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        Minnesota | Activity 11.2: The American Indian Movement

        Students watch videos about the American Indian Movement (AIM), which began in Minnesota, and learn about its role in the post-World War II civil rights and conservation movements. Students answer questions about the video content and learn about the Occupation of Wounded Knee.

        Lesson Summary

        Students watch videos about the American Indian Movement (AIM) of the post-World War II civil rights and conservation movements, which originated in Minnesota. Students answer questions about the video content and learn about the Occupation of Wounded Knee.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Minnesota | Unit 11: Post-Cold War and Minnesota" which enables students to describe economic and social changes that took place in Minnesota during and after the Cold War era. Students also learn about some concerns of modern-day Minnesota.

        Time Allotment

        10 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Standards:  Describe civil rights and conservation movements in post-World War II Minnesota, including the role of Minnesota leaders. 



        1. Tell students they will be watching a short video about the American Indian Movement (AIM). Explain that AIM advocated for American Indian rights and used protests to draw public attention to problems they faced, such as political oppression, racism, and poverty.

        1. Distribute the American Indian Movement handout and instruct students to fold the note sheet in half to hide the question portion while watching the video. Have students take notes in the top block while watching the video.

        1. Play the video, What Was the American Indian Movement? [0:38]. You may want to pause or replay the video to provide students enough time to take notes.

        1. After watching, have students answer the questions on the handout.

        1. Explain that AIM did not use peaceful protests for their cause. They occupied places, seized control forcibly, and committed vandalism. The conflict came to a height at the Occupation of Wounded Knee, which lasted from February 27, 1973, until May 8, 1973.

        1. To highlight these issues, you may play the video, What Was the Occupation of Wounded Knee? [1:50]. Disclaimer: This video shows AIM members using firearms. While there is no direct violence shown, this video might not be appropriate for all audiences.

          1. Ask: How did American Indians feel leading up to Wounded Knee? [They would do whatever it took for change; they felt their culture was being obliterated; they felt the occupation was a rebirth of their pride]

          2. Ask: What other American Indian leaders were mentioned? [Tecumseh, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse]

        1. ALTERNATE: If you choose not to show the video, explain to students that AIM seized control of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, after attempts to impeach Tribal President Richard Wilson, who was accused of corruption, failed. AIM members felt they were increasingly marginalized and becoming invisible. They occupied Wounded Knee to regain their pride and protect their culture. The media heavily covered the occupation, and American Indians from across the country came to support AIM’s cause. AIM demanded investigations into the misuse of nation funds and 371 broken treaties between Native nations and the federal government. Explain that it was not a peaceful occupation. Due to violence and damage to houses, the town was not reoccupied until the 1990s.

        1. If covered previously, compare and contrast the American Indian Movement with the civil rights movement.

        Answer Key

        1. 1968 [0:08]

        2. Young urban Indians who were fed up with police harassment. [0:18]

        3. Plymouth Rock, Mayflower, Mt. Rushmore, Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC; they occupied or vandalized these in protest. Answers will vary. [0:25]


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