A GOOD DAY TO DIE (58 minute version)


Format: 1080p/ 23.98/ 16:9

Audio: Ch. 1 - Stereo Mix Left

Ch. 2 - Stereo Mix Right

RT: 58:00

Date: May 26, 2011

Timecode Multimedia


00:59:00:00 Color Bars with tone

00:59:30:00 Black


01:00:00:00 Text appears

A Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Production

01:00:04:07 Dennis Banks appears on screen

Text: Dennis Banks, Co-Founder AIM, Ojibwa

Dennis Banks

"What is the sacrifice we Native Americans have made… we can't tell it by the amount of land that they've taken from

us… we can't tell it by the massacres they've committed…

but the totality of all of it."

01:00:26:02 Text appears

Before the American Indian Movement,

our people lived in despair.

01:00:29:04 Text appears

Many were ashamed of being Indian.

01:00:32:02 Text appears

After Wounded Knee,

we became warriors again.

- Dennis Banks

01:00:39:12 Music starts

Title appears



Leech Lake

Inside Dennis Banks home, showing photos on his walls

Dennis playing a card game with his daughter, Darla

Dennis Banks

"8.. 10.. 12.. a blind man could see that"

01:01:17:11 Newscaster Voice (John Chancellor)

"Now the Indians are getting even, they're moving to the city

getting militant and are setting up their own alphabet…"


01:01:22:18 Newscaster Voice (Harry Reasoner)

"Several groups of American Indians have banded together

to march on the Nations Capitol for a redress of some long

standing grievances. But the President refused to see them,

Congress is out of session…

01:01:32:16 Harry Reasoner appears and continues to speak

"So today they took their caravan to the Bureau of Indian


01:01:35:23 Newscaster Voice (Tom Brokaw)

"Dennis Banks is one of the founders of the American Indian


01:01:38:20 Tom Brokaw appears and continues to speak

"And back in 1973 he was making headlines…"

01:01:41:17 Black and White footage from Custer riots and Wounded Knee in South Dakota, 1973

Newscaster Voice (female reporter)

"In 1973, Dennis Banks led a protest at the Custer County

Court House, because a White man who stabbed an Indian

was not charged with murder. The protest became a riot. A few weeks later he led the occupation of Wounded Knee, it lasted 71 days. He fled to Oregon and California and finally…"


01:02:06:04 Cross Fade to Leech Lake on reservation in Minnesota

Singing and Drums

01:02:09:20 Text appears

Leech Lake Indian Reservation Minnesota

01:02:20:16 Black & White Photos of Reservation

Dennis Banks

"This is the spot… right here… its all grown over now…

this is the spot where I was born.

01:02:32:10 More OLD Black & White Photos (Family Photo of Mom)

Dennis Banks

"My mom… she used to make apple pie… she was a good

cook… I remember that and ah… and she would- we'd go

gather apples all these old crab apples… then we'd go… then she'd make, she'd make apple pie."

01:02:45:12 More OLD Black & White Photos (Ojibwa Women cooking)

Dennis Banks

"Every Friday or Saturday she'd say… well, I guess it's time to cook… and do you know what I'm going to cook and everyone would say… Yeah!"

01:02:53:19 More OLD Black & White Photos (Leech Lake Reservation)

Dennis Banks

"There was no paved road out here then… we were always

walking, always walking…"

01:02:56:23 Dennis Banks walking with granddaughter, Zinzii

Dennis Banks

"We had to ask people for food cause no one was working… we had to go on welfare."

01:03:07:22 Dennis Banks and granddaughter sitting on ground

Brenda Child

"Boarding schools were established in the 19th Century…"

01:03:13:16 Brenda Child appears on screen

Text: Brenda Child, Native Studies, Ojibwa

"And the idea of this institution was to bring Native children

away from their families and communities for the purposes

of cultural assimilation… and to really move away from their

Tribal backgrounds."

01:02:25:07 Photo of School Bus

Brenda Child

"The Government forced Native people into boarding schools

by coming into communities through their local law enforcement representatives to round up children and taking them to boarding schools."

01:03:37:11 Dennis Banks and granddaughter sitting on ground

Dennis Banks

"The bus was coming…"

01:03:39:22 OLD Black & White Photo of Indian kids and school bus

Dennis Banks

"The BIA man was here. He had his little clipboard and he

said, these are the ones that have to go."

01:03:48:09 Dennis Banks face

Dennis Banks

"So my brother Mark got on and my sister… and there was crying and there was yelling and screaming… and ah… kids not wanting to go… and ah… but it… then we left."

01:04:06:07 OLD Black & White Photos of Pipestone Boarding School

Text appears

Dennis was five years old when he was sent to Pipestone

Indian School in Minnesota

Music rises

01:04:15:11 Dennis Banks, over photos of Pipestone and his face

"I remember being on that school bus for hours and hours…

I remember getting off that bus and we were given"

01:04:23:15 OLD Black & White Photo of Dennis, age 5 at Pipestone

Dennis Banks

"kaki uniforms… coveralls… and whenever I'd see my

sister, Audrey, I say- what's going on, when are we going home?"

01:04:33:23 OLD Black & White Photo of Pipestone School, Indian children

Brenda Child

"Average school day in a Government Boarding School… emphasized reading, writing, the basic skills…"

01:04:42:14 Bob Hicks

Text: Bob Hicks, Filmmaker, Creek - Seminole

Bob Hicks

"They mostly taught you to do vocational schools cause Indians were good with their hands…

Black and White Photos of Indian children in classrooms

Bob Hicks

"They were taught to be farmers and bricklayers… they weren't taught to be… teachers or lawyers… white society didn't believe that the Indians had that capability."

