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  • Writer's pictureAntonio Gonzales

AIM-West 40-year reunion, 'We are all one river'

Article and photo by Brenda Norrell

SAN FRANCISCO -- AIM-West is hosting the 40th Anniversary Reunion of the American Indian Movement, Nov. 24 -- 28. With the theme, "No one is illegal -- Somos un solo rio/We are all one river," the topics include the militarization of the US borders, treaty rights, protection of sacred places, international Indigenous rights and religious freedom for prison inmates.

Bill Means, cofounder of the International Indian Treaty Council, is among the featured speakers at the sunrise gathering on Alcatraz Island on Thursday, Nov. 27. The weeklong AIM-West reunion includes Native Americans who have made history in the struggle for Indigenous Peoples rights, including Madonna Thunder Hawk, Manny Pino, Lenny Foster, Mike Flores, Charlie Hill, Patricia Bellanger and others.

The theme is “SOMOS UN SOLO RIO!” We Are One River, and “No One is Illegal!” This includes recognition of Indigenous Nation’s inherent right to self-determination, honor and respect for treaties ratified by the US Congress, protection of sacred sites, freedom for political prisoners, and the encouragement for the U.S. to adopt the United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The discussions include strategies for the “Manifesto for Change”, Green power and Red Power, a sustainable future, and taking a stand in solidarity with our relations from Mexico, Central and South America.

During the organizing session in San Francisco on Tuesday night, Tony Gonzales said the reunion, which includes speakers, concerts and an Unthanksgiving Feast, offers the opportunity to focus on the direction and needs of the future. Pegge Lemke said, following the US elections, it is important to remember that it is the people who hold the power. Lemke said it is the people who have "the power to empower others to return to a more natural way of life and live in balance and rhythm."

Earthcycles web radio returns to the air live, to cover the week's events, Nov. 24 -- 28. Earthcycles producer Govinda Dalton, and cohost Brenda Norrell, will be in San Francisco for the week to host the live show. Dalton, who lives in northern California, and Norrell, based in Tucson, were cohosts of the Longest Walk Talk Radio, on the five-month walk across America. Native Americans walked from Alcatraz to DC for sacred places and protection of Mother Earth, from February through July of 2008.

The same issues covered by the Longest Walk Talk Radio will be highlighted in the weeklong, on-air coverage, including the proliferation of coal mines, power plants and drilling in Indian country; the militarization of the US borders and the oppression and violations of human rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world.

Brief audio interviews are now available from Tuesday night's planning session, with Tony Gonzales, Mark Anquoe, Kiowa from Oklahoma, and Pegge Lemke, who was also a Long Walker. Pegge also encourages Native American Indian Nations to rescue and adopt wild horses, because the US government is now considering euthenasia for the horses. Pegge urged Indian Nations to develop programs for their youths with these horses, preserving Native horse culture. The audios are at

To donate food, coffee and other items for the week, please click here for the list. A turkey dinner will be served for the Unthanksgiving dinner.

AIM-West said in its announcement that AIM founded or inspired organizations including American Indian OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center), Legal Rights Center, Little Earth of United Tribes Housing, Native American Community Clinic, Migizi Communications and Indian education that began with Little Red School House and Heart of the Earth Survival Schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

AIM members brought the plight of Indian people to the attention of the world community through the creation of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), a United Nations non-governmental organization based in San Francisco. The IITC was founded in 1974 at a gathering by the American Indian Movement in Standing Rock, South Dakota attended by more than 5,000 representatives of 98 Indigenous Nations throughout the Americas. In 1977, the IITC became the first organization of Indigenous Peoples to be recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, AIM-West said.

Despite the history and the accomplishments, AIM is difficult to identify for some people. It seems to stand for many things at once-the protection of treaty rights and the preservation of spirituality and culture. But what else?

"Unlike the American civil rights movement, with which it has been compared, AIM has seen self-determination and racism differently. Desegregation was not a goal. Individual rights were not placed ahead of the preservation of Native Nation sovereignty. At the 1971 AIM national conference it was decided that translating policy to practice meant building organizations—schools and housing and employment services," AIM-West said.

Over the years, as these organizations have grown, they have continued to serve the community from a base of Indian culture.

