AIM Southern California Chapters Position Paper
Indians Helping Indians
The American Indian Movement (AIM) Southern California can't help but keep a strong and visible profile, including numerous
community projects and activities in the name of AIM. We are the "new progressive" AIM, a proactive advocacy organization
registered as non profit corporations. Check out our southern California chapters at www.aimriverside.org, or www.sandiego.org.
However, we still subscribe to the Principals and Philosophy of the AIM Grand Governing Council at www.aimovement.org.
We want people to know that AIM is not the boogie man they think we are. We are not militants, That is a label the government
uses to classify people so they can legally circumvent citizens civil rights. We are warriors and have been for thousands
of years. Hate and violence is NOT our way and never has been. But we will defend our people with our last breath. AIM is
a spiritual movement of dedicated warriors. We mean no harm to anyone and desire to practice our traditional and spiritual
culture in peace. As one who performs all the pre-production news stories for our successful radio show, it affords me the
opportunity to understand the daily struggle in Indian country. The caseloads are overwhelming and at times it seems endless.
This government can apology to Japanese Americans, Black Americans and others, but they can not even apologize to the Indigenous
Americans. They humiliate and insult Indian people with the federal holiday called Columbus Day. Asking Indian people to celebrate
Columbus Day is like asking Jews to honor Hitler. History books may have been written by the victors, but that does not necessarily
mean that the words are true. AIM is about bringing the truth into the light that others may not have to stumble in the darkness.
We replace lies and deception with truths for our people. We place our people and culture above our own self interests. Understand
that the American Indian Movement has been around since 1492. However, we did not give it a name until 1968.
For 400 hundred years the dominate culture has been on the offense taking everything from Indian people. In the 1960's and
70's AIM came into being and was able to maneuver the federal government in a stalemate position. Some of the Indian achievements
were accomplished by legislating the Indian Civil Rights Act, the Indian Religious Rights Act, etc, etc. Today, Indian people
and tribal governments are on the offensive, it is now our TIME. The dominate culture is on the defensive trying to hold on
to their ill gotten gains taken from American Indians. However, the difference is that we are not stealing it; we are legislating
it back, or winning legal court decisions and even buying it back. Sadly, it scares the dominate culture resulting in what
appears to be a rise in Indian discrimination.
Today, I read countless active legal cases. For example, a tribe in Ohio is suing for over 145 square miles that was taken
from them in violation of their treaty rights. Numerous non Indian communities are trying to stop Indian governments from
buying back original lands and placing them in trust, thus taking the land out of the community tax base. In Roseburg, Oregon,
two non Indian city council members are accusing Indians of "Stealing their land" due to a planned convention center to be
constructed by the Cow Creek Tribe. This land will be placed in federal trust as reservation land. Therefore, the city will
lose the tax revenue from the land. Indians stealing land? Now that is one nobody would have seen coming.
Our new strategy here in AIM is to play by the rules and beat them (government & political institutions) at their own
professional game. We are encouraging Indian youth to enter law and politics, but never forget their traditional or spiritual
ways so as to not succumb to the dominate cultures morals of greed and ego; better known as the, me, myself and I or the instant
gratification culture. Understand we are neither republicans or democrats, nor liberal or conservatives. We are Native American
Indians with a unique spiritual culture. Our new goal is to not tie our future survival to any one political party, but to
play both sides to our own political advantage as they have played the divide and conquer strategy against Indian people for
hundreds of years.
The new energy in Indian country is Unity. Recently returning from a conference in Minneapolis as guest speaker I spoke to
representatives from over 500 tribes. Unity was the theme and my phone has not stopped ringing from Indian people all across
America looking to unite. It was made clear that if we (American Indians) could speak as one voice America would have to listen
and sit down to the table of peaceful dialogue. This month we launched AIM Riverside Chapter, (www.aimriverside.org) as a
non profit Corporation similar to the San Diego Chapter with others coming soon.
How can America claim to be this great moral power in the world when it has its own back yard to clean up, namely Indian issues?
We don't mean to take away from other minorities issues, but Indian issues are very complex and comprehensive. America will
truly achieve its greatness when it can come to terms with all the treaty, legal and civil rights issues that need to be resolved.
Let the negotiations begin that we may all live in a truly equal America for all.
by: Marty Firerider Hiles