01:05:02:01 Sydney Byrd

Text: Sydney Byrd, Dakota

"They beat us for speaking our own language… I could never understand that… I still maintain that anybody that speaks two languages is richer than a person who speaks only one. So why him his legal right to speak his own language?" OLD Pipestone School Photo of Dennis and other childrenSydney Byrd "I remember a little boy… Norman Red Bear… and he stood up,

he was a little boy… but he stood up and he said… go ahead and beat me big man… you enjoy beating little kids because

they speak their own language… you're not going to take it away from me… I'm going to speak it… you can beat me to death but I'm going to keep it… go ahead and beat me big man… and he slapped that little boy… blood coming out of his nose and mouth… and he said go ahead and satisfy…. beat another little kid… make his mouth bleed. I'm not afraid of you, I'm not afraid of you, I'm going to keep my language… go ahead… yeah."

01:05:54:00 OLD Black & White Photos of Pipestone Boarding School

Brenda Child

"There were kids who were completely raised in these


01:06:00:15 Dennis Banks

"They shifted me from Pipestone to Whapton Indian School,

Whapton Indian School to Flandreau."

01:06:09:02 OLD Black & White Photo of Dennis at Flandreau Indian School

Brenda Child

"The way that Indians coped with and the children especially

coped with it was by running away."

01:06:15:00 Dennis Banks

"So we left"

OLD Black & White Photo of railroad tracks


Dennis was 15 when he ran away

from Flandreau Indian School

Dennis Banks

"We left Flandreau at night time, from these tracks I knew

where the train was going to be slowing down in the morning

and we could jump the freight. And we did."

01:06:30:15 OLD Black & White Photo of Steam Engine Train

Dennis Banks

"Here we were just hugging each other… happy… we're going home!"

"Early the next morning we started walking, we walked all the to Cass Lake… 17 miles… and then I went over to where

my mom was at… and she looked at me… and she says- oh my son… and we just hugged and… she said she was gonna cook

cook… and she says… I want to make… want to make you a pie tonight… and I said, apple pie."

01:07:16:12 OLD Black & White Photo of Indians in canoe on Leech Lake

01:07:23:15 OLD Black & White film footage of Japan

Dennis Banks

"When I finished the schools, I decided that I would go into the military."

01:07:28:02 Text appears

Yokota Air Force Base

Sunagawa, Japan 1956

Dennis Banks

"I asked for an assignment to the far east…"

01:07:34:12 Footage of Dennis Banks in Sunagawa


Yokota Air Force Base

Sunagawa, Japan 2008

Dennis Banks

"What I saw at Sunagawa really changed direction in my life."

"The United States Air Force wanted to expand the Base by one and they were condemning all that land… after they condemned it, it would be turned over to the US Air Force."

01:07:56:11 OLD Black & White footage of Sunagawa riots in 1956

Dennis Banks

"But the students, farmers and napazon mijogee all came

together and said "no"… those of us in the military were bussed over and we were standing guard on the inside of the fence… but then all of a sudden the commotion started happening right in front of us."

"But I seen the police, they were hitting… hitting the monks…"

"In the end… they won… there was no expansion of the Base, the military stopped the effort to get the land, so they won!"

01:08:38:19 OLD Japanese footage of plane flying away

Dennis Banks

"This was Native people fighting for their land."

01:08:46:14 Black Screen with Text

Late 1950s

Indian Population of Minneapolis, Minnesota: 10%

Indian Population of Minneapolis jails: 70%

01:08:53:00 OLD Black & White Photo of Minneapolis City

Text appears

After the military, Dennis moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota

01:09:07:07 OLD Black & White Photo of Dennis holding 2 babies


During this time Dennis was married and had four children

Dennis Banks

"I started drinking… I wasn't drinking because I was unemployed

it happened that I just started drinking and then pretty soon that began to overwhelm me."

01:09:27:06 Dennis Banks sitting in jail cell inside Stillwater Prison

Dennis Banks

"I committed a crime of burglary, and I was arrested, and I

was sent up here to prison."

Shot of Sign: Minnesota Correctional Facility Stillwater

Footage of Stillwater Prison

Dennis Banks

"I wasn't working, feeling bad, not being able to provide for

my family and it was winter time… so I broke into this grocery store… my partner, Bill… I said, Bill I'm leaving… lets get out of here… so I left… we were both drunk… so I went and got home and it was snowing out… I woke up my wife… we're having steak dinner tonight… it was about one or two o'clock in the morning… and so… we put all the groceries away and we started… and there was a knock on the door… and there was the police. I had-

it was snowing out as I said, I drove my pickup right from the

grocery store right to my home, all they did was follow the tracks."

01:10:41:07 Footage of Stillwater Prison

Dennis Banks

"I was sentenced to five years… you'll end up doing like three

years and eighteen months and the rest will be off for good

behavior… but you feel destitute… you feel this is the end of

the road… either you're going to spend the rest of your life in

prison… you're going to commit suicide… those are all options that you think about."

01:11:01:12 Dennis walking into the Stillwater Prison Library

Dennis Banks

"Going to the library I found some books on Native history,

I brought one back to the cell… so then I became highly

interested in the path that I wanted to take… I wanted to be

more part of helping Native people."

01:11:19:17 OLD Black & White footage of the civil rights movements, 1960s

Dennis Banks

"I'd seen the news about 200,000 people in the streets of San Francisco or someplace protesting the war. The civil rights marches of half a million people in Washington D.C. And they were speaking about the Black civil rights, speaking about the war in Vietnam, the women's rights…but no one was speaking for Native people."

01:11:59:20 Driving through Minneapolis today

Dennis Banks

"When I got out of prison the south side of Minneapolis became area where a lot of people lived."

01:12:07:13 Dennis Banks with white beard


Dennis Banks, Co-Founder AIM, Ojibwa

Dennis Banks

"It was very hot July 28, 1968… that was going to be our first

meeting of the American Indian Movement."

01:12:12:23 Frances Fairbanks


Frances Fairbanks

Director, American Indian Center, Minneapolis

Frances Fairbanks

"Dennis came to get me one night… this was in the sixties…

and said come on I come to get you to go to a meeting… so we went to a meeting… it was on Plymouth Avenue North in

Minneapolis. The atmosphere was you know… anger… for

what the police do."