"Before AIM in 1968, culture had been weakened in most Indian communities due to U.S. policy, the American boarding schools and all the other efforts to extinguish Indian secular and spiritual life. Now, many groups cannot remember a time without culture. This great revival has also helped to restore spiritual leaders and elders to their former positions of esteem for the wisdom and the history they can teach. All of these actions are in concert with the principles of AIM and came into being at this time in history because Indian people have refused to relinquish their sovereign right to exist as free and non-colonized people," according to the statement.

AIM-WEST was established to bring about awareness on issues that concern or affect Indians of the Americas on a daily basis. Further, it advocates for communities to establish strategic processes, procedures for standard setting, and for the betterment and well-being of all Indigenous peoples. AIM-WEST addresses issues implicit in international laws and standards related to human rights, the environment, and promotes and show cases cultural and traditional events to complement the diversity of Indigenous peoples representative from throughout the Americas and Pacific region. It is common knowledge San Francisco is that microcosm of the new American Indian merging together in mainstream USA today, AIM-West said.

The general public is invited to attend. The press and media welcomed. Wheel chair accessible. Broadcast daily on and on local SF radio FM 104.1

Contact: Tony Gonzales – 415-577-1492; Volunteer to help: Peggy Lemke 408-625-0986; John Powers – 415-559-9724 and Mark Anquoe 415-566-5788

Schedule of events for the Anniversary AIM West 40th Anniversary Reunion (updated Nov. 12)

AIM-WEST, a San Francisco community based human rights and cultural education non-profit organization, an affiliate of the American Indian Movement, cordially invite you to the 40 Year Anniversary Reunion of the American Indian Movement in the CITY November 24-28, 2008. Please mark your calendars.

Monday, Nov. 24: Location – San Francisco Public Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, across from City Hall.

Time: 8 am registration is on-going. Public meeting opens at 10:30 am until 5:30 pm. The press is invited.

Master of Ceremony: Mr. Bill Means with Madonna Thunder Hawk.*

Opening prayer and introductions: California Native Nation’s representatives, speakers, AIM special guests, and film and slide-show presentation.

Panel discussion on where the Movement is today and primary issues of attention: Immigration and welcoming our relations from the South, National concerns, Treaty Rights, “Green Economy” and Mother Earth, and the recently adopted “UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

Tuesday, Nov. 25: Location – The San Francisco Baha’i Center, 170 Valencia Street (between 14thStreet and Dubois Street). Solidarity statements and topics will include Land struggles today; Sacred Sites; “Manifesto for Change”; Fishing Rights and subsistence gathering; Political Prisoners.

Time: 10 am to 5 pm (coffee and snacks will be provided)

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Location - The San Francisco Baha’i Center, Unthanksgiving Dinner, Special Human Rights Award night. The theme, “The Eagle invites the Condor to eat turkey!” Potluck and speakers and performers; Keith Secola, Phoenix! Also Fancy Dancers “Medicine Warriors” and “All Nations Singers”.

Special guests: Lehman Brightman, Patricia Bellanger, Little Wolf Bellecourt, Yvonne Swan, Charlie Hill, with Max Gail, and much more fun!

Time: 10 am bring food to share and help with setting up tables, chairs, (volunteers needed). 12 noon to 6 pm – Open prayer, drum, dancers, MC introduction, feast and awards.

Thursday, Nov. 27: Free time for AIM conferees! Everyone invited to attend the Annual UnThanksgiving Alcatraz Island Sun Rise Gathering. Boats leave from Pier #31. Call Hornblower Tours at 415-981-7625 for price and schedule of departures; booths open 4:30 am. To purchase tickets in advance (advised!) go to The event is broadcast live 6 am to 8 am from “The Rock” by AIM-WEST, on Pacifica Radio KPFA 94.1 FM. All boats return by 9 am. Have a good day!

Friday, Nov. 28: Fundraiser concert for AIM-WEST at the Baha’i Center with Dr. Loco and Rockin’ Jalapenos, The Bob Young Project, including local and known music performers. Prices $10-20 slide scale. Time: doors open 6 pm to 10 pm. (Support the local advocacy in the bay area!)

For more information or to make a donation on-line: or call 415-577-1492.The entire event will be broadcast live at For San Francisco local radio listeners dial 104.1 FM

Be informed, stay tuned, AIM high! Thank You All My Relations! Wheelchair accessible

More information: Tony Gonzales (415) 577-1492 or visit Listen live at Earthcycles,, Nov. 24 -- 28, 2008.

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