The below linked article caused a stir when it was first published – a national newspaper giving voice to what was commonly known and commonly denied by those with something to hide in ndn country.
AIM was more than a band of roving militants as the article describes them, the leadership was in fact a cadre of money grubbing self serving thugs willing to go to any length in their quest for personal power, influence, and above all money.
Fiefdoms were carved out, so much so that Russell Means boasted nothing could occur on the Pine Ridge reservation without his personal knowledge and consent – a boast that would come back to haunt him following the murder of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash and probably played a role in his becoming a “snitch” as he “assisted law enforcement” in investigations.
Power struggles and inter clique armed standoffs such as the one that occurred at Ajo, Arizona over who got to lead a rally, who got the photo op to strut and play the role of warrior
Bodies began turning up, the newspaper office of Tim Giago was firebombed as the result of unflattering articles related to AIM that appeared in his newspaper.
Threats against life and limb, even directed at family and children were common place as the body count rose.
Murder was the norm on PR and not all of it was AIM sponsored – Dick Wilson who if he hadn’t been on the opposing side would have been a perfect fit for an AIM leadership role as his disdain for human life was rivaled only by their own.
His goal mirrored that of Means, Banks, and the Bellecourts – it was power and influence he was after and woe to any who contested his ambitions. He had his goons and AIM had their’s.
Ultimately Wilson was something of a windfall for AIM, as the body count grew so did the confusion, so too did the ability for both sides to deny culpability and lay the blame on the other – if not each other then the feds.
Wilson afforded the opportunity for AIM to invade the village of Wounded Knee under the pretext of a “liberation” effort.
A liberation that resulted in the gutting of the community and multiple murders committed by the thugs that populated AIM.
Something to this day AIM has never acknowledged, apologized for, or made any effort to compensate and assist in the rebuilding.
They in fact attempted an internet fundraiser to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of carnage, murder, and mayhem – a fund raiser seeking fifty thousand dollars that fell flat on it’s face.
An omen perhaps that the blood soaked AIM banner no longer flew as high among those with romantic notions of cowboys and ndns, nor the media that had once pandered to them.
That the feathers so artfully crafted to resemble a peace sign would have been more representative had they been the skeletal remains of their victims.
The AIM theater of “oppressed warriors” that fed the public such standards as “it’s a good day to die” and “ in the spirit of crazy horse” became too transparent and in that transparency questions arose – questions met with silence, talk of conspiracies, and of course the ever present lies that were the stock in trade.
A movement like AIM will always draw well intentioned people, but it is also a thug magnet, and thugs abounded in the movement.
Thugs like Leonard Peltier, a second rate wannabe at best on the run from a Wisconsin warrant, or fellow thug Dave Hill AIM’s resident bomb maker – kindred spirits cleaving to one another.
At the apex of thuggery were individuals like Means and Dennis Bank$ – the photo accompanying this article speaks to their fascination with photo ops and role playing.
Here we have the contemplative stoic ndn framed by a background of tipis, all that was missing was to photo shop the car out and replace it with a horse or two – the public would have loved it.
AIM appeared at a pivotal movement in this countries history, a time of civil-rights protests and a growing social awareness of long running inequities.
A time of the United Farm Workers and Caesar Chavez a man of great dignity and integrity – a time of the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Students for a Democratic Society, Woodstock, Hippies and Yuppies.
A void existed among the nations, gone we’re the great leaders of the past – we had won battles but lost the war.
We lived in gulags unable to go and come as we once had – gone were the hunts and the nomadic lifestyle characteristic to many of us, but most importantly what was missing was the ability to be ourselves.
In that loss pride and self respect had become endangered – tribal governments drifted away from tradition and we became dependent for the very essentials to sustain us.
A void AIM recognized and seized upon – if the intent was ever a worthy one it quickly segued into the pursuit of power and money.
A pursuit that abandoned all cultural norms and led to murder, drunken and drug induced revelry during ceremonies, and an agenda to usurp and marginalize the role of traditional elders.
An agenda that shouldn’t have fooled anyone save for the void that existed and the voice of nations crying out for relief, for independence and the sovereignty that was and remains our birthright.
The leadership often spoke of being adept at theater, a tool they employed – they spoke of the poverty and disenfranchisement of “their people” and the “people’s movement” AIM was.
Yet even as they spoke such things they scammed and stole donations that would have, should have, been of some benefit to “their people” and they did so with an increasing sense of arrogance and stop us if you can attitude.
If you didn’t sing their praises you were either a fed or a sellout – a fed as in an informant and a sellout as a hang around the fort.
When in truth it was the leadership who were selling out – selling out to groups like the CPUSA, and despotic oppressive foreign governments as they sang the songs not of the people but of a Judas goat.
In truth it was some number among the leadership that became feds as an act of self preservation.
An environment conducive to individuals like Peltier and Hill, – an environment where thuggery was celebrated within the ranks – toting a gun or making bombs the individuals bona fides should any question whether they were a warrior or not.
But also an environment that provided insulation for Means, Bank$, etal predicated on the closed society nature of the rez, intimidation, and the awareness that AIM would just as soon kill you, a family member, or a child if they were to be taken at their word as they would blink an eye.
Means who multiple family members of his were involved in the abduction and murder of Annie Mae.
Means who inspite of boasting nothing AIM related could take place in his personal fiefdom shed the crocodile tears of pure snake oil some twenty plus years later to claim he knew nothing about the events until that year, 1999 – his personal turmoil and grief upon learning the call to murder Annie was taken at his brothers house was almost too much to bear.
Bank$ always assuming the role of the misunderstood victim professed his undying love for Annie and had he only known in time, and further soils her name, her memory, in saying “we” all loved and trusted her.
While ignoring it was he who identified Annie’s remains in an arroyo on PR when discovered days before anyone else was able to, and did this from a distance of a thousand miles or so away.
Bank$, who like Means, Leonard Crow Dog and the rest of them never missed an opportunity to name brand a ceremony and charge a fee for attendance and now likens himself to a spiritual leader as the scams continue.
Bank$ and Means, warriors and protectors who never lifted a finger to protect anyone but themselves, who in their professed respect for Annie never attended her funeral, never so much as phoned her daughters or family to offer condolences.
And Peltier with a history of preferring thirteen year old girls, interrogating women and coercing them into making bombs – another “warrior” and “protector” who is destined to die in prison and rightfully so – another AIM “hero”.
Dave Hill who after being busted for bombing Mt. Rushmore let it be known if his buds didn’t pony up bail and quickly he would start talking.
Start talking – and then did to be released on his personal recognizance, only to be arrested on a states weapons charges that subsequently were dropped at the behest of the feds for services rendered.
Yeah, heroes and warriors one all who lived by the adage it’s a good day to die, as long as it was someone else who did the dying like Annie, Perry Ray Robinson jr, Roque Duenas, and their multiple victims at WK2.
The AIM manifesto is a harder sell now than it was what with the internet and all, once their vehicle of choice to scam and propagandize now the proverbial tiger whose tail they dare not let go of, a door they opened but cannot close.