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Celebrating 50th Anniversary of Wounded Knee occupation

Ira Colhoff leads the Grand Entry at the 50th Anniversary of Wounded Knee 1973 Liberation Wacipi held at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee (Photo by Christopher A. Piña)

“AIM did one good thing. It gave Indian’s their identity back. The kids got their Lakota spirituality back as well as something to be proud of. AIM came in with long braids and were proud of who they were. The culture and the spirituality showed the children leadership. The children looked up to AIM members as if they were heroes” – Geraldine Janis, Interview 1998


For many tribal members, February 27 will forever be known as Liberation Day—the anniversary of the 1973 American Indian Movement (AIM) occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Prior to the start of the occupation, Janis and a group of women on Pine Ridge were rallying momentum against a tribal official they accused of being corrupt and in the lap of the federal government. AIM was called in to hear the concerns of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization and soon went to take a stand at Wounded Knee that catapulted Indigenous resistance to global concern. Two hundred Lakȟóta activists and AIM members began an occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, that would end up lasting 71 days.

During the occupation, Native activists would bring larger attention to the histories of broken treaties between the United States and tribal nations and contemporary economic, social, and health disparities affecting Indian Country, as well as solidifying AIM’s position among Black, Gay and Lesbian, Chicano, Women’s, and Disability groups in the larger Civil Rights movement.

While AIM members such as Russell Means and Dennis Banks have received more media attention over the years, the women members of AIM were integral to the success of treaty negotiations for the occupation.

To commemorate their connection to the occupation and the larger strategies and achievements of AIM, the Warrior Women Project an oral history, contemporary media, and scholarship project. The Warrior Women Project held an Interactive Oral History Exhibit at the Pahin Sinte Owayawa School.  In Porcupine Cafeteria & Gymnasium a Swag-bag with free commemorative t-shirts were given  for those in attendance. At 12pm – 1pm there was a free community lunch. At 1pm – 2pm they held a Livestream Roundtable which was a talking circle. Then at 2pm – 5pm the Exhibit opened featuring interviews with the original matriarchs of the Wounded Knee occupation.

Among those interviewed were Geraldine Janis, Arlene “Choach” Means, Ellen Moves Camp, Regina Brave, and Faith Traversie. Clips from the oral-history project are available on the organization’s website at (You can support the project by donating to their campaign via the same website.)

The exhibit is one of several events taking place to honor the anniversary of the occupation.

Community members gathered over the course of four days, February 24 through February 27, with a Wacipi and the Four Directions Walk to commemorate Liberation Day.

The 50th Anniversary Honoring the Woman of Wounded Knee 1973 powwow was held at the Crazy Horse high school in Wanblee. The event was created by Carla Lisa Cheyenne, Beth Castle and several others to remember the Wounded Knee Massacre. There were over 284 people in attendance. Eyapaha fpr the event was Whitney Recountre, Host Drum: Porcupine Singers, Honor Drum: Bear Runner, Drum Keeper: Crow Bellcourt, Arena Directors: Waylon Gaddie and James Hawk.

On February 27, 2023, Monday they held a Four Direction Walk starting at 9 a.m. and concluding at Manderson School with a meal and speakers. The 50th Memorial Anniversary shirts were given from the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, with chances to win some awesome artwork and donations from AIM people nationwide.

For more information contact:, local info text 605 670 9853

Sponsors for events include: Dakota AIM Grassroots, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Generations Indigenous Ways, NDN Collective, Red Warrior Society, Oyuhpe Tokala, Chicano Wacinyapi, AIM GGC/National AIM.

By Christopher A. Piña Native Sun News Staff Writer

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