† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, and author of The School-to- Prison Pipeline: Education, Discipline and Racialized Double Standards, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice and Considering Hate, is co-founder of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.
In my last reprieve from #Election2016, i had the honor of hearing Clyde Bellecourt speak on his new book, The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt (Author Clyde Bellecourt, As told to Jon Lurie, , 2016). As a native Minnesotan, i have always been lucky enough to be in the epicenter of the activist work of AIM, Winona LaDuke, and others, and so, my gratitude to the Minnesota Historical Society for acknowledging the centrality of Clyde’s work to who we are here. (Minnesota Historical Society also published We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement.) This is what they have to say:
“The American Indian Movement burst onto the scene in the late 1960s as indigenous people across the country began to demand what is rightfully theirs. Clyde Bellecourt, whose Ojibwe name – Nii Gon Neway Wii Dung – translates as “The Thunder Before the Storm,” is one of its cofounders and iconic leaders. This powerful autobiography provides an intimate narrative of his childhood on the White Earth Reservation, his long journey through the prison system, and his embodiment of “confrontation politics” in waging war against entrenched racism.
Bellecourt is up-front and unapologetic when discussing his battles with drug addiction, his clashes with other AIM leaders, his experiences on the Trail of Broken Treaties and at Wounded Knee, and the cases of Leonard Peltier and murdered AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash. This gritty, as-told-to memoir also uncovers the humanity behind Bellecourt’s militant image, revealing a sensitive spirit whose wounds motivated him to confront injustice and to help others gain a sense of pride by knowing their culture.
The Thunder Before the Storm offers an invaluable inside look at the birth of a national movement—the big personalities, the creativity, and the perseverance that were necessary to alter the course of Native and American history.”
This story is such a crucial one, always, and especially now in the age of Standing Rock — the power of people united in their love for the land. Hope you read it, and are inspired
Clyde Bellecourt is a Native American rights activist and Minneapolis resident who co-founded the American Indian Movement. His new autobiography, titled “The Thunder Before the Storm”, tells the history of his life and events which give the foundation for this justice work, from Survival Schools to standing up with Standing Rock. Rico Morales gives us a piece of that history from the Minneapolis American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue also known as the Native American Corridor for Clyde’s autobiography book launch which occurred on Nov. 4.