American Indian Movement: Activism and Repression Essay

American Indian Movement: Activism and Repression Essay

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American Indian Movement: Activism and Repression


     Native Americans have felt distress from societal and governmental interactions for hundreds of years. American Indian protests against these pressures date back to the colonial period. Broken treaties, removal policies, acculturation, and assimilation have scarred the indigenous societies of the United States. These policies and the continued oppression of the native communities produced an atmosphere of heightened tension. Governmental pressure for assimilation and their apparent aim to destroy cultures, communities, and identities through policies gave the native people a reason to fight. The unanticipated consequence was the subsequent creation of a pan-American Indian identity of the 1960s. These factors combined with poverty, racism, and prolonged discrimination fueled a resentment that had been present in Indian communities for many years. In 1968, the formation of the American Indian Movement took place to tackle the situation and position of Native Americans in society. This movement gave way to a series of radical protests, which were designed to draw awareness to the concerns of American Indians and to compel the federal government to act on their behalf. The movement’s major events were the occupation of Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore, The Trail of Broken Treaties, and Wounded Knee II. These AIM efforts in the 1960s and 1970s era of protest contained many sociological theories that helped and hindered the Native Americans success. The Governments continued repression of the Native Americans assisted in the more radicalized approach of the American Indian Movement. Radical tactics combined with media attention stained the AIM and their effectiveness. Native militancy became a repertoire of action along with adopted strategies from the Civil Rights Movement. In this essay, I will explain the formation of AIM and their major events, while revealing that this identity based social movement’s radical approach led to a harsher governmentally repressive counter movement that ultimately influenced the movements decline.

     The growing pan-Indian activism that was becoming increasingly strong in regions of the United States helped develop the American Indian Movement. Educated young urban Indians were becoming involved in rights issues and insisted on self-determination in the 1960s era of prote...


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...erican
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     Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1999.

Johnson, Troy R. The Occupation of Alcatraz Island: Indian Self-Determination and the
Rise of Indian Activism. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 1996.

Johnson, Troy, Joane Nagel, and Duane Champagne. American Indian Activism:
Alcatraz to the Longest Walk. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 1997.

Means, Russell, and Marvin J. Wolf. Where White Men Fear To Tread.
     New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1995.

PBS. Alcatraz is Not an Island: Timeline of Indian Activism.
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Sanchez, John and Mary E. Stuckey. “The rhetoric of American Indian activism in the
     1960s and 1970s.” Communication Quarterly 48.2 (2000): 1-9.

Smith, Paul Chaat, and Robert Allen Warrior. Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement
from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee. New York: W.W. Norton. 1996.

Vine, Deloria. Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of
Independence. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1985.

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