Clyde Bellecourt
Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder or the American Indian Movement, speaks on Jan. 26, 2018, at Minneapolis City Hall, in Minneapolis. (Amy Forliti/AP/Shutterstock)

Civil Rights Leader Clyde Bellecourt, Co-Founder of the American Indian Movement, Dies at the Age of 85

On a sad day for the country’s Native American community, news broke on Jan. 11 that civil rights leader Clyde Bellecourt had died.

Brad Dress of The Hill reported that Bellecourt’s son Wolf confirmed on Minnesota Public Radio that his dad had died from prostate cancer at the age of 85.

As the co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Dress said, “Bellecourt’s death was mourned by many in the Native American community, including Lisa Bellanger, the current leader of AIM. 

“I really wouldn’t be who I am now without him,” Bellanger told CBS Minnesota. “AIM created an awakening on a national level of our people.”

In a statement on Twitter, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said: “Today, we lost a civil rights leader who fought for more than a half-century on behalf of Indigenous people in Minnesota and around the world.”

Bellecourt died just over a year after the death of the other co-founder of AIM, Eddie Benton-Banai. Together, the two men formed the activist group in Minnesota in 1968. Within years, it had grown into a national movement and helped shape some of the most important government policies impacting Native American life in the U.S.

“Bellecourt was a fierce advocate for equality and justice, leading AIM as it protested police brutality and a lack of opportunities for Indigenous people,” Dress reported. “He led the group through 1972’s Trail of Broken Treaties march in Washington, D.C., and the 1992 protest of the Super Bowl over the Washington Football Team’s former name, which he said was a racist slur against Native Americans.”

Dress added that Bellecourt was there during some of AIM’s more difficult times, such as when the group didn’t agree on how to best challenge the government. 

“The more radical side launched the 1973 protest at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which turned violent and led to the deaths of two people,” Dress reported.

Born in 1936 in northern Minnesota’s White Earth Indian Reservation, Bellecourt and his family belong to the Ojibwe tribe, one of the largest Native American tribal organizations in the United States.

In a 2016 interview with Dress, Bellecourt reflected on the significance of the American Indian Movement and the work he had achieved. 

“[Native Americans] had been beaten down so far we didn’t think nothing could change,” Bellecourt said. “[But] we proved to America that we weren’t enemies.” 

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

Walmart interior

Black Corrections Officer Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting in Walmart Claims Store Employees Racially Profiled Him 

Despite Walmart’s ongoing commitment to diversity as an organization, employees at one store in Georgia have been accused of racially profiling one of their customers. Monique Beals of The Hill reported that “David Conners, a Clayton County corrections officer, was stopped and handcuffed by a Fayetteville police officer while he…

Walgreens exterior

Walgreens Planning Virtual Summit To Promote Supplier Diversity

National pharmaceutical giant Walgreens (No. 39 on the DiversityInc Top 50 list) has announced an upcoming supplier diversity summit designed to help the country’s numerous diverse businesses and entrepreneurs promote their businesses and offerings.  Business news site Retail Info Systems (RIS) reported that the virtual event, scheduled for April 5th…

Shane Brown

Las Vegas Police Sued for Jailing Black Man Using an Arrest Warrant Meant for a White Man With a Similar Name

In a case combining mistaken identity, incredibly poor judgment and racial profiling, Las Vegas police are accused of “confusing” a 23-year-old Black man for a white man twice his age simply because they share a similar name. And now that wrongfully detained man is filing suit against the police department…

Olivia Munn

AAPI Forum With Actress Olivia Munn To Discuss Anti-Asian Discrimination Hit with Racist ‘Zoom Bomb’

An online gathering of Asian American women and their allies to talk about anti-Asian discrimination felt the damage firsthand when a racist internet troll attacked their meeting. Leah Asmelash of CNN reported that the “virtual gathering of high-profile Asian American creators, including actress Olivia Munn, became the subject of their…

Boeing CEO David Calhoun Provides ESG and Supply Chain Update in Message to Employees

Originally published at boeing.mediaroom.com. Boeing Company ranked No. 17 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun shared the following message with employees addressing the company’s fourth-quarter results: As we share our fourth-quarter results, I want to thank you for your hard work and…

Cox Communications logo on screen.

Cox on 5 Things To Not Compromise in 2022

Originally published at cox.com. Cox Communications ranked No. 32 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   As you jump into a new year, you may have a list of resolutions you plan to work toward. From short-term goals like reading one book per month to long-term…