01:12:31:03 Dennis Banks

"Every Friday night the police would come down Franklin Avenue stop in all the Indian bars… and they would back their paddy wagons up flush with the back door of the bar."

01:12:45:02 Jay WhiteCrow


Jay WhiteCrow

AIM Member, Seneca

Jay WhiteCrow

"And they'd take their nightsticks and bang on the… the ah…

counters and say- all right you S.O.B.s you're all under arrest

get out there and get in that paddy wagon."

"And this one guy… he was sort of heavy… he was getting in an moving rather slowly… this police officer hit him in the gut with a nightstick and he had real trouble getting in the paddy wagon, but he went ahead and got in… the guy had serious health issues… he was always complaining that he was hurting here… and he goes down to the jail and dies that night."

01:13:24:00 Dennis Banks

"Police brutality and slum housing… high unemployment,

those were the things that people came to discuss… and

of course Clyde Bellecourt was in the audience saying we've

got to do this, we've got to do that… "

01:13:43:01 Clyde Bellecourt

"And I told them confrontation… confrontation politics is what

I called it."

01:13:46:18 Clyde Bellecourt


Clyde Bellecourt

Co-Founder, AIM, Ojibwa

Clyde Bellecourt

"Half the people ran out of the door, they were scared to death what I was talking about."

01:13:51:12 Frances Fairbanks


Frances Fairbanks

Director, American Indian Center, Minneapolis

Francis Fairbanks

"So Dennis and a lot of other people got together and decided they were going to march against the police."

01:13:59:01 Clyde Bellecourt


Clyde Bellecourt

Co-Founder AIM, Ojibwa

Clyde Bellecourt

"We're going to get in their face, we're going to march on the

police department, we're going to march on the public school


01:14:04:00 Francis Fairbanks

"The brutality did stop."

01:14:07:19 OLD News footage about AIM Founder, Dennis Banks


"This Indian tent city is in Minneapolis, home of one of the

most activist Indian organizations, the American Indian

Movement or AIM as it is known. AIM's Chairman is Dennis Banks, a 37 year old ex-convict."

Reporter (1970 news interview)

"Would you characterize AIM as a militant group?"

Dennis Banks (1970 news interview)

"I would say we are striving to correct and to change and to gain control of our own community, gain control of our schools,

have some input into the city planning… if this is being militant, then I would say "yes"."

Dennis Banks (today)

"We came from slum conditions, from prisons, jails… and we

weren't there to start a clothing drive… we weren't there to start a toy drive… we were there to hopefully bring an end to the goddamn conditions that we were living in.

01:15:02:15 OLD Photo of AIM storefront window



George Mitchell

Co-Founder, AIM, Ojibwa

George Mitchell

"Well the beginnings of AIM at that time were sort of chaotic

because at that point no one would listen to Indian people,

until we got a little belligerent lets say."

01:15:23:23 Photo of Mount Rushmore

Lehman Brightman


Lehaman Brightman

Founder United Native of America

Lakota - Creek

Lehman Brightman

"We took over Mount Rushmore one time… we went up there and they weren't hiring Indians to work there… so we threw picket line up there against them for a while… I went to talk and they cut the mike off on me… cause I cussed."

"And I start ranting and raving about how they didn't employ

Indians, none of the people who worked in those stores were

Indian, none of the Mounties were Indian… this is a damn

disgrace… this is our land, it belongs to us and they don't have Indians working here. I got off and said give me a piece of paper … I wrote out a press release… and I said- as of darkness we're going to take over Mount Rushmore… then I sent a guy into town … I said get three white sheets … and I had the women sew them together…in red paint I put Sioux Indian Power and the morning there were about five of us on George Washington's head… and Banks was one of them."

"So we took out those sheets… white sheets and put rocks on the bottom… and tied them up here… Sioux Indian Power… god it was the first time something like that had ever happened… it's a national monument."

01:16:30:14 Footage of Rushmore Monument from a distance

Text on screen

Leonard Crow Dog

AIM Spiritual Leader, Lakota

Charlie Hill

"So the lit a fire where we started going to ceremonies and



Charlie Hill

Comedian, Oneida

Charlie Hill

"People started dressing native. I saw that on campus, we started growing our hair and it was an expression of our heritage."

01:16:47:04 Wes Studi


Wes Studi

Actor, Cherokee

Wes Studi

"Whether it was intentional or not, we grabbed a little bit of that Hollywood romanticism of Indians from the past and began to use it in order to further our own goals."

01:17:04:15 Photo of Russell Means


Russell Means

AIM Leader, Lakota

Clyde Bellecourt

"About two years later a young man came from Cleveland

and his name was Russell Means. He came to our pow wow

inquiring about the work we were doing."

01:17:13:18 Ken Tilsen


Ken Tilsen

Defense Attorney, AIM Leadership Trial

Ken Tilsen

"Russell Means, Russell is a very charismatic person."

01:17:19:12 Jay WhiteCrow

"And he got stuff done, I mean he could move things"

01:17:21:07 Charlie Hill

"And he was like the bad ass and Dennis was the diplomat,

I mean, I'm talking with broad strokes."

01:17:27:15 OLD Photos of AIM Leaders: Means, Bellecourt & Banks

Dennis Banks

"Russell… Clyde… myself… it was gelling… everything was

being put together… it was starting to build."

"It was the summer of 72 and the Chairman of the Tribe came over and he was saying, you know what we need, we need to a big gathering in Washington D.C. … so we went down-stairs and said "gathering in D.C." and we said we can have caravans… and I said yeah why don't we have a caravan all the way from the west coast. I was taking care of from San Francisco… Russ from Seattle all the way across… we'll visit as many reservations as possible. In Salt Lake City we picked up four car loads of people there… then Cheyenne Wyoming… picked up some more people there… and then we joined together and that was a good feeling… We went on into D.C."

01:18:24:15 Footage of Capitol Building in D.C.


