Banks, Dennis James

Banks, Dennis James, 1937–2017, Native American civil-rights activist, b. Leech Lake Reservation, Minn. Of Ojibwa (Chippewa) heritage, he helped found the American Indian Movement (1968) to fight for indigenous rights. Banks was a leader in the six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. (1972), and was prominent in the 71-day armed occupation of Wounded Knee, S.Dak. Although he and Russell Means were acquitted of assault and riot charges afterward, Banks was found quilty (1975) of similar charges arising from a 1973 Custer, S.Dak., protest. After jumping bail, he found refuge first in California (1976) and then (1983) on a New York reservation. In 1984 he returned South Dakota and served 14 months before he was paroled. He subsequently was a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge Reservation; he also appeared in films and documentaries and was the 2016 vice-presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom party.

See his memoir (2005).

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