Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vernon Bellecourt Passes

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Vernon Bellecourt


October 15, 2007
5:00 PM
1515 East 23rd Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 16, 2007
Circle of Life School
White Earth, Minnesota

White Earth, Minnesota

For further information contact Clyde Bellecourt at 612-251-5836

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AIM Leader Vernon Bellecourt Dies at 75
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vernon Bellecourt, a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement who fought against the use of American Indian nicknames for sports teams, died Saturday his brother said. He was 75.

Bellecourt died at Abbott Northwestern Hospital of complications of pneumonia, according to Clyde Bellecourt, a founding member of the militant American Indian rights group.

Just before he was put on the respirator, Vernon Bellecourt joked that the CIA had finally gotten him, his brother said.

"He was willing to put his butt on the line to draw attention to racism in sports," his brother said.

Vernon Bellecourt — whose Objibwe name WaBun-Inini means Man of Dawn — was a member of Minnesota's White Earth band and was an international spokesman for the AIM Grand Governing Council based in Minneapolis.

Clyde Bellecourt helped found AIM as a militant group in 1968 and Vernon Bellecourt soon became involved, taking part in the 1973 occupation of the town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. He was present only briefly during the 71-day standoff with federal agents, serving mostly as a spokesman and fundraiser, Clyde Bellecourt said.

He was active in the campaign to free AIM activist Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of killing two FBI agents during a shootout in 1975 on the Pine Ridge reservation.

He was also involved as a negotiator in AIM's 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington as part of the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan.

In recent years, Bellecourt had been active in the fight against American Indian nicknames for sports teams as president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media.

He was arrested in Cleveland during the 1997 World Series and again in 1998 during protests against the Cleveland Indians' mascot, Chief Wahoo. Charges were dropped the first time and he was never charged in the second case.

After Wounded Knee, Vernon Bellecourt became a leader of AIM's work abroad, meeting with presidents such as Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his brother said. He said they plan to list them as honorary pallbearers.

Clyde Bellecourt said his brother had been in Venezuela about four weeks ago to meet with President Hugo Chavez to discuss Chavez' program for providing heating assistance to American Indian tribes. He fell ill around the time of his return, Clyde Bellecourt said.


Blogger Lyle Daggett said...

In February 2003, on a Saturday, the weekend when millions of people worldwide marched in protest of the imminent Bush administration war against Iraq, Vernon Bellacourt was one of the speakers at the antiwar demonstration in Minneapolis.

Somewhere around 8,000-10,000 people took part -- not a huge number compared to the half million in some cities, though not bad considering we walked a couple of miles in 20 degree weather. At the end of the march, we gathered in a park to listen to several speakers, one of whom was Vernon Bellacourt.

This was shortly after Tom Ridge (the Homeland Security chief clown) had come out publicly suggesting that people protect themselves from biological attack with plastic wrap and duct tape.

Bellacourt, same as the other speakers, lambasted the Bush people and the corporations that fund them for their war plans. Then at the end of his speech, he led the crowd in a chant of "Duct tape Bush! Duct tape Bush!" which brought much laughter and applause.

A cold, somewhat windy day that day. Sky blue though somewhat hazy with high clouds blowing through. Near the park, the enormous domed Basilica of St. Mary sounded their astonishing harmonic bells just as we got to the park, and, an hour later, as the event was ending and we made our way to bus stops, the bells sounded again.

15/10/07 21:59  

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