Friday, October 19, 2007

AIM leader passes on

Vernon Bellecourt, who fought to restore land and dignity to Native Americans and against the use of Indian nicknames for sports teams as a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), died Oct. 13 of complications of pneumonia at a Minneapolis hospital. He was 75.

Since leaving behind careers as a hair stylist and real estate agent and joining his brother in AIM in the 1970s, Mr. Bellecourt had been in the forefront of the movement to ensure that treaties between Native American tribes and the U.S. government would be fulfilled. He was president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media and principal spokesman for AIM.

He was involved in numerous demonstrations to bring attention to his causes, including the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington and the 1992 Super Bowl rally to protest the name of Washington's football team.


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