Neeta Lind (navajo) posts a beautiful tribute to Carter Camp who walked on the afternoon of Dec. 27, 2013.
Much has been written about Carter, but many have not heard of him. He was one of the original organizers of the American Indian Movement, a pan-Indian movement sparked in part by the civil rights movement of African Americans. He led our people on the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan in 1972 from the West Coast to Washington, D.C., to protest the hundreds of broken treaties and other agreements the U.S. Government forced the tribes or their chiefs to sign. Nixon officials refused to meet with them. That led to AIM’s seven-day takeover of the BIA headquarters in Washington, D.C., which ended with some government concessions. It also led, as Meteor Blades recalls, to the liberation of BIA documents that were passed along to journalists and lawyers. “We carried out box after box of documents,” inspired by the people who “stole documents from the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania,” in March 1971. In the winter of 1973, Carter and other AIM leaders took over the small town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation. Gun battles during the 71-day stand-off with federal officers left three dead. Wounded Knee was chosen for the takeover because it is the location of a massacre of at least 150 Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota Indians in 1890. After their bodies had lain on the frozen ground for days, they were dumped into a mass grave by the 7th Cavalry. It was a historically appropriate site for the American Indian Movement to bring national attention to the struggles of the Lakota and all Native peoples. At the time of the takeover, it was the view of AIM and many traditional Oglala Lakota that the Pine Ridge reservation was being terrorized by the BIA police and enforcers under the control of Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson. At his blog, Ben Carnes, a family friend, wrote a lovely entry about Carter’s life. Below is his account of the final ceremony:
Yesterday evening after conclusion of ceremonies at the center, Carter led us in his last caravan to his final resting place at the Ponca Tribal Cemetery. I estimated a two-mile procession as vehicles pulled over on both sides of the highway a show of respect. As we turned left towards the cemetery, I saw one elderly Indian man who had parked on the side of the road and stood beside his truck, a solitary figure wrapped in a blanket with his fist held high in the air giving honor to a warrior. It was a very tearful moment for me seeing this.At graveside more prayers were offered and written statements were read, including one from Leonard Peltier. Then it was done, families and friends began making the trip home. As I drove home, I reflected upon the past few days. It had ranged from sadness/grief to exuberance and celebration when it was announced that Carter Camp would be receiving a citation from the State of Oklahoma recognizing him for his lifetime of service to Native people.