Of course missing some stuff but that is ok…AMMO in this…
MORANDUM FROM W.M. FELT TO SAC, Albany Pg3.
SUBJECT: American Indian Movement
FILE NO. 100-462483
VOLUME NO. 45
Transmit the following (type in plain text or code)
Via: Airtel (Priority)
To: Director, FBI (100-462483)
From: SAC, CHICAGO (105-34860)
SUBJECT: AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT (AIM)
Re CG teletype, 3/12/75
Referenced teletype advised Channel 11, WTTW-TV, Chicago’s Public Broadcasting Station news
Program televised at 7:00 p.m., 3/12/75, a discussion of matters relating to allegation
DOUGLAS DURHAM, Chief Security officer for AIM was a paid FBI informer.
Attached hereto are two copies of verbatim transcription, consisting of eight pages, for the
Bureau and Recipient offices, of TV news broadcast.
Copies being furnished to OM and MI in view of material set forth pertaining to their Division.
ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED
HEREIN IS UNCLASSIFIED
Date 1/27/84 By sp5
2-Omaha (100-8748) (RM)
2-Milwaukee (157-2028) (RM)
Approved by: Special Agent in Charge
Original MEMORANDUM FROM SAC, Chicago to FBI Director Pg 1.
And approximately one-half mile south of a building occupied by Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense
Committee workers, as they approached BLACKED OUT residence they noted several new gates in the pasture
leading to the home. A bunker with an American flag flying upside down was noted on the hill behind the
home and at the gate.
One of the bunkers was made of Shell gas tanks and tires which were filled with sand and boards.
He heard rifle fire which he considered to be target practice coming from the direction of BLACKED OUT residence
during the past week.
Efforts are continuing to locate fugitive PELTIER and other fugitives who are believed located in the area of
Special Agents working Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are fully aware of the potentials for danger which they may
face in connection with their investigations and as in connection with the foregoing , strict precautions are taken.
Original MEMORANDUM FROM SAC, Chicago to FBI Director Pg 2.
3/12/73 re: WITW broadcast of Durham’s confession
Manuscript of Program
Memo: re: Concern over other informants from Minneapolis.
Suggests pulling other informants out of AIM until trials are finished.
Determination by FBI director not to pull informants, based on determination that Durham and two other informants did
not invade the defense establishment.
5/16/75 Information on whereabouts of fugitive Peltier
Public News Center, a television news show on Chicago’s WTTW-TV (Channel 11) on their 7:00 p.m. news show,
March 12, 1975, presented the following information relating to the American Indian Movement (AIM).
JOHN CALLAWAY, WTTW-TV News Editor and News Show Moderator, commenced news program, Introducing Joel Wiesman, WTTW-TV Political Editor.
Other speakers on news program as indicated below are SCOTT SIMON, WTTW-TV news reporter and Sanford
Unger, Washington Editor of the “Atlantic Monthly”.
Set forth is a verbatim transcription of WTTW-TV news show relating to AIM.
Transmit the following (type in plain text or code)
Via Airtel Airmail (Priority)
To: Director, FBI (ATTENTION: INTELLIGENCE DIVISION)
From: SAC, MINNEAPOLIS (157-1458)
SUBJECT: AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT (AIM)
DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMANTS
This is to advise FBIHQ that in our view the operation of informants in the American Indian Movement at this time has
more disadvantage than advantages and, therefore, for the time being this practice should be discontinued.
Ever since the disclosure of DOUGLAS DURHAM as an FBI source, we have been deluged with motions, hearings, etc., and,
most particularly, with unfavorable comments by the media concerning the issue of an FBI informant penetrating the
defense establishment. Regardless of what we in the FBI may think, we must take cognizance of the generally unfavorable
reaction that this disclosure has precipitated.
At the present time, in the area covered by the Minneapolis Division, many AIM leaders are under indictment for Federal
and/ or State offenses. Some of the individuals involved include DENNIS BANKS, RUSSELL MEANS, VERNON BELLECOURT,
CLYDE BELLECOURT, CARTER CAMP, STANLEY HOLDER, AND LEONARD CROW DOG. All of these individuals will be in
court sometime during 1975 to face an assortment of charges, some of which stem from Wounded Knee and some pertain
to other situations. At the present time, a trial is underway in state court involving AIM personnel causing damage at the
Minnehaha Courthouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Trials will be held in state court in Custer, South Dakota, in the
near future for the Custer riots that occurred in early February, 1973. We will have further non-leadership Wounded
Knee trials in Sioux City, Iowa, including the very important case of the individuals charged with shooting an FBI Agent
during the Wounded Knee Occupation. It is expected that soon a new trial date will be set in Federal Court for the
Wounded Knee Leadership Cases.
All of the above criminal charges will be unnecessarily placed in jeopardy by operating FBI informants or sources until
all of these trials are complete. It is simply not enough for us to say that we have no way of assuring that the informant
will not in fact, be privy to defense strategy in these cases. Of particular significance is the fact that a low echelon
informant can seldom furnish meaningful information. The higher the informant is in an organization such as AIM, the
more vulnerable we are to having a case dismissed and severe criticism directed at us because of the operation of an
informant who may have been privy to defense strategy.
Another aspect of this issue is the fact that the violent activities of the AIM movement appears to be spontaneous; and,
thus far at least, FBI informants have been unable to advise us in advance of these situations; thus we can say that
operating these informants has not so far at least prevented any of their violent activities.
I am instructing in this office that all AIM informants be immediately closed, and that we have no further contact with
them until after the trials are completed. Furthermore, we do not want informants coming into this territory from other
At the completion of the trials mentioned above, we will reassess our position in this matter and submit an appropriate
recommendation to FBIHQ.
ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED
HEREIN IS UNCLASSIFIED
Date 1/27/84 By sp5
(Special Agent in Charge)
REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES-THE AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERNAL SECURITY LAWS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY UNITED STATES SENATE
April 6, 1976
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
James O. Eastland, Mississippi, Chairman
John H. McClellan, Arkansas
Roman L. Hruska, Nebraska
Philip A. Hart, Michigan
Hiram L. Fong, Hawaii
Edward M. Kennedy, Massachussetts
Hugh Scott, Pennsylvania
Burch Bayu, Indiana
Strom Thurmond, South Carolina
Quentin N. Burdick, North Dakota
Charles McMathias, Jr., Maryland
Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia
William L. Scott, Virginia
John V. Tunney, California
James Abourezk, South Dakota
Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws
James O. Eastland, Mississippi, Chairman
John L. McClellan, Arkansas
Birch Bayh, Indiana
Strom Thurmond, South Carolina
William L. Scott
Richard L. Schultz, Chief Counsel
Alfonso L. Tarabochia, Chief Investigator
Robert J. Short, Senior Investigator
Mary E. Dooley, Research Director
David Martin, Senior Analyst
Resolved by the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, That the testimony of
Douglas Frank Durham, taken in executive session on April 6, 1976, be printed and made public.
James C. Eastland, Chairman
Approved, August 9, 1976
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice at 10:10 a.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building, Senator
James O. Eastland, chairman presiding.
Also present: Richard L. Schultz, chief counsel; Robert J. Short, senior investigator; David Martin
The CHAIRMAN. The subcommittee will come to order.
We are here today to receive testimony concerning the American Indian Movement. There is no question in the
minds of the great majority of Americans that our Indian citizens have many legitimate grievances and that there
is much that must be done to eliminate the inequities and improve the quality of their lives. Many people an
organizations are working to bring about the needed reforms, including the various tribal councils, the American
Indian Association, church groups which have a strong interest in the problem, and dedicated members of the Bureau
of Indian Affairs who realize that our treatment of our Indian minority over the years leaves much to be desired.
Several years ago there appeared on the scene a new organization, the American Indian Movement, which claimed to
speak for the majority of the American Indians. It attracted a lot of public attention, primarily as a result of
its violent occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building in Washington in the month of November 1972 and
its occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota for a period of 11 weeks beginning in February of 1973.
In the case of the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the American Indian Movement militants did $2 million
dollars worth of damage and made off with entire file cabinets of records-despite the fact that they had been given
assurance that there would be no prosecution and the participants would be given return fare to their reservations
or home addresses. The occupation of Wounded Knee, similarly, resulted in major damage to buildings in the town as
well as the death of two Indians and the wounding of three Federal agents.
As a result of the extensive publicity the American Indian Movement received from these episodes, the public
impression was that the American Indian Movement spoke for the masses of the Indian people. This, of course, is
simply not true. The elected tribal councils speak for the masses of the Indian people – and the record is clear
that the elected tribal councils look upon the American Indian Movement as a radical and subversive organization.
The purpose of today’s hearing is to try to establish whether there is, in fact, reason for believing that the
American Indian Movement is a radical subversive organization rather than an organization committed to improving
the lot of the American Indians. One of the questions that has to be answered is whether there are any demonstrable
ties between the American Indian Movement and the various Communist movements that exist in our country.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
The evidence presented to the Subcommittee, which was supported by extensive documentation, established the following basic facts about the movement:
1. THE TRUE DIMENSIONS OF AIM:
The American Indian Movement does not speak for the Americans Indians. It is a minority which, at the most, number several thousand followers. It is noteworthy that its most spectacular and most publicized activities have never involved more than several hundred people.
2. AIM IS A REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION:
It is a frankly revolutionary organization which is committed to violence, calls for the arming American Indians, has cached explosives and illegally purchased arms, plans kidnappings, and whose opponents have been eliminated in the manner of the Mafia. Some of AIM’s leaders and associated have visited Castro Cuba and/or openly consider themselves Marxist/Leninist.
3. FOREIGN TIES:
It has many foreign ties, direct and indirect – with Castro Cuba, with China, with the IRA, with the Palestine Liberation Organization, and with support organizations in various European countries.
4. DOMESTIC EXTREMIST TIES:
In the United States, it has maintained contact with and has received propaganda and other support from a large number of left extremist organizations, including the Weather Underground, the Communist Party, the Trotskyists, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Black Panther Party, Youth Against War and Fascism, the Indo-China Solidarity Committee, the Prisoners Solidarity Committee, etc.
5. AIM AND THE MEDIA:
AIM’s commitment to spectacular actions has resulted in massive media coverage. This coverage, while not always uncritical, has generally been sympathetic – perhaps because of the widespread tendency to convert sympathy for the plight of Indian people into sympathy for AIM, without asking certain essential questions. The sheer mass of the media coverage, moreover, has served to foster a widespread impression in government circles as well as among the general public – that AIM speaks for the great mass of the Indian people.
Regrettably, with rare exceptions, the media have not sought to moderate this impression by seeking out the views of the tribal leaders and the other legitimate leaders of the American Indian peoples.
6. SUPPORT FROM FEDERAL, CHURCH AND OTHER SOURCES:
Taking advantage of the massive public relations build-up they have received from the media, the American Indian Movement has been able to obtain many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of support from various offices of the Federal government and from a variety of religious organizations, Catholic and Protestant. Threats and the physical occupation of buildings have also been used as instruments of persuasion in promoting Federal and religious funding. AIM has also received substantial sums of money from business, from labor groups, and from private individuals.
7. FINANCIAL ABUSES:
The bulk of the money given to AIM by the United States government and by the churches has been used to radicalize the Indians, to stage confrontations like the occupation of Wounded Knee and the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., and to take care of the personal financial needs of the AIM leaders. Contrary to the representations of AIM in soliciting these funds, they have not been used, except to a very minor extent, to improve the lot of the American Indians.
In a postscript to his testimony, the witness informed the Subcommittee that, to his knowledge AIM has never published a financial statement.
8. THE UNDERCUTTING OF LEGALLY CONSTITUTED INDIAN AUTHORITY:
The supine attitude of government officials in
dealing with manifestations like the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the many hundreds of thousands
of dollars they have lavished on AIM for social programs that were never implemented, and the deferential – indeed,
almost obsequious – manner in which they have conducted their negotiations with representatives of AIM, have not
only strengthened AIM enormously, but have also served to undercut the prestige and authority of the tribal
chairmen and of the National Tribal Chairman’s Association. This was thesubject of a bitter complaint to
Secretary of the Interior, Roger Morton, from the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association on November 12, 1973.