Washington, DC

November 1972

Dennis Banks

"We started making plans to have meetings with the health,

education, welfare, BIA, the Department of the Interior…. the

co-ordinator said there's something wrong… we had all these meetings set up but now they're slamming their doors on us."

01:18:39:13 Wes Studi

"It didn't turn out as expected"

01:18:44:12 Dennis Banks

"Then we went over to to the BIA building…"

OLD photos and footage of BIA building in D.C.

"Waited until they opened up… went inside… we had an

impromptu meeting there… our room seats 500 people and

ever chair was taken… we asked the Commissioner to come

down… and that's when he told us that- all the meetings had

been cancelled."

01:19:08:04 Commissioner

"I don't know anything about that… and I doubt it."

01:19:14:09 Martha Grass


Martha Grass, Ponca

"Why the hell do we have to put up with some 'I don't know'


01:19:20:13 LaDonna Harris


LaDonna Harris, wife of US Senator Harris


"By the time they had gotten there the Congress was out of

session and the Administration was in California… Nixon was California… so the timing was off for one thing which made them even more frustrated about seeing who they needed to see about negotiating for these increase in program."

01:19:40:22 Dennis Banks

"Five o'clock the BIA Building was supposed to be closed…

everybody out…"

01:19:45:20 Cy Griffin


Cy Griffin

Videographer, Adopted son of Henry Crow Dog

"The police said, the building closes at five or five thirty and

everyone's got to be out… no… we're not going to get out."

01:19:52:15 Dennis Banks

"Then we decided then that we would… we'd occupy the


01:19:58:20 Cy Griffin

"And if you're with us stand up now… and three hundred people stood up."

01:20:05:03 Dennis Banks

"And the people said… YEAH… a big round of applause.. YEAH."

01:20:07:10 Cy Griffin

"This is our building… why can't we sleep in the auditorium… why can't we eat in the cafeteria tonight…"

01:20:13:00 LaDonna Harris

"And we knew that they'd come into town and that they had taken the Bureau… so we went down and it was a big dramatic stage… and they were standing guard… after we got in the building we found that there was no one negotiating any place, so I said, do you have someone that you talked to that you can negotiate with?"

01:20:36:13 Dennis Banks

"But then when we started talking a fight broke out in the back, the police started to charge the building…"

01:20:41:12 Jay WhiteCrow


AIM Member, Seneca

"The cops decided to storm the building… it was a lot of stuff being thrown around inside and table legs used as clubs and stuff like that … and the cops were attempting to come in some of the lower … and the guys were down there beating them back with those table legs."

01:20:41:12 Dennis Banks

"They came back with about forty more police officers and they tried rush the building again, but there was people upstairs up on the second and third, fourth stories and they all had big typewriters…. people were coming in like that and they were throwing typewriters to warn them that if they get too close that's what's going to happen"

01:21:19:02 Wes Studi

"When you're in a situation like that… you can begin to get fairly paranoid in terms of 'yeah they're really going to come in here and the hell out of us and we have to defend ourselves'… it was sort of a siege mentality that developed within that…"

01:21:36:00 George Mitchell


George Mitchell

Co-Founder, AIM, Ojibwa

"The United States media wouldn't support us… it was the foreign press from Europe and Japan that started publicizing our little campaign here… and then a… CBS, NBC and all them felt left out"

01:21:49:17 Jay WhiteCrow

"Outside the building was just spectators who gathered themselves … and they formed arm in arm around the building and wouldn't move."

01:22:10:19 Della Warrior


Della Warrior

Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, C.O.O.

Otoe Missouria

"They were getting the attention of the public… which you needed to do in order to get the attention of the Congressional leaders."

01:22:13:15 Dennis Banks

"We drafted the twenty point program we presented to Congress."

01:22:17:23 Eda Gordon


Eda Gordon

Investigator for Defense, AIM Leadership Trial

"Well those radical Indians are presenting a twenty point program these aren't really radical ideas, these are ideas that revive what Indian peoples' are entitled to… based on their treaties and based the agreements that they've had with this country."

01:22:34:12 Wes Studi

"The government simply didn't take us seriously in terms of actually begin to talk about things that could alleviate some of the pressure was on some Indian Tribes throughout the United States."

01:22:52:04 Joann WhiteCrow


Joann WhiteCrow

AIM Member, Cherokee

"I just looked upon them as heros… they were my heros… there were people there that you wouldn't dream would be there other- wise… you know you would think they wouldn't do that- they found their courage and they went I think because of these men."

01:23:13:01 Cy Griffin

"It's the second or third day… we're still here, right… no been killed, no body's been busted… singing and drumming… singing the AIM song… dancing… three meals a day in the cafeteria."

01:23:28;19 Dennis Banks

"We had it for four days… and we wouldn't let it up…"

01:23:35:04 LaDonna Harris

"And so I called around to people I knew in the White House

and said somebody's got to give somebody some authority from White House so they can negotiate with these people so they can come to some conclusion."

"The outcome of it was, that's what they did… but in the mean time there was damage done to the building… there was great drama all throughout Washington."

01:23:54:06 Clyde Bellecourt

"They wrote a check to the National Congress of American Indians"

01:23:59:21 LaDonna Harria

"People- they provided buses and transportation for them to get home… they were so anxious to get them out they would have just done anything to get rid of them."

01:24:08:13 Wes Studi

"We all went home and began to weigh our options on what's the next step for us as a group."

01:24:16:19 Marshall McKay

Tribal Chairman

Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

"Because people started thinking about Native Americans differently Native Americans started to think about themselves differently."

01:24:24:18 Wes Studi

"It was just a real turning point, I think, in terms of how we viewed ourselves as American Indians, how we view ourselves as tribes… and we knew at that point that we could effect a positive change."

01:24:43:17 Jay WhiteCrow


AIM Member


"We began to feel it… it made you proud… cause we would mention it between each other sometimes about Indian brotherhood… about all being brothers and this other stuff, but it was never real… this began to make it real… this began to shape it and give some meaning to it."


