It appears that different factions of the American Indian Movement (AIM) have released statements either condemning or supporting Ward Churchill, in equally vehement terms.
First this, from the AIM Grand Governing Council in Minneapolis:
The American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council representing the
National and International leadership of the American Indian Movement once
again is vehemently and emphatically repudiating and condemning the
outrageous statements made by academic, literary and Indian fraud, Ward
Churchill in relationship to the 9-11 tragedy in New York City that
claimed thousands of innocent people's lives.
Churchill's statement that these people deserved what happened to them,
and calling them little Eichmanns, comparing them to Nazi war criminal
Adolf Eichmann, who implemented Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate
European Jews and others, should be condemned by all.
The sorry part of this is Ward Churchill has fraudulently represented
himself as an Indian, and a member of the American Indian Movement, a
situation that has lifted him into the position of a lecturer on Indian
activism. He has used the American Indian Movement's chapter in Denver to
attack the leadership of the official American Indian Movement with his
misinformation and propaganda campaigns.
Ward Churchill has been masquerading as an Indian for years behind his
dark glasses and beaded headband. He waves around an honorary membership
card that at one time was issued to anyone by the Keetoowah Tribe of
Oklahoma. Former President Bill Clinton and many others received these
cards, but these cards do not qualify the holder a member of any tribe. He
has deceitfully and treacherously fooled innocent and naïve Indian
community members in Denver, Colorado, as well as many other people
worldwide. Churchill does not represent, nor does he speak on behalf of
the American Indian Movement.
New York's Hamilton College Kirklands Project should be aware that in
their search for truth and justice, the idea that they have hired a fraud
to speak on Indian activism is in itself a betrayal of their goals.
Dennis J. Banks, Ojibwa Nation
Chairman of the Board
American Indian Movement
Nee Gon Nway Wee Dung, aka, Clyde H. Bellecourt, Ojibwa Nation
National Executive Director
American Indian Movement
WaBun-Inini, aka, Vernon Bellecourt, Ojibwa Nation
Executive Committee Member
Director Council on Foreign Relations
American Indian Movement
And now this, from the American Indian Movement of Colorado:
Colorado AIM Press Release
1 FEBRUARY 2005
THE AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT (AIM) OF COLORADO CONFIRMS ITS SUPPORT OF WARD CHURCHILL AS A MEMBER OF OUR LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
COLORADO AIM CONDEMNS RACIST ATTACKS AGAINST CHURCHILL
Dr. Tink Tinker (303) 229-7756 — Elder’s Council representative
Colorado AIM — 303-871-0463
The Elder’s Council and the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement (AIM) of Colorado confirm our support for Ward Churchill as a member of our chapter, and as a member of the Leadership Council of Colorado AIM. Colorado AIM further condemns the transparent, racist attacks against Churchill by those who seek to silence alternative voices. While Churchill‘s particular statements about events of September 11, 2001 were his personal views, his broader critical analysis of U.S. domestic and foreign policy is consistent with Colorado AIM’s perspective.
Colorado AIM is one of the largest and most active AIM chapters in the United States. Our strength, power and authority springs from our spirituality, from the example of our ancestors, and from the members of our community who embrace our principles.
We neither recognize, nor do we accept, the dictates of any person or persons who pretend to speak for us. Any person or entity that purports to speak on behalf of Colorado AIM other than our Elder’s Council or the Leadership Council, is being dishonest. Each AIM chapter is independent and autonomous, and our authority emerges from the voice of the people in our community, and we support Ward Churchill.
Ward Churchill has been an important member and leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) of Colorado since at least 1984. His analysis of U.S. law and policy has been an essential tool in educating both indigenous and non-indigenous people on the history and the current circumstances of native peoples in the Americas. Ward has been tireless in his defense of indigenous peoples’ aspirations for freedom and justice around the world, and we applaud him for his numerous contributions.
Colorado AIM is painfully familiar with racist attacks against our movement, and against individuals in our movement, of which this is simply the most recent. We do not have to agree with every statement, or with every position that members of our chapter take in order to rally to their support when they are subject to an unprincipled, anti-Indian lynch mobs.
Churchill is not under attack because of a couple of statements that he made about the events of September 11, 2001. He is under attack because he has exposed the pain and the suffering caused by U.S. domestic and foreign policy. He does so without apology, and from the perspective of an indigenous scholar. He is under attack by racists who would prefer to silence indigenous voices altogether, and who would erase the history of indigenous peoples from the memory of the Western Hemisphere.
Our view of Ward Churchill is not through the lens of a few sentences taken out of context for calculated purposes. Our view is of an indigenous man who has devoted decades of his life to the defense of indigenous peoples’ self-determination and freedom.
The fact is not lost on us that the attacks on Churchill began immediately after the acquittal of him and others in the Columbus Day trials in Denver. Colorado AIM is proud of the actions of Churchill and the other Columbus Day resisters. We will continue our efforts to remove the slave-trading, Indian killer Columbus as a national hero, and we will continue with our numerous other initiatives to promote indigenous peoples’ freedom.
We are especially mindful of Governor Bill Owens’ hypocritical statements condemning Churchill. By making such statements, Owens takes his place along side other racist governors such as John Evans, one of the main instigators of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. Just this past fall, Owens had the audacity to refer to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people as “blackmailers” and “extortionists” for their economic development plan in Colorado. Now, he is attacking one of the few tenured American Indian professors in the state, using such McCarthyist claims that Churchill is “un-American” and a “terrorist defender.” Owens should immediately apologize to Churchill, and should keep his uniformed and ignorant statements to himself.
We also call on the Board of Regents for the University of Colorado to respect their own rules on academic freedom, and to affirm Ward Churchill‘s right to speak openly and freely as a scholar and a freethinker, and to continue his duties as one of the few indigenous academics in the University of Colorado system.
(Here’s some info on the Columbus Day trial from Indian Country Today, Jan. 29.)
The truly sad, ironic and frightening thing about all this is that it is redolent of the AIM factionalism of the early 1970s that the FBI successfully exploited in COINTELPRO–as documented in Churchill’s own book, Agents of Repression.
See our last post on the Churchill affair.