THE CASE OF JUDGE NICHOL:
Important testimony was given concerning the prejudicial attitude of Federal Judge
Fred Nichol, who on September 19, 1974, dismissed the charges against American Indian Movement leaders Dennis
Banks and Russell Means. In March 1975, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had filed a
strongly worded motion of prejudice against Judge Nichol, asking that he disqualify himself from the remaining
Wounded Knee leadership trials. In the supporting affidavit, the U.S. attorney claimed that Judge Nichol often
expressed respect for the people who were involved in the Wounded Knee takeover, and that during the trial he
had attended a luncheon addressed by defense counsel William Kuntsler and had led a standing ovation for Kunstler
at the conclusion of his speech. The witness testified that in October 1973, Judge Nichol had driven Dennis Banks
and his attorney to his residence, where Judge Nichol and Mrs. Nichol entertained the guests with coffee and
cookies, and Mrs. Nichol was made any honorary member of the American Indian Movement.
The witness at this hearing, Mr. Douglas Durham, infiltrated the American Indian Movement under the instructions
of the FBI, won the confidence of Dennis Banks and Russell Means and the other leaders of the movement, and occupied
a series of high level positions in the organization. When Dennis Banks, after being indicted in connection with his
role in the Wounded Knee events, went into hiding in Canada, Mr. Durham was instructed to come to yellow Knife in
the Canadian Northwest Territories, “to get get a small plane and bring a lot of guns ammunition, and money.” An
experienced pilot, Durham flew Banks all over the United States in rented plans – that were never paid for,
according to the knowledge of the witness.
Describing his relationship with the American Indian Movement, Mr. Durham – a non-Indian who looks remarkably
like an Indian – said the following:
“My membership in the American Indian Movement began in March 1973, after visiting Wounded Knee for 1 day as a
photographer for a newspaper, ‘Pax Today.’ The trip to Wounded Knee was made with the knowledge and assistance
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Larry Bastocky, asked me to become familiar with the Des Moines,
Iowa chapter; assistant director of the Des Moines, Iowa, chapter of the American Indian Movement, and, if possible,
joint it. I was a member of the American Indian Movement for approximately 2 years and achieved the titles of public
relations director of the Des Moines, Iowa chapter; assistant director of the Des Moines chapter; National AIM pilot;
national security director; administrator of U.S. national offices of the American Indian Movement; personal bodyguard
to Dennis Banks; international charge d’affaires. During my 2 year tenure with the American Indian Movement, I collected
considerable information regarding its revolutionary activities, its financing, its association with other groups, its
plans for the bicentennial, the operational goals of National AIM and the personalities and methods of operation of the
national leaders of AIM. I organized and established the national office in St. Paul, Minnesota and traveled around the
United States with national leaders of the American Indian Movement as a national figure.”
Mr. Durham testified that, as a paid operative of the FBI, he received approximately $20,000 over a two-year period,
from March 1973 to March 1975 in expense money. The FBI had publicly acknowledged that Durham was a paid operative – and
they have also stated that threats against Durham’s life were made in the summer of 1975, based on his involvement with
the American Indian Movement. Mr. Durham has since testified publicly on behalf of the Department of Justice, in a trial
involving the leaders of AIM.
Mr. Durham was repeatedly and rigorously instructed by the FBI during the period of his association with AIM to avoid
putting himself in the posture of transmitting an confidential information relating to the legal defense of the AIM
THE ORIGINS OF AIM
The American Indian Movement was launched in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1968 by Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, and
George Mitchell, all Chippewa Indians from Minnesota. The witness confirmed AIM’s claim that a catalyst to its
formation was the inordinate number of Indian Americans in jail in the Minneapolis area – a number completely out
of proportion to the number of Indian residing in the area. Initially, according to the witness, AIM concerned
themselves primarily with the problem of getting Indians out of jail. As Mr. Durham put the matter: “They established
an AIM patrol that attempted to reach the scenes of disturbances in Indian areas prior to the police, or at least at
the same time the police arrived, to act as a mediator in negotiating the release on the scene of Indians being arrested
by the Minneapolis police.”
According to Mr. Durham, AIM “was involved in taking over the operation of the CCC program, funded by the OEO, in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. The assistance of the Attorney Douglas Hall and the Reverend Dr. Paul Boe was used to gain the
support within the CCC program (CCC stands for Citizens Community Center, a Minneapolis anti-poverty program set up in
1967) to operate the American Indian Movement…”
A fact sheet distributed by AIM in early 1974 claimed that AIM had played a role in more than 150 demonstrations prior
to November 1972. The first demonstration referred to was a “nationwide protest in 7 major cities in early 1970 against
BIA treatment of urban Indian people who leave the reservations under the Relocation Program, secured menial jobs
in the city, and then abandoned them.” The final paragraph in this leaflet describes AIM’s relationship with other
Indian groups and with the radical left. The paragraph reads:
“AIM stands to represent ALL Indians as a fact of Indian life in a free world.”
“AIM is regarded as a radical leftist movement; however, AIM’s goals are to represent itself as a peaceful movement trying
to get these things which have been promised to them. Historically it has been proven that the American Indian has been
treated inhumanely and now, because of AIM’s thrust for equality, the Indian is fighting for honor, ignored until Wounded
Knee. AIM is now looked to for direction by Left and Third World groups. In the words of Russell Means, ‘AIM represents
the only true revolutionary group, a sovereign people with a land base backed by treaties with the federal government.
The Indian people have 24,000-40,000 years experience on the Western Hemisphere. We should be able to tell people
with 250 years experience…'”
As Mr. Durham pointed out, the short range objectives publicized by AIM sound high-minded and reasonable. They
call for a program to better the Indian housing situation; another program directed toward the Indian youth; a
third program to encourage the employment of Indian Americans; a fourth program to educate industry in the area
of Indian culture and its effect on the Indians; a fifth program to improve the communcations between the Indian
people and the community; and finally, a program to educate the Indian citizen in his responsibility to the community.
