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A Native American Activist Charges the United States with Genocide

Russell Means, who was born on the Ogalala Sioux reservation in South Dakota, became a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the late 1960s. In often dramatic ways, AIM protested the government and society's treatment of Native Americans. Over the years AIM activists occupied Alcatraz Island, the Mayflower II, Mount Rushmore, the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and the site of the Wounded Knee massacre. In the late 1970s, Means led efforts to protect the rights of Indians in other parts of the Americas.

We are people who live in the belly of the monster. The monster being the U.S.A. Every country in the Western Hemisphere follows the lead of the monster. I come not to turn the other cheek. We have turned it now for almost five hundred years, and we realize that here in Geneva, this is our first small step into the international community…The President of the U.S.—to show you what a racist he is—[talks] about human rights while my people are suffering genocide. Not only in the U.S. but in the entire Hemisphere—planned genocide by governments. We have brought documents to Geneva that support this charge.

Source | Russell Means, "We are people who live in the belly of the monster," 20 September 1977 in Bob Blaisdell, ed., Great Speeches by Native Americans (New York: Dover, 2000).
Creator | Russell Means
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Russell Means, “A Native American Activist Charges the United States with Genocide,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 11, 2018, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1262.

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