Dennis Banks, co-founder of AIM, the American Indian Movement, died on October 29, 2017. His family says that he started his journey to the Spirit World on the evening of that day. He was in his 80th year.
Dennis Banks is remembered for having organized, with AIM in a coalition of 8 indigenous nations, the 1972 “Trail of Broken Treaties.” They converged on Washington, DC, with 500 followers to protest Indian living conditions and lost treaty rights. They occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs for nearly a week, reading and confiscating documents that were later turned over to the UN (in 1977). There they formed the basis for the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In 1973, Dennis Banks participated in the occupation of Wounded Knee and in 1978 he was part of a group that initiated “The Longest Walk” a traditional and spiritual journey from Alcatraz in San Francisco to Washington DC. Aspects of the longest walk are still celebrated every year.
In February of 2006 I met Dennis Banks at a screening of the film: Alcatraz is not an Island at the Roxie in San Francisco. It’s a documentary on the 18 months Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island that began in November 1969.
Dennis Banks was in San Francisco preparing for the sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz to mark the beginning of the 2006 Longest Walk. I’m grateful that he allowed me to record him in February 2006. And I hope that his understanding of walking and journey taking has meaning for you listening today – now that Dennis Banks has begun his own journey into the spirit world.