When he was asked whether in his association with AIM he had seen any of these objective achieved, Mr Durham replied:
“Not that I can recall…I saw quite the contrary. I saw the Indian housing program which was number one, stopped on the
Wounded Knee Reservation when AIM took over Wounded Knee. The Indian youth program could be interpreted two ways. However,
the Indian youth gathered together in a militant manner and talked about passing out rifles and revolution. The positive
program for employment of Indian Americans is a definite farce. I heard Dennis Banks say that if you were striving for
employment, you had no business being in AIM.”
A confidential programmatic document distributed within AIM spoke more ambitiously about freeing “Indian people
throughout the Americas from white man’s oppression and racism, so as to create free Indian states that reflect
self-determination of free peoples…” The document called for:
“(a) dissolution of the BIA;
(b) establishment of the free Indian congress;
(c) re-establishment of reservation sovereignty and self-determination;
(d) establish and conduct negotiations with all nations of world for free trade and economic relations;
(e) establish of trade tariffs and interface with surrounding countries in the world.”
The confidential AIM program also placed its major emphasis on the education of the very young and the establishment of
AIM control over Indian schools. The program said under this heading:
“The major objective of the movement is to regain the young. Once the BIA is eliminated and individual tribal states are
created, schools will not be a major problem. However, until such time as this goal is realized, AIM must plan, support
and execute the following school activities:
(1) Prepare and release to local AIM chapters a ‘how-to-manual’ for founding Indian schools;
(2) Since most behavior characteristics are learned from the first 5 years, AIM should begin with pre-school elementary
(f) AIM national center to provide basic teaching aids such as reading, cultural materials and lore.”
THE TURN TOWARD MAJOR VIOLENCE
Asked about the series of violent actions in which AIM has been involved over the past four years, Mr. Durham replied:
“Most obviously the leadership condones this type of action. During Wounded Knee, as an example of their violence, they
hung a man from a cross to celebrate Easter Sunday.”
“They had been involved in the destruction of Custer, South Dakota, where the courthouse was fire-bombed and the
chamber of commerce was burned to the ground.”
“At the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it was an extremely violent situation with clubs and threats.”
“At Kenora, Ontario, Canada, there was shooting and threats of extreme violence.”
“I recall, in Des Moines, Iowa, they attempted and planned the kidnapping of Iowa Governor Robert Ray, which has to be
a little violent.”
“There was a murder in Los Angeles, California, in the fall of 1974 where a man was dragged from a cab in an AIM
guerrilla camp in Box Canyon, scalped, dismembered, and stuffed down a drain pipe; and the reaction of AIM was,
‘They should have shoved grass down the throat of that body.’ There were very grisly and mean events that transpired
since then; the assassination, or execution of the two FBI agents. Of those four indicted (in connection with the
shooting of the FBI agents) I personally knew three to be members of the American Indian Movement.”
In his testimony Mr.Durham elaborated on the violent actions and occupations in which the American Indian
Movement has been involved.
THE SEIZURE OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
Mr. Durham said that “a plethora of funds was established for the ‘Trail of Broken Treaties’ caravans to Washington,
which culminated in the seizure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in November of 1972. Despite the almost unbelievable
destruction they wrought within the building, (the total cost to the government of this incident, including both the
destruction and the cost of special police personnel and law enforcement officers, was estimated at two million dollars),
Mr. Durham said “the White House gave the occupants a letter recommending no prosecution for the actions and
$66,000 in cash – approximately six times the bus fare home.” The Chairman, in his opening remarks, made
reference to “entire file cabinets of records” which AIM removed from the Bureau of Indian Affairs – “despite
the fact that they had been given assurance that there would be no prosecution.” File cabinets are highly visible
items. They could not have been removed from the building without having been spotted by one or more of the numerous
law enforcement officers concentrated in the area. The question therefore arises whether someone in authority had
given the instruction that there was to be no police interference with members of AIM leaving the building, no
matter what they carried with them. This is a mystery that can and should be cleaned up.
CUSTER, SOUTH DAKOTA
A whole series of violent actions followed in the wake of the supine capitulation to AIM in its seizure of the Bureau
of Indian Affairs.
The first of these actions was the AIM-organized rioting in Custer, South Dakota, on February 6, 1973. Describing this
event and some of the things that happened inconsequence of it, Mr. Durham said:
“The Chamber of Commerce building was burned to the ground; the court house was firebombed and numbers of people
injured in the riot, including police officers.”
“In the latter part of August 1973, Banks was indicted by the Custer County grand jury for his involvement in the riot
of February 6. (Banks was already a fugitive in connection with his Wounded Knee indictment). He and Ron Petite; Ron’s
wife, Cheryl; Dennis’ wife, Kamook; Dennis’ son by a previous wife, D.J. Junior; Ron Petite’s infant child; Ray Slick;
and Linda Thomas drove to Yellowknife in Northwest Territory in Canada. I was contacted by both Ron Petite and Dennis
Banks, asking me to fly up north, provide them with money and a means of communication between their planned hideout
and the officers and attorneys of the American Indian Movement. I was given written communiques by Banks ordering me
to establish an underground railroad, ordering George Roberts in Los Angeles, California, to issue the press
communiques over his signature, and other orders. I assisted in flying Dennis Banks to a remote island where he remained
approximately 1 month. I was told to return to the United States and help in gathering his bond, which I did with the
assistance of Reverend John P. Adams, an important figure in the operation of AIM. In the early part of October 1973,
I was called upon to return Dennis Banks to the United States, after having raised his bond. This was accomplished with
a rented plane for which AIM later refused to pay the rental due.
Dennis Banks was convicted in the summer of 1975 and failed to appear for sentencing August 5, 1975, becoming a
fugitive from justice. During the time he was a fugitive, he was indicted by a Federal grand jury for a shootout
allegedly occurring in Ontario, Oregon, where he and Leonard Peltier, another fugitive, was allegedly stopped.
