American Indian Movement spokesperson dies, age 75
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
, once the primary spokesperson for the , died recently at age 75. Bellecourt, an who fought for Native rights, was perhaps best known for his .
First in the headlines in 1972, Bellecourt organized a cross-country caravan of the Movement, to Washington. Once there, members of the group occupied the Libyan Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, and Palestine's . In 1977 was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the murder of two FBI Agents during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; Bellecourt led the campaign to free him.offices. His goal of international recognition for nations and their treaties found him meeting with figures like
His work as president of themade a much wider known mark, though. Bellecourt emphasized that he believed such names perpetuated racial stereotypes, clouding the real identities and problems facing natives.
Teams with native-related names could almost guarantee on Bellecourt showing up at major games. He twice burned an effigy of National Football League made the , Vernon was there to protest. The was critical of such names by 2001, calling them "insensitive in light of the long history of forced assimilation". Some newspapers have stopped using the names of teams with Native origins., the baseball team mascot, and both times was arrested. When the Washington Redskins of the
None of his "big four" targets have shown any indication of changing: the, the , the Cleveland Indians or the .
Post-season use of American Indian mascots were banned by thein 2005, suggesting the names are "hostile or abusive". Bellecourt was pleased with the NCAA sanctions, but suggested such actions were only going "half way".
The Florida State Seminole and the Illinois Illini were among the 18 colleges affected by the ban. Florida president T.K. Wetherell threatened legal action in response. The Florida tribes have endorsed the University's usage of the name, but some out-of-state tribes were "not supportive", according to the NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion.
- Douglas Martin. "Vernon Bellecourt, Who Protested the Use of Indian Mascots, Dies at 75" — , October 17, 2007
- Nick Coleman. "Nick Coleman: Bellecourt helped change our perception of state history" — , October 16, 2007
- "COLLEGES; N.C.A.A. Bans Indian Mascots in the Postseason" — , August 6, 2005