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Banks, Dennis, with Richard Erdoes. Ojibwa Warrier: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement.

BANKS, Dennis, with Richard Erdoes. Ojibwa warrior: Dennis Banks and the rise of the American Indian Movement. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. 362p. illus, c2004. 0-806-13691X. $19.95. SA

At the time when the push for African American racial justice and the campaign to end American involvement in the war in Vietnam were shaking the nation, American Indians also sought to right grievances that had long haunted them. In this autobiographical account, Dennis Banks, one of the leaders of a group called the American Indian Movement, opened his eyes to the possibility for dignity and freedoms enjoyed by other citizens but, incredibly, denied to America's first residents. This book is both a history of AIM and the story of Banks's personal quest.

Banks provides a valuable perspective on the fight for autonomy that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and into the 1980s. He tells of the "lack of spiritual connection" among Native Indians and how it led to the revival of the Sweat Lodge, which helped them to reestablish that connection; he gives an account of the Sun Dance, long outlawed, which he describes as a rite of healing and survival, a "ceremony that transcends all others." He tells of his own participation in both of these ceremonies. He also informs readers about the Ghost Dance, which came into existence as white settlers and armies increased pressure on the Native American way of life. Using the tools of civil disobedience they had observed in the fight for African American equality, they fought to reclaim ancestral lands and sacred sites such as the Black Hills and fought restrictions on hunting and fishing rights. He and other Indian leaders led the campaign against the "lack of power, our inability to run our own lives," and the control the Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to exercise on them. They challenged the disdain for treaties by the government, limitations (some of them social) on where Indians could go, and police brutality very much like that visited on black Americans. Banks gives an interesting description of the 1973 Wounded Knee shootings. He spent time in prison, but has been released. This is an absorbing, well-written book, a useful Indian perspective on the life-changing events of the 20th century. Edna Boardman, Libn., Bismarck, ND
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Author:Boardman, Edna
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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