Banks was arrested January 24, 1976, in San Francisco and is there now fighting extradition. He was released on
$100,000 bond. The judge allowed 2 percent cash bond to be posted by actor Marlon Brando.”
Hard on the heels of the incident at Custer, South Dakota, there took place what was probably AIM’S most publicized
action, the occupation of the village of Wounded Knee.
Mr. Durham was ale to gain access to Wounded Knee as a photographer and correspondent for a small newspaper, ‘Pax
Today.’ After spending approximately five hours in Wounded Knee taking photographs, Durham returned to Des Moines,
Iowa, submitted the pictures and the report to the FBI. The FBI then asked him to join the local Des Moines chapter
of the American Indian Movement. This he did. Durham pointed out there was, at that time, considerable concern in
the FBI regarding potential violent activities in which the Des Moines chapter of AIM might become engaged. Statements
had reportedly been made regarding bombings, running guns, and other supplies into Wounded Knee by the Des Moines
chapter chairman, Harvey Major.
During some of the highlights of the Wounded Knee occupation, Durham testified:
“The village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and the Nation’s second largest
reservation was occupied on February 27, 1973, by members of the American Indian Movement – approximately
258 in total. Of the 258 AIM members and sympathizers occupying Wounded Knee, approximately half had been
employees of social welfare programs financed primarily by government grants. Present during the Wounded Knee
occupation were: Dr. Paul Boe and Reverend, John Adams, as well as members of the foreign press, including
Moscow. On Easter Sunday, during the occupation of Wounded Knee, AIM members hung a man from the cross in
full view of marshals and some members of the press. For approximately 6 hours the body was pummeled by
some of the occupants. During this time, churches had been defiled and the Reverend Ray McHue had been
beaten and his ribs broken. The Reverend Lansbury and his wife spent the night in trenches outside of
Wounded Knee with shots being fired over their heads. The Wounded Knee occupation lasted 71 days, after
which Dennis Banks became a fugitive and did not appear publicly until his $105,000 bond was obtained;
$85,000 of this bond came from the Iowa Methodist Conference. As a member of the American Indian Movement,
I was present and somewhat involved in obtaining this bond money.”
Durham said that of the 258 AIM member and sympathizers participating in the occupation, approximately 75% were
Indian and probably 25% non-Indian. He identified Vietnam Veterans Against the War as one of the non-Indian groups
participating in the occupation. One of the reasons given by the AIM occupiers for seizing the reservation, said
Durham, was they wanted to topple the elected government of tribal chairman, Richard Wilson. They were prepared
to use force to do so. They were will-armed, with M-16’s and AK-47’s. “They had erected bunkers and were building
Molotov cocktails, and dynamite bombs,” said Durham. “They had also constructed what appeared to be a large
anti-aircraft weapon that was really fake…even a child as young as, I was told, 12 years old, was running around
with a rifle taunting members of the press and attempting to intimidate them.”
Durham identified the leaders of the Wounded Knee action as “Carter Augustus Camp, a Pawnee Indian from Oklahoma;
Russell Charles Means, a part Sioux Indian from the Pine Ridge Reservation; Dennis James Banks, a Chippewa Indian from
‘Leech Lake’, Minnesota; Clyde Bellecourt, a Chippewa Indian from the White Earth Reservation; Pedro Bissonette, a
Sioux Indian from the Pine Ridge Reservation.”
As Mr. Durham pointed out, AIM admitted only a limited number of correspondents to Wounded Knee, and he himself
had to pull a few strings in order to get himself admitted as a photographer. One of the correspondents accepted
by the AIM directorate at Wounded Knee was Iona Andronov, of the ‘New Times’ in Moscow. Andronov wrote several
articles for ‘New Times’, (One of which is reprinted in the appendix to the record), making it clear that the
Soviet Union sided with the occupiers of Wounded Knee against the United States government. Subsequently, Mr.
Andronov sent a handwritten letter to the American Indian Movement (also reproduced in the appendix). The letter
began with the words: “Dear friends, I hope to see you again and write a few articles for the Soviet press about
your struggle.” It concluded, “I believe in your success and victory. With best wishes, Iona Andronov.”
Far more disturbing than the Soviet propaganda exploitation of the Wounded Knee incident – which was certainly
something to be expected – is the fact that AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee was, for all practical purposes,
financed by a series of grants of federal money. This was the subject of a carefully researched article in the
‘Detroit News’ of March 25, 1973, which is worth quoting in full:
“Indian Revolt Financed by Government Grant”
(By John E. Peterson)
Minneapolis – The Indian occupation of Wounded Knee, S.D., has been financed almost exclusively by federal money.
“The Indians who took over the small reservation town have depicted themselves as an oppressed minority group seeking
to focus national attention on a long list of grievances.”
“In point of fact, however, their actions appear to be the latest act in a play staged by a handful of militants and
paid for by public money.”
“An investigation by the Detroit News shows:
More than half of the 258 American Indian Movement members and sympathizers at Wounded Knee have been
employees of social welfare agencies financed primarily by federal grants.
AIM, far from being repressed by the Government, has been granted directly and indirectly more than $400,000
in federal funds since its founding in 1968. The bulk of that money, federal investigators say, has been used
in efforts to radicalize the American Indian, not improve his lot. AIM leaders, federal investigations reveal,
spent huge amounts of federal funds to stage the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs last fall and the
current confrontation at Wounded Knee.
Some leaders of AIM have histories of convictions for such crimes as burglary, strong-arm robberies and assaults.
Fewer than 20 of the Indian who took over Wounded Knee are Oglala Sioux, the tribe on whose reservation the
confrontation took place. An the tribal council – by 14-2 votes – repeatedly has asked the Federal Government to evict
the AIM group.
‘When AIM took over Wounded Knee, the Justice Department was all set to move in and make arrests, a highly placed
federal official said. But then AIM leaders threatened to call a press conference and disclosed exactly how much
financing they’ve had from the Government in recent months. That’s when the Justice Department backed off and tried
to play for standoff, hoping AIM would tire and leave voluntarily.
