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3.1.12 The 2000’s

In April 2003, AIM chapters met at a conference with the founder of the Centre for the SPIRIT (Support and Protection of Indian Religions and Indigenous Traditions) to discuss plans to protect and maintain Native American religious rights. In June of that year, United States and Canadian tribes joined together internationally to pass the “Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality.” SPIRIT teamed up with the AIM to declare war against all “plastic Indians.” They felt they were being exploited by those marketing the sales of replicated Native American spiritual objects and impersonating sacred religious ceremonies as a tourist attraction. AIM delegates are working on a policy to require tribal identification for anyone claiming to represent Native Americans in any public forum or venue.

In February 2004, AIM gained more media attention by marching from Washington D.C. to Alcatraz Island. This was one of many occasions when Indian activists used the island as the location of an event, since their occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. Their 2004 march was in support of Leonard Peltier, whom they felt was wrongly imprisoned and who has become a symbol of spiritual and political resistance for Native Americans.

In December 2008, a delegation of Lakota Sioux including Talon Becenti delivered a declaration of secession from the United States to the U.S. State Department. Citing many broken treaties by the U.S. government in the past, and the loss of vast amounts of territory originally awarded in those treaties, the group announced its intentions to form a separate nation within the U.S. known as the Republic of Lakotah.