01:25:12:03 George Tennyson


U.S. Marshall (retired), South Dakota

"I believe that most local communities… local law enforcement… local people… then looked at them as a bunch of renegades."

01:25:20:12 Cora Jones

Former BIA employee


"It was really disheartening… because all of a sudden they were thinking that you know… Indian people were on the warpath and they were going to be circling the wagon trains again."

01:25:28:18 Clyde Bellecourt

"After the BIA takeover there was an order that went out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that if anymore that two Indian people gather on a street corner they could be arrested… for planning or inciting a riot… especially American Indian Movement members"

01:25:40:18 Joann WhiteCrow

"A lot of people did not agree with what AIM was doing, they

thought they were maybe a little too radical… at the time, which… I of course did not think they were… I didn't think they were radical enough."

01:26:06;06 BLACK SCREEN with WHITE TEXT

South Dakota Indian Reservations, 1970s

Average yearly income: $1,500

Unemployment: as high as 70%

Infant mortality: 3 times national average

Average age at death: 44 years

01:26:12:07 OLD Black & White Custer Riot Footage from 1973


Three months after BIA takeover

Russell Means

"As you know we're going into Custer… and there are quite a few of us… who don't plan… on walking out of Custer."

01:26:35:04 Driving into Custer, SD today

Dennis Banks

"We came here on February 6th… to protest the judicial handling of Wesley Bad Heart Bull… his death… "

01:26:46:06 Russell Hawkins

Superintendent, Bureau of Indian Affairs


"It was Sarah Bad Heart Bull has a son who was killed violently… and right or wrong… he was killed by a non-Indian… and the non-Indian did not go to prison."

01:26:57:12 Eda Gordon

"And instead of being charged with murder, they were charged with second degree manslaughter."

01:27:03:08 Custer Riot Footage, 1973

Dennis Banks

"It is sad when mistreatment… and abuse… and neglect… and murder against Indian people becomes common. This is where it started… and this is where it's going to end. It's a good day to die."


01:27:31:05 Marshall Young


Judge, Custer Trial

Custer, South Dakota

"Dennis Banks gave a speech here in Rapid City… and part of that speech was… it's a good day to die… and that got everybody because they thought… it's a good day to die meant… it's a good day for us to go out and kill you."

01:27:45:10 Custer Riot Footage, 1973

Dennis Banks

"Let us show America… show this country… show countries all around the world… that we will not tolerate any more abuse… that we will not tolerate any more killings."

01:28:06:10 Custer City today

Dennis Banks

"We had a scheduled meeting with District Attorney… State's

Attorney they call it… we had it right in that building over there… it's the old court house."

01:28:19:09 Custer Riot Footage, 1973

KOTA TV News Reporter

"Today, February 6th, is the day that Dennis Banks, AIM Leader said it would be a good day to die… but the day however started off very slowly… with the nine o'clock meeting being missed by the Indian group… later on in the day however, Indians began to arrive at Custer County Courthouse in caravans of cars."

01:28:40:16 Cy Griffin

"Only a few people were allowed in to talk to the Judge and the DA right… they were going to decide things… "

News Footage

Door Guard

"Three and yourself go on in and talk to the District Attorney…"

Cy Griffin

"So they only let a few in…"

Door Guard

"You and three others…"

Cy Griffin

"So Russ and Dennis and a few others…"

Dennis Banks

"An claimed in front of witnesses at least ten… that he was coming back to fix and kill Bad Heart Bull… of which, he did… now that's premeditated murder."

01:29:09:05 KOTA Custer Riot Footage, 1973

Hobart Gates


Hobart Gates, State Attorney, South Dakota

01:29:11:05 Russell Means

"So when a white man hunts down an Indian… takes two days to plan it… and hunts him down… and brags about it… and you give him a five thousand dollar bail and a second degree manslaughter he goes to prison for a lousy two years, if he doesn't' get probation."

01:29:23:18 Hobart Gates

"I'm going to prosecute to the fullest extent on the second degree manslaughter"

01:29:30:08 Eda Gordon

"They were basically told… tough." "There was anger, there was righteous anger."

01:29:40:16 Custer Riot Footage, 1973

Dennis Banks

"One of those Troopers grabbed Sarah Bad Heart Bull… the very reason why we're there… because her son was killed…"

01:30:02:21 Marshall Young

"Somebody broke the window and then the people at the front door started pushing through the Sheriff Deputies to get into the building"

"There was a lot of clubs and beating up of everybody…"

01:20:31:00 Cy Griffin

"We started setting fire to the town… these two young guys run up the steps of the court and throw this big can right through the glass door… so a guy picks up a flare… "

01:31:16:05 Marshall Young

"It took a long time for law enforcement to get the thing under control … they burned down the chamber of commerce building across the street… they tried to start a fire at the filling station across the street and have the gas tanks explode but they were unsuccessful…

it was a general riot and it was just chaos because there was smoke and it was burning and lots of fighting and every thing else … it was just total chaos."

01:31:56:08 Dennis Banks

"February sixth… was a hell of a good day… it was a good day to die for a lot of things. I think those people will think twice before they stab another Indian.

01:32:29:15 OLD footage, driving onto Pine Ridge Reservation


Wounded Knee, South Dakota

on the Pine RIdge Indian Reservation

01:32:34:16 Dennis Banks in white beard

"The American Indian Movement was preparing itself to really make a final stand. A final stand that says no more abuse… a final stand, no more killings… a final stand, no more ripping off of all our lands … our resources… our timber… our water rights… the rights to hunt, fish and trap…"

Text under Photos of Pine Ridge in 1970s

Pine Ridge Reservation

01:33:03:11 Tashina Banks


Tashina Banks

Dennis Banks daughter

Lakota - Ojibwa

"During the early seventies, the Pine Ridge reservation and the people of the Pine Ridge reservation were really under siege.. by the BIA Administrator… Dickie Wilson… and there was a lot of paranoia… and there was a lot of fear… "

01:33:21:18 Jay WhiteCrow

AIM Member, Seneca

"He and many of the mixed-bloods were raising havoc… felt they had the right to go around and shoot up houses and people…"

01:33:34:01 Ken Tilsen

Defense Attorney, AIM Leadership Trial

"People who called themselves GOONS… you know that the acronym was for Guardians of the Oglala Nation… but I have to always believe that that was not an accidental choice… that they called themselves Goons because they wanted to be seen as people who would shoot and kill anybody."

