Knowing Who You Are: Lessons from Native America
For years the indigenous peoples of the U.S., after having been dispersed and decimated and relegated to reservations, were reduced to caricatures. We all knew Indians and their culture. There was the familiar medicine man, the trading post, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, papooses and squaws, tepees and tomahawks, war dances and war parties. Tonto was the epitome of faithfulness and subservience. The formation and rise of the American Indian Movement, AIM, in the late 1960s and early 1970s did much to break down conventional stereotypes. AIM, through its actions at Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demonstrated that Native Americans could and would fight back against racism and oppression.
Recorded at the Boulder Public Library.
Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota and a prominent voice in the struggle for indigenous rights, was the first national director of the American Indian Movement. Under his leadership, and through actions from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, the organization and the plight of Native Americans received national and international attention. He acted in a number of movies including The Last of the Mohicans and Natural Born Killers. He is the author of Where White Men Fear to Tread and with Bayard Johnson, If You’ve Forgotten the Names of the Clouds, You’ve Lost Your Way. He passed away in South Dakota on October 22, 2012.