‘What’s happened is that AIM leaders have just dusted off and updated the old militant tactic of intimidating
government officials until they come through with grants. So far, it’s worked like a charm.’
“Last June 21, Government files show, AIM received a $113,000 grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity. Of that
amount, $60,000 was for ‘survival’ schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Milwaukee to ‘instill American Indian culture’
in Indian children of grade school age. The other $53,000 was for an Indian community center in Milwaukee.
Early last fall, OEO investigators were sent to investigate numerous complaints from local education officials in all
“What was found was ‘an almost total absence of any academic standards,’ and ‘a sustained effort to brainwash the
students into hating all non-Indian Americans, black as well as white,’ investigators said.
AIM leaders, the report noted, refused to provide any audit information on how the $113,000 has been spent.
AIM leaders also received $66,000 in ‘transportation money from the OEO as an inducement to leave the Bureau of Indian
Affairs which their followers systematically pillaged during a six-day takeover last fall in Washington.
‘That was about six times the amount required to buy them all bus tickets back home,’ said an OEO official, who said
he disagreed with the decision. ‘They were just handed the money in cash and no accounting was required.’
An OEO grant for an additional $67,000 – approved before the BIA takeover – was ordered frozen in a Minneapolis bank
before AIM leaders arrived back from Washington.
“AIM leaders Clyde Bellecourt and Dennis J. Banks, both Chippewas, used the announcement of that grant’s approval to
persuade the Upper Midwest American Indian Center (UMAIC) in Minneapolis to lend them nearly $30,000.
‘We lent them the money only because they offered the $67,000 grant as collateral, and we assumed they had it in
their pockets,’ said Mrs. Emily Peake, UMAIC’S director, a Chippewa and an spokeswoman for most the 22,000 American
Indians living in the Twin Cities area.
‘Of all the money AIM has conned out of the Federal Government, I’d be surprised if even a minute fraction ever
trickled down to our people who really need it,’ she said.
END OF ARTICLE FROM THE ‘DETROIT NEWS’
THE OCCUPATION OF THE FIRST CHURCH OF THE OPEN BIBLE AND OF THE UNITED METHODIST
CHURCH CONFERENCE HEADQUARTERS IN DES MOINES
Some of the methods used by AIM to raise money from church organizations were described in detail by Mr. Durham.
One day in March 1973, Durham visited Harvey Major, head of the Des Moines AIM Movement at his home. Major, he said,
was in his garage, painting signs saying, “AIM demands $50,000 reparations from the Church of the Open Bible.” He
informed Durham that AIM was going to occupy the First Church of the Open Bible and demand this $50,000 reparation
within 24 hours. The church had been selected, he said, first because it was wealthy, and second, because it had
give no money to AIM. Harvey had attended several church sessions, trying to obtain money from the church – but
Several days prior to Easter Sunday, a small group of AIM members and supporters occupied the lawn of the First
Church of the Open Bible, constructed tents, erected their signs demanding $50,000 reparations, and refused to
leave when asked by the police to do so. The leaders of the demonstration were Harvey Major and Aaron Two Elk.
Durham, who took part in the occupation, estimated that there were no more than about 12 individuals involved,
of whom only 3 or 4 were Indians. He said, however, that the papers were told that there were many more people
inside the tents and that the press dutifully reported it in this manner.
Written demands for $50,000 in reparations were then submitted to the officials of the church. The Reverend Frank
Smith, one the church’s ministers, issued a statement refusing to meet the demands and saying he would not be
blackmailed. He complained bitterly that officials of the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice,
who were then in Des Moines, had suggested that he accede to some of the demands.
Durham told the Subcommittee that the Community Relations official in question, Mr. Jesse Taylor of Chicago, then went
to other church officials in Des Moines and arranged a meeting between the heads, bishops and ministers of large
churches in Des Moines and the occupants of the American Indian Movement campsite on the Open Bible Church grounds.
This meeting was held several days later at the Young Women’s Christian Association in Des Moines. As a result of this
meeting, AIM received an initial grant of $3,000 toward the establishment of an American Indian Development Center in
Des Moines. The $3,000 was to be a down payment on a proposal calling for an annual expenditure of $36,000. In fact,
funding was finally granted for several months.
Commenting on the proposals submitted and what was done to implement these proposals, Mr. Durham said:
“The proposals submitted to the various church leaders and authorities indicated a desire to create development centers
for counseling, training Indians to become better able to cope with the non-Indian society in an urban area, when in
fact I know of no one, absolutely no one who was counseled to cope with the non-Indian society in the Des Moines, Iowa
branch, other than to increase their hatred and mistrust on non-Indian people, blacks as well as whites. They were
self-aggrandizing actions. The money was used to maintain the individual leaders in a manner far from that of
Mr. Durham made the point that as a result of the conference at the YMCA in Des Moines, the local Catholic charities
program provided the office space for the newly established American Indian Development Center, but that most of the
funding was provided by the Iowa Conference of United Methodist Church. He said that it appeared to him at the time
that the Methodist representatives had acceded to this donation voluntarily, because of their desire to identify
with what they apparently considered a civil rights problem.
Shortly after this incident, Mr. Ron Petite, a national office of the American Indian Movement, arrived in Des Moines.
Mr. Petite, a long-time friends of Dennis Banks, embarked on a dialogue with the Methodist churches in the Des Moines
area which, according to Durham, “resulted in some very ill feelings.” Durham said that on one occasion, Petite had
engaged in “a screaming debate over the phone with a Dr. Baskerville, the assistant to Bishop Thomas. After this debate,
Dr. Baskerville, said that at one point Petite “threatened to come over and work him over because he was not proving
enough money… At subsequent meetings held at Des Moines, Ron Petite issued threats and denouncements to many
of the religious leaders in the Des Moines, Iowa area, and in some instances, one instance in particular, it appeared
almost like a robbery. The door was guarded and the men, the officials representing the churches, were told they were
not going to leave until they had contributed, out of their pockets, directly, to a fund.
“So there was some coercion.”