01:33:56:19 Clyde Bellecourt

Co-Founder, AIM, Ojibwa

"They had drive by shootings that were going on at night… women were being swept off the streets of Pine Ridge, a lot of them got raped."

01:24:04:03 Jay WhiteCrow

"They just got away with it and the FBI just turned their head."

01:34:08:07 Eda Gordon

Defense Investigator, AIM Leadership Trial

"It was this absolute… crucible of fear… that Dick Wilson's methods had produced…"

01:34:24:13 Text appears

Two weeks after Custer riot

Pine Ridge reservation

Tashina Banks

"Somebody on the reservation called AIM… the American Indian Movement… and they called for AIM's help."

Dennis Banks

"When I got there they were discussing all the Goon squad and the people that were in power… they weren't helping the people … so they wanted AIM to help them."

01:34:45:15 Lehman Brightman

"I want to tell you… the backbone of the Indian civil rights movement was not men… it was women… they were the damn backbone of it."

Clyde Bellecourt

"It was the women that stood up. I was confronted by a lady by the name of Gladys Bisonnette… who stood up in the back of the room… and asked me… confronted me… I was chairing the meeting… and asked me if I heard enough yet…"

Tashina Banks

"And they said, all right, if you AIM men aren't going to take us over to Wounded Knee, we're going to do it ourselves."

Dennis Banks

"We decided then that we would go to Wounded Knee."

01:35:23:02 Footage, driving to Wounded Knee Memorial

Dennis Banks

"There was some people lined up on the streets here… everybody knew that something was going to happen… people were cheering us and saying 'right on AIM'… my adrenaline in my system was pumping hard… I just felt… man, this is it."

01:35:46:16 Wounded Knee Memorial Sign footage

Eda Gordon

"Wounded Knee itself is an important symbol… you know, where 1890 massacre happened."

Wilmer "Stampede" Mesteth

Traditional Lakota Leader


"Way back in 1890 when Chief Big Foot and his people were

massacred there… they were under surrender and under high armed guard by troops… the next day, that's when they instigated them to fight and then they shot them down… unarmed people… men, women and children."

Eda Gordon

"To go back there… and say… this is the place that most symbolizes what the US Government has done to Indian people… and continues to do."

01:36:51:12 George Tennyson

U.S. Marshal (retired), South Dakota

"The caravan drove through Pine Ridge and toward Wounded Knee … we were sure that something was in the making."

01:37:04:11 Dennis Banks walking toward Wounded Knee Memorial


Wounded Knee Memorial

(mass gravesite)

01:37:09:02 George Tennyson

"Well they moved in and took over the entire community of

Wounded Knee… the only place of business there was a grocery store and they took that over… "

01:37:24:23 Wilmer "Stampede" Mesteth

"That's when the Marshals pulled in and once they surrounded them

and closed the roads off… nobody could get in… "

Cy Griffin

"Because we heard the FBI had set up roadblocks… we knew you could no longer drive out or in…"

Ken Tilsen

"They went there for a demonstration… they were surrounded by gun emplacements on all sides… and the alternative was to some how walk out and get shot."

George Tennyson

"We didn't go there to shoot Native American people… they had broken the law… we went there to protect the community."

Wes Studi

"It certainly couldn't have been their plan to get in there and get stuck… but that's what happened… they got stuck."

01:38:07:16 Photos of Wounded Knee during the 1973 takeover by AIM

Cy Griffin

"It was the first morning… the AIM Leaders spoke… and they're saying why we got to stay here… and they're all speaking in the sense that we got to stay together here."

Dennis Banks

"I knew from the military point of view that they would move to take action against us very quickly… I didn't know how far they would go"

01:38:34:00 News Reporter over news footage as described

"Air Force phantom jets flew overhead taking reconnaissance photos"

Wilmer "Stampede" Mesteth

"Jets were flying over… here come all these troops marching down the streets with guns and machine guns…"

News Reporter over news footage as described

"The Indians went through tribal ritual preparing themselves for battle."

Wilmer "Stampede" Mesteth

"So we were in the state of war."

George Tennyson

"The AK-47s was probably the most dangerous weapon that they had for us and the Springfield rifles."

Dennis Banks

"We didn't start the shooting… it was the BIA police that started the shooting."

George Tennyson

"It's been said that some nights as many as ten thousand rounds of fire were exchanged."

OLD PHOTOS of American Indian Vietnam Vets at Wounded Knee

Larry Anderson

Vietnam Veteran, Tribal Council member


"I knew this was my place to go to defend my land and my treaties… to defend my own people."

George Tennyson

"After several days of the takeover… Senator's Jim Abourezk and Senator George McGovern came to the reservation… I took them in to Wounded Knee where someone poked a revolver through the window and held it to my head… and asked a couple of questions… and the Senators got out and walked away and they had a meeting."

"There never ever seemed to be an answer for what they wanted… their goal was not negotiable because no one knew what it was."

01:40:25:09 Text appears on screen over frozen shot of Dennis Banks

AIM demands:

1. Congressional review of Dick Wilson administration

2. Oversight hearings on Treaties of 1851 and 1868

3. US Senate investigation on treatment of Indians

Ken Tilsen

"What was happening at that point was that intermittently the

US Marshals and FBI agents would let people in and media

would come in… "

Eda Gordon

"And all of a sudden all these Indian people started coming out of the woodwork, literally and saying we are going to go there in support."

Dennis Banks

"There was thousands of people who came here… two thousand people came here during that time."

