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In the seventies, following the Vietnam protests and the Civil Rights Movement, a group of indigenous activists started fighting for their rights. The movement was named Red Power, after the Black Power Movement.In 1970 the book 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – An Indian History of the American West' had been published. It critically pointed out the largely neglected story of the Indians and was a catalyst for a new activist movement.
On 27 February 1973, young members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the town of Wounded Knee. They announced the ‘Oglala Sioux Free State’. The activists were supported by traditional Sioux members who wanted the government to respect the 1868 Treaty, guaranteeing the Indians the Black Hills. Simultaneously, the government was expropriating more Indian land after discovering valuable raw materials in the ground.
The town of Wounded Knee was not chosen by chance. It was the place where, in December 1890, a massacre of indigenous people by American cavalry had taken place. Over 150 unarmed Indians were killed in the freezing cold after having fled. For the activists in the seventies Wounded Knee was a strategic and highly symbolic place.Don Cuny was one of the occupiers of Wounded Knee. He lives nearby, in a small caravan.