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History Video: United Native Americans Leader Helps AIM Leader

After being convicted by a South Dakota jury, AIM leader Dennis Banks was helped by UNA leader Lehman Brightman.
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Dennis Banks, Ojibway, was born in 1937 in Leech Lake, Minnesota. Like many Native American children, he was shipped off to boarding schools and forbidden to speak his language, Lakota.

He and Clyde Bellecourt, also Ojibway, founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 after meeting in Stillwater State Penitentiary. The two wanted to address a number of problems facing Native people including housing and employment. Read more about Banks’s history and the beginning of AIM, here.

RELATED: Dennis Banks on the AIM Era: ‘I Regret That It Ended Too Soon’

In July 1975, Banks was convicted by a South Dakota jury on charges of riot and assault with a deadly weapon for his role in events at the Custer County Courthouse in 1973. According to the Custer County Chronicle, some 100 to 200 AIM members protested the murder of Wesley Bad Heart Bull of Hot Springs.

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Before being picked up by the FBI in January 1976, Banks stayed with Lehman Leonard Brightman, director of United Native Americans, and his family. The video below gives his story about how things happened after Banks showed up at his door.