The goals of the American Indian Movement as a result of this experience became much more ambitious in terms of
wheedling or coercing large sums of money from church organizations. In June of 1973, Durham attended a meeting
in Ron Petite’s apartment in Des Moines at which Petite said that the Methodist Church had not provided enough
money for the American Indian Development Center and that AIM should therefore go to the Methodist Church – the
church that is, that had provided the most money to date – and “create a scene.” An annual conference was
scheduled to take place at the Methodist Church headquarters. A few days prior to the conference, the American
Indian Movement occupied the lawns around the headquarters, pitched their tents and erected their signs. They
demanded $85,000 in bond money for Dennis Banks, and they said they would not leave until this request was granted.
The initial reaction of the church officials was to lock their doors against the demonstrators. However, after
some militant representations from Harvey Major and Ron Petite, the building was left open for the use of the
washroom facilities. Dr. M. Ellsworth Walker, Treasurer of the Iowa Annual Conference of the Methodist Church,
then sent out the following letter to the members of the encampment:
“June 6, 1973
To the members of the Indian Encampment:
Although we did not issue you an engraved invitation, we welcome you to the area surrounding the United Methodist
Headquarters building. Our facilities are your facilities.
Blessings to you all.
M. Ellsworth Walker”
This communication, which was delivered to the encampment within 20 minutes of the occupation, moved Ron Petite
to say: “We’ve got them running, I know we’ll get our money from them for Dennis Banks now.”
The church began then to send out fried chicken and other meals to the demonstrators.
Before the conference was over, the United Methodist Church voted to advance $85,000 in bond money for Dennis Banks.
THE OCCUPATION OF THE GRIMES STATE OFFICE BUILDING
The occupation of the Grimes State Office building in Des Moines on August 22, 1973, was in reality a compromise,
engineered by Doug Durham, as an alternative to Ron Petite’s proposal that they kidnap the Governor of the State
of Iowa, Robert D. Ray. Mr. Durham told the story in these words:
“Ron Petite had become increasingly upset due to the lack of funding that was submitted by the churches. He
advocated bombing a church on the south side of Des Moines. He had had some confrontations with the Governor
of the State of Iowa, Robert D. Ray, and had advocated kidnapping the Governor to create sympathy for his
demands. He had had a public confrontation with the Governor at the State fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa, and
it was carried in the papers, showing the Governor with an excessive number of State highway patrolmen as
bodyguards because of the threats he had received from Mr. Petite.
“One night Ron Petite called Harvey Major and myself over to his apartment at 253 Franklin and said the next
morning we are going to kidnap the Governor and hold him right in his office at the State capitol.
“And he said, ‘Doug, you are going to lead it,’ and he said, ‘I’ll be in Newton, Iowa, at the River View Prison
Release Center, and after you have the Governor kidnapped you will call me.’ I knew that nobody would go along
with this, so, the only other choice I had at the instant was to convince him that it would be counterproductive,
and instead to hold an armed press conference in the Grimes State Office Building, occupying the superintendent
of public instruction’s office. He finally relented, and it was agreed the next day that we would seize and empty
the Grimes State Office Building, and hold an armed press conference, and forego the plan for kidnapping the
Durham explained that by “armed press conference” he meant a conference in which the American Indian Movement
participants would present themselves with loaded weapons and bullets and say they were prepared to die for
the occupation of the building until their demands were met – this, in order to portray to the public an armed
occupation that, by its very nature, would result in more press coverage for AIM.
The Grimes State Office Building is a two-story building having two wings, with approximately 15,000 to 20,000
square feet on each floor. It is located in downtown Des Moines, near the Capitol. At approximately 11:00 a.m.
on August 22, 1973, ten AIM members bearing arms, among them Doug Durham, occupied the Grimes State Office
Building and ordered people out of it. A set of 12 demands to Govenor Ray, dealing largely with prison
conditions, were given to the press. The demands were immediately transmitted to Governor Ray, who responded
in a letter stating that “some of them were ridiculous, some of them more reasonable and had been met prior to
demands being made, and that they were working on other programs along these lines.”
Three hours after the occupation began, it was all over, and the 10 armed occupiers had all submitted peacefully
to the arrest. Mr. Durham told the Subcommittee that the decision to submit to arrest was a collective decision,
made after being approached by Captain E. J. Dickenson, of the Iowa state patrol, who told the demonstrators
that if they would not submit to arrest, the police would come in to get them. As Durham told the story:
“I called a rollcall vote, and twice received indications that they would not give up. I went back into
conference with them and expressed the opinion to them that we did not have the operational advantage, and
that we had obtained our goals.
“I was a little concerned at that point. They finally agreed to submit to arrest, and we all were arrested and
released on bond within hours afterwards.”
Dennis Banks, who was in South Dakota when the occupation commenced, immediately boarded a plane for Des Moines.
He arrived after the occupation was ended and the 10 arrested AIM members had been bonded out. When met Doug
Durham, he said to him, “Good job, Doug. Great job. You put us on the map here. Your proved you can pick up
a rifle. You are a leader.”
A few days after his arrival, Dennis Banks had a meeting with Governor Ray, arranged by Ron Petite. Durham,
who was present for part of the meeting, said its true purpose:
“was to create the impression that Dennis Banks was the peace-bringing mediator who would solve these types
of problems, if needed, in any future situations. It was a program and plan that I saw used and employed by
Banks throughout the rest of my tenure with the American Indian Movement. The newspapers portrayed Banks then
as the peacemaker, a reasonable, peace-loving man.”
Banks apparently guaranteed that there would be no violent actions or seizures. The Govenor, for his part,
indicated that he would work with AIM as much as possible. As Mr. Durham put it, “it set Dennis Banks up as
a state recognized mediator in Indian problems, with much adulation by the press.”
THE SEIZURE OF ANISHINABE PARK
In the early summer of 1974, AIM jumped the American-Canadian border to stage a spectacular seizure of
Anishinabe Park in Kenora, Ontario, and later to occupy a government building and stage a riot on the stairs
of the Canadian parliament in Ottawa, Canada.