Eda Gordon

"It was all these different people… and all had different histories… and Wounded Knee had brought them all together recognizing that there needed to be a focal point."

01:41:06:08 US Marshal over APC Tank footage moving to Wounded Knee

"We have a total of fifteen APCs into the area… hopefully we will successful in creating a tighter perimeter then we previously …"

Photo Journalist question

Kevin McKiernan

"Is this an attempt to starve them out?"

US Marshal

"I would not say that… this is an attempt to change their lifestyles to the point where they would like to come out… peacefully."

Dennis Banks

"They couldn't possibly starve us out because… that fact that… we have too many people that are concerned all across the country."

Russell Means

"To tell you the truth I would like to see them try it… because I can think of nothing more… creating more sympathy for our cause than this Gestapo-type action."

01:41:40:14 Clyde Bellecourt

"Fifty one percent of the American public supported the Indian people on the takeover at Wounded Knee… even the use of arms because there was no other resource to help them."

01:41:58:02 Photos of Wounded Knee during the AIM takeover

Dennis Banks

"Everyday I would get up every morning and I would make my rounds to go see how people are doing and… check on what the pantry looked like… it was getting bare. I would go up to the monument… I would go there and ask for spiritual help… I would say 'we're here for closure for one thing, to bring closure to the massacre but also to seek help from you."

Ken Tilsen

"The people there were together in a way that is hard to describe. There was just a total feeling of everybody's commitment to every body else. What little food was totally shared… everything was totally shared.

Larry Anderson

"We all met each evening and we had our little pow wows and then of course a lot of inspirational talks… we talked about life and we talked about our family… we talked about Mother Earth and Father Sky… and how it was revelant to our future way of life."

Leonard Wabasa

7th Generation Hereditary Chief


"It was about community… we were trying to bring back the old ways… we were demonstrating who we were."

LaDonna Harris

"And again they wanted to negotiate… so I called the White House again and they said 'okay, we're interested'… so just in a matter of maybe seven hours or so they called back and said 'we've got it all out'… and it wasn't a matter of just another day that the guy was shot…. so then it just went to pieces."

Cy Griffin

"During Wounded Knee we had some hot-heads. What broke one of the truces… one of our guys shot an FBI in the hand… there were occasionally people like that and it only took one them."

George Tennyson

"During that period of time there was many nights where a lot of gunfire was exchanged. Our United States Marshal from Omaha Nebraska was shot in the chest."

Ken Tilsen

"A U.S. Marshal was seriously injured… which we always believed was by crossfire that missed."

George Tennyson

"He was merely standing on an old car body and looking to the northwest toward Wounded Knee with his binoculars… he was shot through the chest and it severed his spine and he was.. parapalegic'd for many years."

Ken Tilsen

"Frank Clearwater was killed that next day."

Leonard Foster

AIM Member


"Two of our AIM warriors were shot and killed… Frank Clearwater and a week later…"

Tashina Banks

"My Uncle Buddy Lamont was shot and killed."

Dennis Banks

"We were in one of the bunkers when they said that somebody was down… and then word reached us that it was Buddy… we saw it where the bullet went right through him… when right through his heart and out the back… it was a very sad day… and there was a feeling if it went any longer… more people would have been killed … and I… I just couldn't… I couldn't bear the responsibility… the

responsibility of a leader that when people are killed underneath you… you just feel so lost and how do you tell their parents that that their son or daughter has been killed ."

01:45:51:18 Text appears

At this point the siege had lasted 71 days

Dennis Banks

"Everything was going against us… they had blocked off, sealed off all the roads… all the trails they were using to bring food in to us ammunition was down to like 5 or 6 shells per weapon… we only had like 10 or 15 at that point."

Dennis Banks with white beard

"We decided then that we would end it."

"There was a strong feeling that we had succeeded… but there was also a feeling that… we should have done more to accomplish more there."

01:46:47:05 Text appears

Dennis refused to surrender

He crossed the border into Canada

and stayed until bail was secured

01:47:04:11 Ken Tilsen

"Sure they wanted to destroy AIM… their choices were rather obvious… "

Mug shots of Russell Means and Dennis Banks

Dennis Banks

"We were being apart because of our time in the courtroom… some of our people were in Trail in Cedar Rapids, Iowa… some were in Trial in Sioux Falls, South Dakota… the Leadership Trial was happening up in St. Paul, Minnesota."

01:47:21:01 Text AIM Trial

Charges for Wounded Knee

Saint Paul

Ken Tilsen

"Well Doug Durham showed up some time before the end of the stand down… he made himself Dennis' bodyguard and confident."

Dennis Banks

"And I asked him, I said let me see… what are your skills… and he says, I'm a pilot… I started working with him and he was good at his job."

Ken Tilsen

"When we had the trials he was the gatekeeper… to see who could come in and out of the conference room… after all we had four lawyers and two defendants."

Dennis Banks

"We were flying back from Rapid City and he said you know what we should do, Dennis, we should get a bomb and we should bomb … we were looking at the capitol of Pierre, South Dakota… flying over it… and that's when I said… Doug, we're not about that."

Eda Gordon

"He acted like a provocateur."

Dennis Banks

"Russell Means didn't trust him… Clyde Bellecourt didn't trust him… but Dennis Banks trusted him."

01:48:33:03 New Reporter (John Chancellor) giving news report



John Chancelloer

"A chief security officer for Indian activists during the Wounded Knee takeover told a news conference today that he had been a paid informer for the FBI. His name is Douglas Durham."

News report

Douglas Durham

"For approximately two years, I was a paid FBI operative, operating in the American Indian Movement at the highest levels."

Dennis Banks

"I felt betrayed… the Federal Judge in our case asked the question … he said, 'I didn't know how far my government would stoop to gain a conviction against Dennis Banks… but now I know."

