American Indian Movement leader Clyde Bellecourt dies at 85

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Clyde Bellecourt, a leader in the Native American struggle for civil rights and a founder of the American Indian Movement, has died. He was 85.

Bellecourt died Tuesday morning from cancer at his home in Minneapolis, Peggy Bellecourt, his wife, told the Star Tribune. Lisa Bellanger, the current co-director of AIM, also confirmed his death to The Associated Press.

Bellecourt was a co-founder in 1968 of the American Indian Movement, which began as a local organization in Minneapolis that sought to grapple with issues of police brutality and discrimination against Native Americans.

The group quickly became a national force. It would lead a string of major national protests in the 1970s, including a march to Washington, D.C., in 1972 called the Trail of Broken Treaties, and a 71-day occupation in 1973 of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, to highlight corruption on the reservation and federal injustices against Indians.

Bellanger said condolences have been coming in from around the globe.

“He was known worldwide,” she said.

“Clyde was a really good man and influenced a lot of people,” said Winona La Duke, an American Indian activist and the executive director of Honor the Earth. “He was very influential in my life.”

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