Akwesasne Notes, vol. 5, no. 2, Early Spring (April) 1973


Akwesasne Notes, vol. 5, no. 2, Early Spring (April) 1973


American Indian Movement


Akwesasne Notes was a newspaper founded in 1969, amid a surge in Native American activism, by Ernest Benedict of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, which straddles the U.S. and Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River. The paper, which continued publication through the mid-1990s, became the largest and most influential Native American newspaper in the world. Editors explained the purpose of the newspaper: "Akwesasne Notes supports the efforts of people to re-investigate their own processes of survival - their culture. We are advocates of social justice processes which focus on reuniting people with their community and their land base, and which attempts to resist the exploitation of land, animal, water, and human beings." (volume 16, number 4)

This issue of Akwesasne Notes focuses on the first month of the occupation of Wounded Knee. In February of 1973, more than 200 Native American activists, many members of the Oglala Sioux people, led by members of the American Indian Movement, including Russell Means (Oglala Sioux) and Carter Camp (Ponca), began an occupation of Wounded Knee, a town on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The group opposed the tribal administration of Richard Wilson and protested the failure of the U.S. government to live up to its treaty obligations. Wounded Knee also had tremendous symbolic importance, as it was the site of an 1890 massacre of 150-300 Native Americans by U.S. military forces. The activists occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days, exchanging regular gunfire with U.S. Marshalls, FBI agents and other law enforcement. The occupation attracted international media attention, as well as broad support from other New Left activists and organizations, brought the struggles of Native people to a wider popular audience and helped spur further activism among indigenous people. A.I.M. leaders, Dennis Banks and Russell Means were indicted on criminal charges related to the occupation, but, ultimately, those charges were dismissed in a federal court, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

Articles include first-hand reports from the occupation, broader historical context related to Wounded Knee and the Pine Ridge Reservation and reprints of editorials about the occupation. In addition, articles explore police harassment, intimidation and violence against Native American and Chicano activists participating in a unity conference in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, as well as conflict between indigenous activists and law enforcement outside the Custer, South Dakota Court House and conflict in Rapid City, South Dakota.


Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne


Roz Payne


Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Early Spring (April) 1973


underground press

Original Format




Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, “Akwesasne Notes, vol. 5, no. 2, Early Spring (April) 1973,” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed May 24, 2024, https://rozsixties.unl.edu/items/show/744.

Output Formats