01:49:13:06 Text

All charges against Dennis Banks and Russell

Means were dismissed

01:49:18:21 Text

Custer Trial

Charges for inciting a riot in Custer, SD

Marshall Young

Judge, Custer Trial

Custer, SD

"All kinds of charges involving rioting… and assault… and

carrying a weapon while rioting…"

01:49:26:18 Bill Janklow

Attorney General of South Dakota

Dennis Banks

"Janklow was Attorney General for South Dakota… he ran on a hate campaign of hating the American Indian Movement… and he his post as Attorney General… and he came to prosecute me personally."

Marshall Young

"The trial was not going well because the lawyer that was

representing Dennis Banks was an Eastern Law professor and he just didn't relate to the people in Custer County… and I think it was halfway through the jury selection that Dennis Banks decided that he would takeover and represent himself."

01:50:00:18 De Glassgow

Sheriff, Pennington County

"I've never seen anyone do a better job of closing argument

then Dennis did… and I was in the courtroom that day… and I always tell people the courtroom was so quiet when he got done giving his closing argument that you could hear his footsteps as he walked back across the carpet."

Marshall Young

"And it wasn't until the trial when Dennis Banks gave his closing argument that I learned that "a good day to die" doesn't mean we want to kill you… its it's a good day for people to stand up for what they believe in… and if you have to be killed in the process… its still something that's worthwhile."

"So I think there were 22 or 24 counts and I think he was found guilty on two or three… he jumped bail and um… was on the run for a long time."

01:50:47:19 Photo of Dennis Banks


Dennis sought refuge in California

Tashina Banks

"And this is the time of our lives where my father was granted sanctuary by Governor Jerry Brown."

01:50:58:09 Jerry Brown

Former and Current

Governor of California

"I got the extradition warrant from… at that time it was Governor Janklow."

Marshall Young

"Janklow became governor and tried very hard to extradite him back from California but at that time Brown refused to extradite him."

Jerry Brown

"Dennis had been living a good life since he'd been here… he'd been a positive force in the community… and I thought given the historic relationship between the US and Native Americans… I thought it would be better to deny the extradition request."

01:51:29:18 OLD family photo of Dennis and his family


For the next seven years Dennis worked and lived in Davis, CA

Dennis Banks

"And then a new governor was coming in… a Republican

governor named Duekmejian…"

Tashina Banks

"So we moved… went to New York and we were living on the Onondaga reservation there…"

Dennis Banks

"Janklow was still trying to put pressure on Governor Cuomo… but Cuomo wouldn't listen to him."

Tashina Banks

"Then it was during our time in New York when my father decided to turn himself in… "

Dennis Banks

"To be confined to a reservation that was two miles by six miles… I thought… I didn't… I couldn't carry out what I wanted to do with my life."

Tashina Banks

"And it was to take place at the airport… they put the handcuffs on him… and I saw the press just running towards us. I was ten years old… I remember looking at my dad and he seemed at that point so vulnerable."

Marshall Young

"He came back and turned himself in and was sentenced. I don't think there was any advantage to him being gone for ten years… and I gave him the same sentence I would have given him if he would have showed up when he was suppose to…"

01:52:42:20 Photo of Dennis Banks behind prison fence


In 1984

Dennis was given a three year sentence

Dennis Banks

"But I was not depressed, because I knew that door

was going to open."


He served 14 months.

Dennis Banks

"There used to be a guard who tapped his nightstick all along here… but when I could see him coming… I could look through these and I could see him coming down there a little ways… and I'd sing… I'd sing the AIM song. Then those guys 'sing it louder, Banks, sing it louder'… then there were some other Indian guys underneath on the next tier down below me and they said…'go ahead Banks, do the lead and we'll follow'… so I'd… (he SINGS)… and they would join in… (SINGS)."

01:53:40:12 Tashina Banks over photos of Dennis Banks getting out of prison

"And I do remember being there the day that he got out… he just kind of walked out… (laughs)… there wasn't any press there… just us. You know, life sort of resumed… very quietly."

01:54:05:21 Tashina Banks

"At the height of Wounded Knee and that era… there was so much energy and so much enthusiasm… it had almost built up to a size that was not sustainable… I mean these men couldn't keep riding this wave at this height… it was too much… the energy had to come down… it crested and it was time for these men to go back to their roots… the men and the women…and so that's what he did… he came back to his roots… and he came to work on the Pine Ridge

reservation… he worked at the Lone Man School as a drug and alcohol councilor… and he started working with the kids… so then he started a series of runs and walks across the country…and around the world… and the message I think always is the same… what can we do to work on behalf of our people… and what is that common purpose so we can all be unified in doing that together."

"He just never stops."

01:55:16:05 Dennis Banks

"Did I achieve anything…?"

01:55:33:07 Jay WhiteCrow

"After those events began to calm down a little bit… there were opportunities through government grants and through training programs and other opportunities for Indians that were never there before… so it makes me think that that was worth it… you know that… if you… if you let the bully just keep smacking you in the face and you never do anything about it… and then one day you jump up and hit him with a rock… things are gonna change."

01:56:01:00 Lehman Brightman

"The started funding Indian education and they started opening up different jobs and we forced them to hire Indians in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, we forced them to hire Indians in the Indian Health Service… they weren't."

01:56:16:13 Charlie Hill

"They took the blows for us when nobody else did… and they had no blueprint… they had no one to follow. However their mistakes might have been along the way… there was an incredible contribution."

01:56:26:04 Della Warrior

"Because the message went out that… it's okay to be Indian and it's okay to be educated… it's okay to practice you're own religion… to practice your own singing and your dances… in fact, they're important."

01:57:06:22 Dennis Banks

"It was needed at that moment in history… and I'm sure it will come again… just as sure as this sun that comes up and goes down… when you abuse people… so long… that the only thing that they can turn to is confrontational politics… they're going to do that."

01:57:09:08 Text

AIM continues as a spiritual movement

that encourages Native Americans

to return to their traditional roots.

01:57:15:20 Credits roll

Produced and Directed by

David Mueller & Lynn Salt



Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, 2010


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Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

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