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American Indian Movement

Later Years

Following the Pine Knee incident, AIM declined rapidly in both leadership and momentum. It held its last national unified event in 1978 and the following year dismantled as a national organization, in favor of independent regional chapters. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were in and out of court for years defending their leadership roles in the 1973 and 1975 shootouts. Eventually, both were acquitted of all significant charges. Dennis Banks went on to found another Indian organization, the Sacred Run, devoted to spiritual renewal and environmental issues. As of 2003, Russell Means was campaigning for governor of New Mexico on an independent party ticket. Leonard Peltier remained in prison; his next PAROLE review was scheduled for 2008. The FBI still refused to release nearly 6,000 pages of documents on Peltier, being withheld on grounds of "national security."

In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA)(42 U.S. C.A. § 1996), designed to review and update federal policies regarding such matters as Native Americans' right to access sacred grounds and legal rights to practice their traditional religions. Reviews and recommendations were made. Pursuant to this action, Congress in 1990 passed the NATIVE AMERICAN GRAVES PROTECTION AND REPATRIATION ACT, Public L. No. 101-601, 104 Stat. 3048, but in that same year, the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated its 1988 ruling that AIRFA was a policy statement and not law, and as such, there was no legal right to the protection of sacred sites or the religious use of peyote in the Native American religion. Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association, 483 U.S. 439, 107 S. Ct. 2924, 97 L. Ed. 2d 364 (1988). New sacred land protection legislation was again introduced in 2002 and was still pending in early 2003.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Air weapon to Approximation of lawsAmerican Indian Movement - History, Alcatraz, Trail Of Broken Treaties, Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge, Later Years