Modern Day Activism
Dennis Banks a true Activist
Dennis Banks (April 12, 1937- October 29, 2017) was an American Indian activist, teacher, and author who has help founded the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM was established to protect the ways of the Indians such as their rights to hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering rice. AIM also would engage in protest and gather community support to defend legal cases and treaty rights that have been established. Dennis Banks found some of his most useful time in prison where he met Clyde Bellecourt another American Indian activist, the time was used to restore his culture and who he truly was. Once out of Prison Banks was a part of the Alcatraz Island protest, he also led the Trail of Broken Treaties, and a protest in Custer South Dakota. From the South Dakota protest Banks was convicted of riot and assault coming from a disagreement where he then found himself in prison again. However that is not how Banks story ends once released from prison he continued his activist duties organizing reburial ceremonies for Indian grave sites that have been desecrated by graverobbers, he led a spiritual run from New York to San Francisco and then Japan, Banks also acted in American Indian films such as Thunderheart. Today Dennis Banks is an icon for activist.
An Activist take over
On November 20th, 1969, a group of Native American activists took possession of Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz island is an abandoned high-security prison in the San Francisco Harbor. The group who seized the Island wanted to symbolize the colonial occupation of their lands. This was in reference to the Fort Laramie treaty. The Fort Laramie Treaty was created to bring peace between whites and the Lakota/Dakota tribes. The Native Americans who called themselves the “Indians of All Tribes” arrived at the island sailing through the San Francisco Bay when there was low security. Once the activists group arrived at the island, they made their mark by writing graffiti on the prison reading “Peace and Freedom. Welcome. Home of the Free Indian Land.”. Now that they have established their presence the Native Americans created homes, a kitchen, public relations department, and a grade school all on the Island. The Government officials realized that the activist would not just give back the land that it was theirs, so government settled for a short time letting the Native Americans occupy the island. However, after a while Alcatraz Island lost most of its strong leading activist, the government after a 19-month occupation put it to an end forcing the people out. Today Alcatraz Island is a national park where you can go to see some of its historic pieces such as the graffiti.
Indigenous Women's Rights
The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that was created by Natives for the acknowledgment and protection of Indigenous Women against domestic violence. The safety of Indigenous women for a long time was not emphasized, with Indian women being misrepresented in over-sexualized ways and victimized for many centuries. This center provides numerous resources for women who face sexual assault and/or domestic violence and they also strive to raise awareness to these issues. An important event that this center advocates for, is the Savanna Act. The Savanna act was a bill passed in 2019, named after 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind who was killed in 2017 while she was pregnant. Being a member of the tribal community of Spirit Lake Dakota, the committee of Indian Affairs finally decided enough was enough and passed this Act. The hearing included multiple acts for the benefit of Indigenous women such as the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence act, The Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act, and The Not Invisible Act. Also, a new and similar initiative is also the large new movement for “Missing and Murdered Indigenous women”, also known as MMIW. This is another way of women coming together and taking the lead in protecting and advocating for each other.