The trial of Dennis Banks and Russell Means for their involvement in the Wounded Knee occupation began in
January 1974 and dragged on for a number of months. While the trial was still going on, Dennis Banks
traveled to Kenora, Ontario to meet with Louis Cameron, another member of the American Indian Movement in
that area. Two weeks after Banks had traveled to Ontario, Anishinabe Park in Kenora was seized by a group
calling themselves the Ojibway Warriors Society. The Society was, in reality, mostly members of the Amerian
Indian Movement – some, in fact, were Wounded Knee veterans. The Ojibway Warriors Society claimed that the
park should have been returned to them under the benefits of Treaty 3 of 1873, that it was their property
and was taken illegally, any by way of reinforcing their demand, they began to build Molotov cocktails in
a very demonstrative manner.
The occupation was attended by members of the Communist Party of Canada, Marxixt-Leninist, including the
leader of the CPC, Vern Harper. The CPC openly boasted in a statement to the “Toronto Globe and Mail” that
they had been involved in the occupation and had helped to fund it. (The Communist Pary to Canada, Marxist-
Leninist is a Maoist organization – one of the stronger Maoist organizations in the Western world – whose
members openly wear Mao buttons. It is not to be confused with the Communist Party of Canada, which follows
the Moscow line. In his testimony, Mr. Durham, on page 65, spoke of the Communist party of Canada,
Marxist-Leninist. However, on page 7 he referred to it simply as the Communist Party of Canada. In the
interest of accuracy, the corrections is made here).
As Mr. Durham put the matter, the Anishinabe occupation was another one of those instances where Banks
initiated actions – and then arranged to be called to act as a mediator in achieving a peaceful settlement.
Dennis Banks, accompanied by Doug Durham, were summoned to Kenora by the Crown Attorney of Canada, Mr. Ted
Burton, to mediate or negotiate a peacefull settlement with the Ojibway Warriors Society. As Mr. Durham
observed, “in reality, this was AIM negotiating with AIM.” Mr. Burton provided transportation from the
international border to Kenora in a government aircraft and paid Banks and Durham $928.00 for their help.
This included food for the warriors in the park.
An agreement was reached that the arms would be turned over to responsible government authorities and
that there would be negotiations concerning the problem of the transfer of title. Mr. Durham related that
during the negotiation in Kenora with government officials, he had nudged Banks and whispered to him,
“Dennis, what are you going to do about the guns? You’re not going to hand them over?” In reply, Banks
had given Durham a handwritten note reading, “The arms will be hidden and kept inside the park.” (This
handwritten note is reproduced in the appendix to the record.) The weapons were, accordingly, buried,
together with the bulk of the Molotov cocktails. “Approximately four old rusty rifles and shotguns were
turned over in front of the press,” said Durham, “and I received the honor of throwing in approximately
3 or 4 of at least 30 Molotov cocktails that has been assembled in the park.
At a point where negotiations were concluded, the principals in the occupation decided to organize a
caravan and move to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. There they occupied a government building and
staged a riot on the steps of Parliament. Officials of the Communist Party of Canada, Marxist-Leninist,
were present at both the occupation and the riot. Durham informed the Subcommittee that he was present
during the occupation of the building in Ottawa and that “met with members of the Canadian Mounted
Police and Ottawa Police in an attempt to establish better communications between the occupants of
the government building and law enforcement officials so as to help prevent any recurrence of violence.”
Apparently some of the members of the Canadian AIM were disturbed by the adverse publicity resulting
from the open identification of the Communist Party of Canada, Marxist-Leninist, with AIM’s actions.
Mr. Durham testified:
“Mr. Ed Burnstick, the national director of Canadian AIM, issued a statement deploring any
identification of Communist Party causes with the Indian causes. He said, ‘We deplore any identification
of Indian causes with the Communists.’ This was in the summer of 1974 and in response to some dissension
from the Indian people because of the presence of the Communist Party of Canada. Less than a year later,
as evidence in the May 25 issue of the Berkeley Barb, Ed Burnstick met with the Provisional Revolutionary
Government of Vietnam to celebrate their common victory over imperialism and the United States Government.”
AIM AND THE ARMING OF AMERICAN INDIANS
AIM members had repeatedly borne arms – and sometimes used them – in their demonstrations and occupations.
In a statement issued in 1973, AIM official Ron Petite urged Indians across the nation to take up arms,
and to carry them at all times. The statement was covered in the following item which appeared in the
“Des Moines Tribune” of August 28, 1973:
Petite Urges Indians to Carry Arms
An official of the militant American Indian Movement (AIM) here has urged Indians across the nation to
take up arms.
Saying he was instructed to speak on AIM’s behalf, Ron Petite of Des Moines called on American Indians
to bear firearms ‘at all times to protect ourselves and our families.’
Petite, AIM’s Midwest national field director, spoke to newsmen only hours after the wounding of AIM
leader Clyde Bellecourt in a shooting on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Petite disclaimed report that Carter Camp, AIM’s president, allegedly shot Bellecourt during a meeting
a meeting on the Sioux reservation.
Camp was arrested Monday night in Valentine, Neb., and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on an
Indian reservation. The same charge was filed against Camp’s brother, Craig, and Leroy Cassodes. They
were being sought.
‘Blaming the shooting on Carter Camp is a conspiracy by outside sources to kill two birds with one
stone,’ Petite said.
* * *
Petite said he received authorization by telephone from Banks to speak for AIM and to urge Indians to
carry weapons. Under questioning, Petite failed to offer specifics about the call to arms.”
Durham testified that a “social understanding” grant of $6,250 had been used to illegally purchase a
quantity of high-powered semi-automatic rifles, some of them of Czechoslovak manufacture. These weapons,
he said, and been purchased on the West Coast of Canada by AIM member Nogeeghick Aquash, carried across
Canada by sympathetic groups, and them smuggled across the border near Benton Harbor. Durham said that
he had personally seen some 15 of the rifles purchased in Dennis Banks’ apartment in Magnolia Court,
East St. Paul, “and later, supposedly, used at the occupation of the Alexian Brothers Novitiate in
Mr. Durham also described in detail, with supporting documents, AIM’s plans for an underground railroad