Above is the flag of the American Indian Movement


The American Indian Movement (AIM) began in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the summer of 1968.


The AIM was most importantly led by activists George Mitchell, Dennis Banks, Russel Means, and Clyde Bellecourt. The movement was committed to unifying Native Americans all across America, and encouraging them to take pride in their Indian heritage. Native Americans were experiencing poverty, unemployment, and tribal land invasion throughout the generations after the forced assimilation period. The AIM’s primary goal was to make sure that the American government followed through on the guidelines of its treaties with the Indians. As the government continued to ignore the desires of the movement, the AIM adapted more aggressive strategies of fighting for the protection of its rights and treaties. The FBI and CIA quickly identified the AIM as a threat and set out to crush it.

Key Members:

-Members of the AIM
-The Federal Government (Nixon, FBI, CIA)

Above are AIM activists amidst the seizure of Wounded Knee

Goals and Methods:

The AIM wanted nothing more than to gain protection over its treaties and, on a global level, raise awareness to the fact that Native Americans were constantly being overlooked and that African Americans weren't the only minority that existed. During the late 60s and early 70s, the AIM went about bringing the government's attention to their causes in an aggressive fashion. The leaders formed the movement and identified its goals during the late 1960s, therefore, major action didn't occur until the early 1970s.

The Trail of Broken Treaties-1972
Approximately 1,000 angry members of the AIM marched to Washington D.C. with a list of 20 demands of action in regards to broken treaties and illegal use of Indian land for President Nixon. The march resulted in the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Headquarters. The Native Americans trashed the building, causing 2 million dollars worth of damage. To ensure a peaceful end to the riot, the Nixon administration provided the AIM with 66,000 dollars.

The AIM gained a ton of media attention as a result of this march. This was a major step toward the movement because people now gained awareness and sympathy. Nixon basically ignored the list of demands issued by the AIM, and paid the members to get out of Nation's capital.

Wounded Knee Seige (Part Two)-1973
Wounded Knee in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, was the site of the 1890 massacre of hundreds of Native Americans. But in the 1970s, Conservative Sioux tribal leaders were threatened by the agression of the AIM. The AIM planned on protesting these administrations for not advancing with them. In 1973, they decided to take the symbolic settlement of Wounded Knee under their control as an act of rebellion. Quickly, the FBI came in and attempted to get them out. Gunfire and brutal fighting lasted for 71 days! Only two Native Americans were killed, yet hundreds of Native Americans and FBI agents were injured, one agent fully paralyzed. The battle ended when AIM leaders surrendered when a settlement was negotiated between to two sides. The AIM leaders were then brought to trial by the federal government.

It turns out that the FBI had manipulated the witnesses at the trial, and the AIM leaders were released with no penalties. The AIM had finally lit the spark they had been creating. They gained national recognition of their problems and of the neglect from the government. The American people realized that Native Americans were a legitimate minority that needed assistance and protection.

Lasting Impact on American Policy:

The AIM set the stones for the future of American policy making regarding Native Americans. More laws have been created that protect spiritual lands and reservations. The government now continues to identify the Native American popluation as a minority, and has made efforts to assist them (although we've seen not that much is done for all of them). Federal laws such as the Indian Civil Rights Act, give many, but not all, Indian tribes the ability to self-govern in the same style of American government. This goes to show that the Federal Government has also given a lot of power back to tribal leaders, and is trying to respect the way tribes operate.