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Dennis Banks, a Native American leader is an Anishinaabe born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. Banks is also known as Nowa Cumig; his name in the Ojibwe language means “In the Center of the Ground.”

 

In 1968 he co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM), and established 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 rice farming.

 

He participated in the 1969–1971 occupation of Alcatraz Island. In 1972 he assisted in the organization of AIM’s “Trail of Broken Treaties”, a caravan across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. to call attention to the plight of Native Americans.

 

He also spearheaded the movement on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1973 to oust the corrupt government-appointed chairman. These activities led to the occupation of Wounded Knee and a siege of 71 days, which received national attention. Banks was the principal negotiator and leader of the Wounded Knee forces.

 

Dennis is really a special person in our lives. Many years ago, the year we celebrated Grandpa Frank Fools Crow’s birthday with the Paha Sapa concert in Rapid City, my (Terri’s) car broke down on the way to Dennis’ house. He sent someone to pick me up, all the way across the state in Chamberlin. I was going through a hard time then, and he was always there for me. He loaned me his limosine for a couple months so I’d have a car to drive! Now that was funny, from a broken down pony to a limosine:-)

 

We love this quote from him:

 

“Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us. It is a belief that all humankind are related to each other. Each has a purpose, spirit and sacredness. It is an understanding with the Great Spirit or Creator that we will follow these ways. And in this understanding we believe we are related to all other living species: the Winged Ones, the Four Leggeds, the Plantlife, and all other elements of life, Air-Fire-Water, the Sun-Moon-Stars are there to guide us.

 

The Creator also gave us special instructions on how to live with one another, how the women are to care for the future generations, how the men are to provide for the generations today and tomorrow.

 

These instructions and understandings have been the base of our spiritual ways – we have come to practice them daily. This philosophy has endured and cared for us, and we shall never abandon it. Never!”

 

 

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