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"Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us."

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Wounded Knee

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Dennis Banks

Dennis Banks, Native American leader, teacher, lecturer, activist and author, is an Anishinabe-born Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. In 1968 he co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM), establishing it to protect the traditional ways of Indian people and to engage in legal cases protecting treaty rights of Natives, such as hunting and fishing, trapping, and wild riceing.

Dennis Banks has probably done as much as anyone alive to advance American Indian rights. He's best known for leading the 1973 occupation by militant Indians of Wounded Knee, S.D., where, 83 years before, U.S. troops had slain a band of Lakota women and children.

As a result of his involvement in Wounded Knee and Custer, Banks and 300 others were arrested and faced trial. He was acquitted of the Wounded Knee charges, but was convicted of riot and assault stemming from a confrontation at Custer, an AIM-led a protest in Custer, South Dakota in 1973 against judicial process that found a white man innocent of murdering an Indian.

Refusing the prison term, Banks went underground, later receiving amnesty in California by then Governor Jerry Brown.