Banks, Dennis James

Banks, Dennis James,

1937–2017, Native American civil-rights activist, b. Leech Lake Reservation, Minn. Of Ojibwa (Chippewa) heritage, he helped found the American Indian MovementAmerican Indian Movement
(AIM), Native American civil-rights activist organization, founded in 1968 to encourage self-determination among Native Americans and to establish international recognition of their treaty rights.
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 (1968) to fight for indigenous rights. Banks was a leader in the six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. (1972), and was prominent in the 71-day armed occupation of Wounded KneeWounded Knee,
creek, rising in SW S.Dak. and flowing NW to the White River; site of the last major battle of the Indian wars. After the death of Sitting Bull, a band of Sioux, led by Big Foot, fled into the badlands, where they were captured by the 7th Cavalry on Dec.
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, S.Dak. Although he and Russell MeansMeans, Russell,
1939–2012, Native American activist, b. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.Dak. An Oglala Sioux, he grew up near San Francisco, and attended four colleges but never graduated.
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 were acquitted of assault and riot charges afterward, Banks was found quilty (1975) of similar charges arising from a 1973 Custer, S.Dak., protest. After jumping bail, he found refuge first in California (1976) and then (1983) on a New York reservation. In 1984 he returned South Dakota and served 14 months before he was paroled. He subsequently was a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge Reservation; he also appeared in films and documentaries and was the 2016 vice-presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom party.

Bibliography

See his memoir (2005).

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