American Indian Movement co-founder Benton-Banai dies at 89

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Eddie Benton-Banai, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement has died at age 89.


photo credit: Indian Country Today

The American Indian Movement was formed partly in response to alleged police brutality against Indigenous people. American Indian Movement co-founder, Clyde Bellecourt, says the group’s creation can be traced back to a cultural program that he and Benton-Banai started in a Minnesota prison back in the 1960s.

Benton-Banai, an Anishinaabe Ojibwe of the Fish Clan from Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation in Northern Wisconsin, made it his life mission to connect American Indians to their spirituality and sovereignty.

He was a grand chief, or spiritual leader, of the Three Fires Midewinin Lodge, and was also present during the occupation of Wounded Knee village in 1973.

A family friend says Benton-Banai died Monday at a care center in Hayward, Wisconsin, where he had been staying for months. He remembered Benton-Banai as a holy man.

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