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Banks was a Native American activist, teacher and author. Banks was one of the co-founders
of The American Indian Movement (AIM), with fellow Native Americans Russel
Means and Clyde Bellecourt. AIM was formed in 1968 with the commitment of supporting
fellow Native Americans and bringing to light unfair federal policies and
practices against fellow Native Americans. This was done by takeovers and
occupations. Sadly, Banks passed away on October 30, 2017.

            Banks was born on April 12, 1937, on
an Indian Reservation located in Leech Lake, Minnesota. At the age of five,
Banks was uprooted and sent to a series of schools ran by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA). These schools, “…sought to Christianize or “civilize” their
pupils” ( To “civilize” the students, the schools downplayed
or made the students forget about their Native American culture. Due to this
Banks lost the ability to speak his native language. After his graduation from
the BIA schools at the age of 19, Banks entered the US Air Force. Banks was
released from his service sometime in the late 1950s. Upon his release Banks
returned home to Minnesota, upon his return, Banks had a hard time adjusting and
fell into a cycle of “poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and crime.” In a quote
from Banks on he states, ‘”I was heading down a road that was
filled with wine, whiskey, and booze” Banks later recalled. “Then I ended up in
prison”‘ ( In 1966, he was sent to jail, while in jail he met
the other two co-founders of AIM. Overtime the movement began to spread and
gain more members. 

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