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The American Indian Movement Essay

2676 words - 11 pages

American Indians once lived a prosperous and full life, relying on the bounty of land and nature. Colonization by white settlers disrupted this peaceful existence, uprooting tribes from their land and forcing them to assimilate to new cultural and religion views. Years of mistreatment and abuse led to the organization of the American Indian Movement to fight for their rights and liberty. Through the AIM, Indians attempted to gain recognition and spread knowledge of their culture and heritage to American citizens in order to attain a place in society. Leaders of the AIM created a manifesto of change in 1972 which listed goals they wanted to meet under three broad categories: economic, social and political. While the AIM was organized in response to the lack of basic rights and oppressive nature of the US government, their goals have yet to be met with any long term success.
The Wounded Knee Massacre politically altered the relationship between American Indians and the US government with long lasting repercussions. The massacre took place roughly one hundred years before the AIM was formed , on December 29, 1890, as the last battle of the American Indian war, a massacre took place at the Lakota Pine Ridge reservation near South Dakota. The US 7th Calvary intruded upon the reservation as a means to disarm the Lakota of their rifles. It is speculated that a deaf tribal man refused to give his rifle to American authorities, in response the Calvary point blank shot the man leading to chaos as the few Lakota warriors shot out as a defense mechanism before they were quickly outnumbered. (Nelson) The definition of a massacre is a killing of many unresisting human beings under circumstances of aristocracy. The incident at Wounded Knee is considered a massacre because there was a pre-conceited notion about American Indians as sub human therefore making it easier for the soldiers to slaughter them. The crimes which were committed on December 29th were lopsided fights between two opposing sides where a clearly dominate side was pronounced, therefore Wounded Knee is considered a massacre. 150 people were killed along with 50 injured. (CITATION) Women and children were standing by unarmed yet were still killed. Even though their innocence was apparent it did not save them from the injustice committed by the Calvary. Around twenty American soldiers were rewarded with the Medal of honor as it was seen as an act of fortitude.
During the 1960s other marginalized groups were gaining their rights, such as African Americans, which led American Indians to question their own inequalities in society and influenced them to organize on a national level. The Civil Rights Movement, which involved a number of political protests to fight for equality under the law for African Americans, became a point of inspiration for the American Indians. The Civil Rights movement mainly fought for their freedom in two ways: non violent and violent protests. In order to overcome...

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