The American Indian Movement

Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
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The American Indian Movement existed more than 500 year ago without a name and was formalized as the American Indian Movement (AIM) on 1968, July 28th at Minnesota in Minneapolis. It grew from policy making movement to making programs and projects from its initial task as a movement that was meant to serve many Indian communities.

Its success cannot be disputed and is attributed to the spiritual and elderly guidance in its operations. It was initially meant to renew the Indian religious practices and was further against the ruinous policies that existed in the America.

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It led protests that advocated for the indigenous American interests, implemented employment programs for the Native Americans in rural reserves and cities and advocated for cultural renewal in and outside America as well.

.Among those who co-founded it in 1968 included NeeGawNwayWeeDun, Herb Powless, Dennis Banks, Eddie Benton Banai, Leonard Peltier, Clyde Bellecourt, and Russell Means among others.

The movement used tactics that would publicize its needs; it further used the media and American press. It used forced seizure, peaceful sit- in and forceful takeovers. The AIM take-over and the occupations includes the:

1.      In 1973, the wounded knee incident ( Pine ridge reservation)

2.      In 1973, the Custer county  courthouse

3.      In 1972, the bureau of Indian affairs that was located in Washington DC.

The Pine Ridge incident of Wounded Knee was a widely assimilated idea because it demanded the reinstatement of about 300 treaties between the federal government and the Native American that had been broken.

 This led to trials of several IAM members who were eventually acquitted. The AIM had held 11 hostages that resulted to a 71 days stand off between the federal agents and the Aim. The Wounded Knee, a tiny village was the site of the 1890 last great massacre of the Native Americans.

The taking over of Indian affairs headquarters bureau in 1972 was supported by many Americans because the government had created a tribal council in 1934 that was against the development of the Native Americans.

A gun battle between the FBI and the IAM members in 1975, July26th, which resulted to the killing of two FBI agents and Joseph Stuntz, this eventually led to conviction of one of the leader of AIM, Leonard Peltier, for the murder of the FBI agent.

This conviction has been opposed by many human right activists in the world, a court of appeal judge, Gerald Heaney in his ruling said that though the Natives were guilty of the murder government had overreacted resulting to fatal shooting. This showed that the movement was a widely assimilated idea.

The mid 1980s conflict in Nicaragua between the Sandinista government and the Miskito Indian where by these Indian opposed their relocation upon being supported by the AIM leads, more specifically Russell Means. This movement at that time was seen as a minority movement since even the white who supported it was against their opposition of relocation.

AIM has been advocating for the for improved living conditions for the of the native Americans while founding institutions meant to serve their specific needs, some of these institutions include  Heart of the Earth School and American Indian Opportunities and Organizations among others.


A Brief History of AIM, retrieved on 17th, October, 2007, available at

AIM Grand Governing Council, retrieved on 17th, October, 2007, available at

American Indian Movement – AIM, retrieved on 17th, October, 2007, available at

Kenneth S. Stern (1994) Loud Hawk: The United States Versus the American Indian Movement, Net Library publishers, US

Cite this Page

The American Indian Movement. (2016, Jun 29). Retrieved from

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