“A Good Day to Die”, by filmmakers David Mueller and Lynn Salt (Choctaw), won best documentary at its world premiere at the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City.
It is also the first film of its kind to be executive produced by a tribal nation, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation of California. It tells the story of Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement.
This is a story of American history I did not learn growing up.
In grade school and high school I knew nothing about the American Indian Movement or the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C., or the confrontations in Custer and Wounded Knee, S.D.
I did not know who Dennis Banks was until I was in college. It was there that I took classes on Native American history and read books such as “Like a Hurricane: The American Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.”
Banks co-founded the AIM in 1968 to call attention to the atrocities that were occurring to Native Americans in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The film explains how his life was shaped by his experiences in the boarding schools, the military and time spent in state prison.
This documentary brought to life what I have read in books. Interviews from AIM members, politicians, lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers gave various perspectives on a turbulent era.
Comment: For more on the subject, see AIM's Misdeeds Too "Complex" to Cover?, Debate Over Wounded Knee, and AIM Changed Over Time.