Ammon Bundy, right, shakes hand with a federal agent guarding the gate at the Burns Municipal Airport in Oregon on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (photo: Keith Ridler/AP)
Dennis J. Bernstein | Reader Supported News | January 24, 2016
or forty years now, Leonard Peltier, leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has been imprisoned as a result of the armed raid by the federal government on Indian land at the historic Wounded Knee in 1973. Bill Means, veteran of the Vietnam War and the standoff at Wounded Knee, said, “The Feds didn’t serve us coffee and pizzas. They came heavily armed, ready to do battle, and opened fire before they asked the first question.” Means is a co-founder, along with Leonard Peltier, of AIM, and is now on the board of the International Indian Treaty Council.
“The laws are recast and enforced in order to suppress any type of minority movement,” said Means, “to shift all the power of recognition to the white community. So that when the posse comitatus or bunch of racist ranchers take over a piece of land, they do it in the name of their country, and they become immune to the criminal laws of the United States.”
Means reflected on how this scenario might have played out quite differently, if it had been AIM that decided to lead an armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. “We know exactly what they’d do. We experienced that back in 1973,” Means told me in a January radio interview. “We were immediately surrounded by over 7 or 8 federal jurisdictions: FBI, U.S. marshals, U.S. Border Patrol, BIA police. I’m missing a few, but you can understand the type of response we get as Indian people.”