July 14, 2008

AIM changed over time

Tim Giago:  Wounded Knee from an FBI agent's viewI was an early critic of the occupation and of the actions of some of the occupiers. It always bothered me that AIM chose to occupy a village on the sovereign lands of an Indian nation. In so doing they disrespected the very thing they had been using as the foundation of their anger: tribal sovereignty. It has always been my contention that AIM would have been much more successful amongst the Indian people and the public in general if they had chosen a path of non-violence. If they had pursued the course set by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi I truly believe they would have won the acceptance and support of the American people.

I know there were those within the Movement that wanted to emulate Dr. King and Gandhi and follow the path of non-violence, but the hotheads prevailed and guns and violence took the lead. I think it was this unfettered warrior mentality that eventually caused so many peace-loving Indians to back away from AIM. But I consider Dr. King and Gandhi to be warriors because it takes more courage to accept a blow than to give one.

But things did change within the Movement over the years and this is the point that totally eludes Mr. Trimbach. I know because I was also a part of that change. I saw the change in Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Russell Means and others within the Movement. Vernon Bellecourt and Floyd Westerman became my friends and I broke bread with Bill Means and others within the Movement. We argued but agreed that in essence we were fighting for the same things, but perhaps we were coming at it from different directions.

Russell Means went on to become a star in Hollywood, the Bellecourts returned to their native Minnesota and worked hard for the education and promotion of the Indian children. Bill Means went on to head up many programs beneficial to the Indian people. So time did not stand still for them as it did for Joe Trimbach.
Comment:  Russell Means is now pursuing change through his nonviolent establishment of the Republic of Lakotah. This movement is so peaceful that no one's heard of it for months.

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