Dennis Banks was a Native American activist, teacher, and author. He was a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement, which he co-founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1968 to represent urban Indians. Born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, he was also known as Nowa Cumig, which in the Ojibwe language means "in the center of the universe."https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Banks
Dennis Banks was a Native American activist, teacher, and author. He was a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement, which he co-founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1968 to represent urban Indians. Born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, he was also known as Nowa Cumig, which in the Ojibwe language means "in the center of the universe."
Dennis Banks, Actor: The Last of the Mohicans. Dennis Banks was born on April 12, 1937 in Leech Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota, USA. He is known for his work on The Last of the Mohicans (1992), War Party (1988) and Desert Haiku (2014). He died on October 29, 2017 in Rochester, Minnesota.
- Early Life
- American Indian Movement
- Life Underground
- Later Life
- Death and Legacy
Dennis Banks -- Ojibwe (Chippewa) leader, teacher, lecturer, activist, and author -- was born on April 12, 1932 on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. Like many American Indians of his generation, he was taken from his family at the age of five and sent to a government-run school. He was shuttled between various boarding schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) throughout his youth. At the age of 19, Banks joined the US Air Force. He served in Japan and was discharged in the late 1950s. On returning to the United States, he encountered the systemic discrimination that Native Americans faced at the time and continue to face today. He struggled with employment issues and eventually fell into alcoholism and petty crime. In 1966, he was convicted of burglary of a grocery store and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, of which he served 31 months.
During his time in prison, Dennis Banks reconnected with the roots of his culture. He met a fellow American Indian activist, Clyde Bellecourt, and began to identify issues in American Indian culture that required active protest and community support. They prioritized housing, employment and “survival schools” that would preserve American Indian culture, rather than erasing it, as in Banks’s experience with BIA-run boarding schools. In July 1968, Banks and Bellecourt joined with other activists in founding the American Indian Movement, or AIM. AIM was established to protect the traditional ways of Indian people and to engage in legal cases protecting treaty rights of Native Americans, such as rights to hunting and fishing, trapping, and gathering wild rice. AIM was a major civil rights organization with a complex history of militancy and controversy, but also much success. AIM members participated in the famous occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971, where they demanded all...
Between 1976 and 1983, Banks earned an associate of arts degree at the University of California, Davis, and taught at Deganawidah-Quetzecoatl (DQ) University (an all-Indian controlled institution), where he became the first American Indian university chancellor. In the spring of 1979, he taught at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. After Governor Brown left office, Banks received sanctuary on the Onondaga reservation in upstate New York in 1984. While living there, Banks organized the Great Jim Thorpe Run from New York City to Los Angeles, California. A spiritual run, the event ended in Los Angeles, where the Jim Thorpe Memorial Games were held and where the gold medals that Thorpe had previously won in the 1912 Olympic games were restored to the Thorpe family. In 1985, Banks left the Onondaga reservation to surrender to law enforcement officials in South Dakota, and served 18 months in prison. When released, he worked as a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge res...
In 1987, Banks was active in convincing the states of Kentucky and Indiana to pass laws against the desecration of Indian graves and human remains. He organized reburial ceremonies for over 1,200 Indian grave sites that were disturbed by graverobbers in Uniontown, Kentucky. Both Kentucky and Indiana passed strong grave desecration laws in response to Banks’ campaign. In 1988, Banks organized and led a spiritual run called the Sacred Run from New York to San Francisco, and then across Japan from Hiroshima to Hokkaido. Also in 1988, Banks co-wrote his autobiography Sacred Soulwith author and activist Morita Yuri. In the 1990s and 2000s, Banks also acted in the films War Party, The Last of the Mohicans, and Thunderheart. He also led and organized several more Sacred Runs. Starting in 2007, Banks served on the Board of Trustees of Leech Lake Tribal College, a public two-year university in Minnesota.
Dennis Banks passed away in 2017 of pneumonia and complications from open heart surgery. He is survived by over 20 children and stepchildren. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe suspended all administrative duties for a day so that tribespeople could attend Banks’ memorial service. Banks continues to be a symbol of American Indian pride and advocacy for native peoples worldwide. Updates by Matt Salter
BANKS, DENNIS J. Native American activist, organizer, and protest leader Dennis Banks (Nowacumig) helped found the influential american indian movement (AIM). Under his passionate leadership in the late 1960s and early 1970s, AIM championed Native American self-sufficiency, traditions, and values. However, its demand for federal recognition of century-old treaty rights led to violent clashes with authorities, and the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) branded AIM an extremist group.
Mr. Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of (AIM) the American Indian Movement passed away on October 29, 2017. However, his legacy will live forever as a true American Indian “Warrior” of the people. In our short lives we seldom have the opportunity to meet or know of very few “Distinguished People” that truly grace us with their presence.
Oct 30, 2017 · Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of...
…led by Russell Means and Dennis Banks, took the reservation hamlet of Wounded Knee by force, declared it the “Independent Oglala Sioux Nation,” and vowed to stay until the U.S. government met AIM demands for a change in tribal leaders, a review of all Indian treaties, and a U.S. Senate…
Oct 30, 2017 · Dennis Banks, a Native American activist who co-founded the American Indian Movement and helped lead the 1973 armed occupation of Wounded Knee, has died at 80. His death was announced on Facebook,...
Dennis Banks (AP Photo/Doug Dreyer File) Dennis Banks, a co-founder of the American Indian Movement and a leader of the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation, has died, his family announced Monday. He was...
Dennis Banks Quotes and Sayings - Page 1. “What we did in the 1960s and early 1970s was raise the consciousness of white America that this government has a responsibility to Indian people. That there are treaties; that textbooks in every school in America have a responsibility to tell the truth.
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