OCTOBER 17, 1931


Born on Earth Indian Reservation, Minnesota, his family moved to Minneapolis.  Vernon ran a salon business in St. Paul but, by the mid 1960s moved to Aspen, Colorado.  When his brother Clyde helped found the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968, Vernon also joined.  During the 1972 “Trail of Broken Treaties” caravan to Washington, DC., he was a negotiator during AIM’s occupation of Bureau of Indian Affairs offices.  At the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff, he was AIM’s spokesman.  Seeking international recognition for Indian nations, in 1974, he helped organize the 1st U.N. Conference of Indigenous Peoples.  As President, National Coalition on Racism in Sports & Media, he protested use of Native team names & mascots.  In 2001, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission criticized the practice and, in 2005, the NCAA barred such use.  In 2020, in the wake of the “Black Lives Matter” protests, the Washington Redskins changed their name.  Bellecourt died in Minneapolis, October 13, 2007.

 Antonia Darder, “Vernon Bellecourt: A Life of Struggle for Indian Rights,” The Public, 11/2007.  Retrieved 7/27/2020, http://publici.ucimc.org/2007/11/vernon-bellecourt-a-life-of-struggle-for-indian-rights/
Graphic:  Tripodero, 1/6/2018.  Flag of AIM. Public Domain.

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