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Larry Bringing Good and Shelia Hansen during Thursday wake to celebrate the life of Dennis Banks on Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert.

In Memoriam - Dennis J. Banks (1937 - 2017)

LEECH LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION - Dennis J. Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), made his final journey home to the Leech Lake Indian Reservation  on Thursday afternoon where he will be laid to rest on Saturday. Banks, one of the most prominent American Indians of the last century, made his journey to the spirit world on Sunday night at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He walked on 10 days after undergoing open heart surgery.

Dennis Banks addresses the rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Photo by Weldon Grover.

Hundreds of American Indians from across Indian Country are gathered at the Leech Lake Indian Reservation to bid farewell to the reservation's most famous tribal citizen. The reservation is located 190 miles north of Minneapolis.

To some being there was a reunion of sorts for some who have participated with AIM at Trail of Broken Tears caravan and AIM's 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. Yet, to some, a reunion of those who have participated in Longest Walks along side Banks.

Banks' older brothet, Mark Banks, 85, offered an emotional tribute to his younger brother at the wake held at the Battle Point Community Center at Federal Dam, Minnesota on the reservation on Thursday evening.

85-year-old Mark Banks, Dennis Banks' older brother at Thursday's wake. Photo by Levi Rickert

The older brother, who made a name for himself as a disc jockey and television host under the name of Johnny West, spoke of having Dennis on his show and not telling the audience that Dennis was his brother.

"I always paid attention to what he was doing. Whether it was at Wounded Knee or when he led AIM during the takeover of the BIA building in Washington, I was watching. Our mother would have proud of us. I was always proud of my brother. I love my brother," said Mark Banks.

"When I was young, I remember hearing my mother hollering in her room with her sister by her side. Dennis was being born. I heard him take his first breath. And, this past Sunday I was with him when he took his last breath," said Mark Banks.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Faron Jackson, Jr. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert

Banks was born on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Though he moved a lot because of his work with AIM, Banks returned here to spend his remaining years of his life.

"We were always proud of him. He would sometimes come before the tribal council meetings to simply give advice and keep us up on what he was doing. Sometimes, he would make recommendations. He told us never to allow the pipeline to come through our reservation and we won't let it happen," stated Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Faron Jackson, Jr., who says Banks was a mentor to him.

The memorial services for Banks continue on Friday at 12 noon and 7 p.m. and the funeral on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Battle Point Community Center at Federal Dam, Minnesota.

Banks will be buried at the Battle Point Cemetery at Federal Dam, Minnesota.

 

 

 

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]