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Date: Jan. 2015
From: Cobblestone(Vol. 36, Issue 1)
Publisher: Cricket Media
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 323 words
Lexile Measure: 980L

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The American Indian Movement (AIM) wanted to get the U.S. government's attention. In 1972, it backed a protest named the "Trail of Broken Treaties." Supporters drove across the country to Washington, D.C., to protest the poor conditions in which many Native Americans lived.

The AIM's most famous protest became known as the Wounded Knee Incident. It started on February 27,1973, when about 200 people took over the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. They thought the tribal leader of the Oglala Sioux, Richard Wilson, was corrupt. He was not helping the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation, who are some of the poorest people in America. AIM activists thought Wilson was just another example of the government mistreating Native Americans.


American officials surrounded the town, and FBI agents and other law enforcement officers set up a roadblock to keep it isolated. After 15 days, they decided their actions were making things worse, and they let people come and go. More protestors, who had heard about the standoff on the news, rushed in. Officers cut off the town again. Both sides shot at each other, and several people died.

Finally, Harlington Wood Jr. from the U.S. Department of Justice was able to talk to the protesters. He helped each side to understand the other one. Meanwhile, the government tried to weaken the protesters by cutting off their electricity and water. When, on April 26, a government sniper killed a young Oglala man, tribal elders asked the protesters to end the standoff.

After 71 days, the protesters agreed to give up. The government agreed to let them go. The AIM's efforts succeeded in making the American people aware of the difficulties native people still face, and they sparked a renewed interest in preserving native culture and traditions.--H.C.R.

Caption: Dennis Banks, one of the leaders of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and a participant at the standoff at Wounded Knee, reflects on events there.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A400413965