs, most taken by Richard Erdoes, depicting key people and events.

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User Review  - GalenWiley - LibraryThing

"Born in 1937 and raised by his grandparents on the Leach Lake reservation in Minnesota, Dennis Banks grew up learning traditional Ojibwa lifeways. As a young child he was torn from his home and ... Read full review

Ojibwa warrior: Dennis Banks and the rise of the American Indian Movement

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The American Indian Movement's (AIM) initial purpose upon its founding in 1968 was to protect the civil rights of Native Americans living in urban areas. Its scope quickly expanded as AIM turned to ... Read full review

Selected pages


A Night to Remember
At the Center of the Universe
The Yellow Bus
We AIM Not to Please
Crow Dog
On the Warpath
A Nation Reborn
The Stand Down
The Waters of Justice Have Been Polluted
The Symbionese Liberation Army
The Informer
Fields of Terror

Yellow Thunder
Fishing in Troubled Waters
One Hell of a Smoke Signal
The Town with the Gunsmoke Flavor
A Place Called Wounded Knee
The Siege
Suddenly I Am an Elder
Looking Back

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About the author (2005)

Dennis James Banks was born on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota on April 12, 1937. When he was 5 years old, he was taken from his family and sent to a series of government schools for Indians. He ran away often and at the age of 17, he returned to Leech Lake. Unable to find work, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Japan. While there, he married a Japanese woman, had a child with her, and went absent without leave. He was arrested and returned to the United States. After being discharged, he moved to Minneapolis where he was arrested in a burglary and went to jail for two and a half years. After being released in 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement to fight the oppression and endemic poverty of Native Americans. He led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation's history of injustices against its indigenous peoples. These included a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and a protest in Custer, South Dakota over a white man being charged with involuntary manslaughter instead of murder after killing an Indian man. The protest became a face-off with Custer police that resulted in the murdered man's mother being beaten by officers. In 1975, Banks was found guilty of riot and assault with a deadly weapon for his role in the riot in Custer. Facing up to 15 years in prison, he jumped bail. He was a fugitive for nine years before finally turning himself in and serving 14 months in prison. Once released, he moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation to work as a drug addiction and alcoholism counselor. He appeared in several movies and documentaries including War Party, Thunderheart, The Last of the Mohicans, Older Than America, We Shall Remain, Part V: Wounded Knee, A Good Day to Die, and Nowa Cumig: The Drum Will Never Stop. His autobiography, Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement written with Richard Erdoes, was published in 2005. He died from complications of pneumonia following open-heart surgery on October 29, 2017 at the age of 80.

Richard Erdoes traveled a long way from his birthplace in Vienna, Austria, to become a prominent writer on Native American issues and the Indian Civil Rights Movement. Born on July 7, 1912 into an artistic family, Erdoes moved to the United States where he lived and worked as a magazine illustrator and photographer. While visiting an American Indian reservation, Erdoes was shocked and outraged at conditions he found there. Although Erdoes had illustrated many books during his long career, the first illustrated work of his own dealing with Native Americans was The Pueblo Indians (1967). While doing a painting and portfolio for Life magazine on a Sioux Indian Reservation Erdoes met an old medicine man that asked him to write his biography. This resulted in Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (1971). Erdoes lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he writes, paints, and is active in Native American issues.

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