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