Sunday, October 29, 2017

In honor of our Brother, Teacher, and Example of
Indigenous Resistance

            Nowa Cumig             

(Dennis Banks)

Image result for dennis banks russell means

           Russell Means and Dennis Banks (ca. 1973 and 2012)
Standing Rock, Oceti Sakowin Camp, 2016

New York Times Obituary, October 30,2017


Dennis Banks' powerful indictment of the boarding school genocide
"We Shall Remain" (2009)

Colorado AIM Tribute to Dennis Banks
30 October 2017
Dennis Banks (Nowa Cumig – Ojibwe for “In the Center of the Universe”) was a genuine indigenous revolutionary, not simply because he was willing to defend Native people with his life, but because he worked tirelessly to inspire people of all races and colors to imagine a new future, based on core indigenous values. Banks not only had the courage to “speak truth to power,” but he laid his body on the gears of the machine of anti-Indian power and forced it to a stop.

He might be best known, along with his AIM brother Russell Means, for their leadership in the American Indian Movement (AIM) at Wounded Knee (1973), or The Trail of Broken Treaties (1972), but he spent his entire life empowering Native peoples to extract themselves from the jaws of colonial occupation -- from political and legal injustice, from drugs, alcohol and suicide among Native youth, from a boarding school system that has left a wrecking yard of carnage throughout Indian Country, to corporate/governmental environmental racism in places like Standing Rock and the Tar Sands and the Amazon.

Dennis Banks continued his example until his final breath in this world, and his work will carry on. A new generation has embraced Banks’ vision – from Standing Rock to the United Nations, from the classroom to the boardroom, confronting ongoing anti-Indian racism while constructing a new and sustainable future for the next seven generations of Native children. History placed Dennis Banks in a particular place at a particular historical moment, a moment when Native people in the US were on the brink of extermination. 

Fortunately for Native peoples, Dennis seized his responsibility and helped to create a movement that inspired a resistance that now allows us to speak our languages without fear, to practice our spirituality freely, to protect our children from kidnapping and abuse, to know our histories and defend our treaty rights. He convinced us to stand with dignity and self-respect to assert that Great Turtle Island will always be indigenous territory and that we will never be made to feel like strangers or refugees or orphans in our homeland again.

Dennis Banks was not a saint. He was a human being with all of the strengths and weaknesses of any of us. Despite that, he rose above his flaws and shortcomings and through his life, he encouraged us to remember that we are stronger and smarter and braver and more spiritual than we think we are. He taught us and mentored us to unlock our genetic memory, to live our lives in ways that would make our ancestors proud to call us their descendants.  We owe Dennis Banks much – perhaps our very lives and consciousness.  The Native world, and the larger world around us, is better off because he lived. After a proper period of mourning and reflecting on his life’s work, Nowa Cumig would want us to reset our vision for the Native struggle, reaffirm our commitment to the defense and the liberation of our people, roll up our sleeves, and get back to work. Which is exactly what we intend to do.