Behind the scenes, as law enforcement officials tried to stem protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, alumni from the George W. Bush White House were leading a crisis communications effort to discredit pipeline protesters. This revelation comes from documents obtained via an open records request from the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department in Wyoming.
Russell Means’ FBI file offers a day-by-day account of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee
Russell Means was a seminal figure in Indigenous politics for decades, rising to the rank of National Director of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1970. His 178 page FBI file, however, only includes records regarding one incident Means was involved in - the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, a months-long standoff between AIM activists carrying small arms, and local and federal law enforcement packing 133,000 rounds of ammunition, armored personnel carriers, and .50 caliber machine guns.
To mark the 49th anniversary this week of the founding of the American Indian Movement (AIM), we’re taking a look at the FBI files of John Trudell, esteemed Santee Dakota poet, writer, speaker, and musician who was a key member of AIM, rising to the rank of National Chairman by the mid seventies. To the Bureau, Trudell was a renowned “agitator,” but within his community he was a motivator who inspired Indigenous peoples across the nation to strive for a better life.
Correspondence between Department of Homeland Security and Portland Police shows how law enforcement is increasingly treating protests like war zones.
Thanks to a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, I had the privilege of visiting both North and South Dakota and speak with witnesses and victims of the widespread police violence that occurred on the north border of the Standing Rock Reservation. There will be plenty of follow-up in the weeks to come, but while the memory’s still fresh, I wanted to share an initial reflection from traveling to the treaty lands of the Dakotas.