AIM has been committed to improving conditions faced by Native peoples. They founded institutions to address needs, including the Heart of The Earth School, Little Earth Housing, International Indian Treaty Council, AIM StreetMedics, American Indian Opportunities and Industrialization Centre (one of the largest Indian job training programs), KILI radio, and Indian Legal Rights Centres.
In 1970, several members of AIM, including Dennis Banks and Russell Means, travelled to Mt. Rushmore. They converged at the mountain in order to protest the illegal seizure of the Sioux Nation’s sacred Black Hills by the United States Federal Government. The protest brought the issues of the American Indian Movement to the attention of the media.
In 1972 at Gordon, Nebraska, an American Indian, Raymond Yellow Thunder was murdered by two white men, Leslie and Melvin Hare. After their trial, the Hares received the minimal sentence of manslaughter. Members of AIM went to Gordon to protest the unjust sentencing. In the winter of 1973, Wesley Bad Heart Bull was stabbed to death at a bar by a white male, Darrell Schmidt. The offender was jailed, but was quickly released on a $5000 bond. He was charged with second degree manslaughter. In protest of the unjust charges, a group of American Indian Movement members travelled to Custer, South Dakota. AIM leaders, Dennis Banks, Russell Means and David Hill held negotiations with the judge in the case, but the talks were not successful. In response to this, the Custer Chamber of Commerce building, two patrol cars, and a sign were burned down. Many of the AIM demonstrators were jailed due to the protest.