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3.1.6 Connection to Other Minorities

AIM’s leaders spoke out against similar disadvantages the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement were opposed to. AIM leaders talked about high unemployment, slum housing, and racist treatment, fought for treaty rights and the reclamation of tribal land, and advocated on behalf of urban Indians whose situations bred illness and poverty. They opened the K-12 Heart of the Earth Survival School in 1971, and in 1972, mounted the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington, D.C. They took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), in protest of its policies, and demanded reforms. With its provocative events and advocacy for Indian rights, AIM attracted scrutiny from the FBI and Department of Justice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used paid informants to report on AIM’s activities and its members.[12] In February, 1973 AIM leader Russell Means as well as others took over a small Indian community of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. They were protesting because of its supposedly corrupt government. When FBI agents were dispatched to remove the AIM occupiers, a standoff ensued. Through the resulting siege that lasted for 71 days, two people were killed, twelve wounded, and twelve hundred arrested. Wounded Knee was a seminal event, drawing worldwide attention to the plight of American Indians. AIM leaders were later tried in a Minnesota court and, after a trial that lasted for eight months, were acquitted of wrongdoing.