Examples of historical and contemporary change makers

Dennis J. Banks Dennis Banks, an Anishinaabe, is a lecturer, activist and a Native American leader. He was born in1932 at the Leech Lake Indian Reservation located in northern Minnesota. When he was five years old, he was taken to Pipestone Indian Boarding school where he left at age seventeen. He then joined and served the US military and was sent to Japan. In 1968, he collaborated with other Native American leaders to form the American Indian Movement (AIM). The movement was created solely to address the issue of racism and police brutality against Indian people. It was also to be used as a vessel to safeguard traditional Indian customs and rituals. To achieve this, AIM was to use legal means to uphold Indian treaty rights that would allow them to gather wild rice, to hunt and fish freely without interference. These treaties had been violated by the American government and were only used to dupe and subdue the Indians. (Encyclopedia. com, 2005)
In 1968, after being released from prison Banks went from door to door requesting native Indians to come together to form what would later be known as AIM. In 1969, he was among the people who seized Alcatraz Island which had been taken from Indians and used to create a prison facility. In 1973, he led the military takeover of a village in South Dakota known as Wounded Knee. The standoff between AIM and American army lasted 73 days despite the fact that AIM had been out numbered and had fewer resources. This grabbed the attention of people throughout American and they began receiving massive support for their courage. (Encyclopedia. com, 2005)
Banks through the movement spent most of his life advocating for Indian rights. After earning an arts degree at the University of California, he began lecturing at Deganawidah-Quetzecoat University which is owned and controlled by Indians. He became the first American Indian chancellor and in 1979, Banks began lecturing at Stanford University in California. Since then, he has been travelling overseas giving lectures about Indian customs. In 1987, he was actively involved in convincing two states: Indiana and Kentucky to pass laws that would prevent violation of Indian graves. He then reorganized burial ceremonies for at least 1200 desecrated Indian graves in Uniontown, Kentucky. (Encyclopedia. com, 2005)
In 1988, he organized and led the Sacred Run- an Indian spiritual run from New York to San Francisco, and then in Japan where he was stationed as a soldier, from Hiroshima to Hokkaido. In the same year, he published in Japan his autobiography called Sacred Soul, which won him the Non- fiction Book of the Year Award. He also organized other sacred runs in 1990 and 1991. Banks played major role in the creation of the following films: Thunderheart (1992), The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and A Good Day to Die (2010) which was nominated for an Academy Award. In 2004, he co-authored another book about his life, Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian. After being diagnosed by diabetes, Banks organized a 5000 mile walk dubbed The Longest Walk III to create Diabetes awareness.
“ Dennis J. Banks.” Encyclopedia. com. 2005. Web. Mar. 07, 2015. .