Monday, 19 March 2012

Costuming of AIM protests

AIM (American Indian Movement) has been around since the 1968 when it was first founded and so it has gone through a wide variety of styles of protests and costuming.

In the photo of the 1968 American Indian Movement protest there are several people wearing outfits with traditional tasseling or beading as though to visually point out that the traditional culture is still very alive. In this photo you see that it does seem a peaceful march and one can even see that there are young children marching with the adults. The large sign being held up could have been the predecessor to their symbol today(the black, yellow, white and red flag)

Armed Native Americans Man Roadblock
Armed AIM Roadblock courtesy of Soldiers For The Cause

1992 Anti-Columbus Day Protest
That being AIM has also had violent direct actions for example armed roadblocks as well. In this photo we can clearly see that these individuals associate themselves with AIM and have even spay painted it on the side of the vehicle. In this case though, there are no children, only men and guns.

This is a protest against Columbus Day because some people feel that it is improper to have a holiday in the name of a settler and feel that it does a diservice to their ancestors who died in conflicts against the settlers. I would like to point out that the foremost banner is from AIM however to the far left there is a darker banner that appears to have writing that appears to be of asian origin on it. This is one thing I noticed about AIM; they often have other groups protesting with them or they protest with other groups.

American Indian movement activist Glenn Morris is arrested during protests to halt the annual Columbus Day Parade in 2007 in Denver. (AP photo)
"American Indian movement activist Glenn Morris
 is arrested during protests to halt the annual
 Columbus Day Parade in 2007 in Denver." 
Courtesy of The Buffalo Post

This is Glenn Morris one of the leaders of AIM being arrested during the annual repeat of the march seen above. I would like to point out the use of AIM's colours on his clothing in a fashion that is similar to clothing that you might see in an aboriginal history museum. I would point out what red may represent but I mentioned it in my last post. However, I did want to add that in the archaeological record, many native cultures used red ochre in their burials and sacred places so the colour red has had a strong meaning and value in the native cultures for many years.

In many Native protests there is someone dressed in traditional style clothing or clothing that follows some part of the traditional clothing style. I believe that this is meant to be a visual representation of the enduring power of native cultures. It tells the viewers of the protest that the traditional culture is still alive today and that there are people who are proud to be Native, Indian, Cree, Blackfoot, James Bay Cree, status or not, however they chose to identify themselves. It sends the same message as the image said in my first post: We Shall Remain.

Another use of a tradition in protest is the use of drumming which is often accompanied by singing and dancing. The amount of noise that just ten drummers can make would be enough for protesters to draw attention to their cause but imagine over a hundred dancer, singers, and drummers.

Occupy Denver-Native American Glenn Morris, AIM-Colorado
"Glenn Morris, a leader of the American Indian Movement
 of Colorado (AIM) addressing Occupy Denver October 22"2011.
 Courtesy of Carol Berry

This is another photo of Glenn Morris speaking to the Occupy Movement in Denver. In the foreground right we see a young woman and in this case, all of the individuals are wearing modern style casual clothes.

In comparison with the last photo, this photo seems to have a very different feel to it. In the foreground we see the AIM flag but instead of the casually-clad people in the last photo the flag is hoisted by people wearing almost militant gear. This row looks more like a row of flag bearers preparing for a battle than the young children we saw in the first image. I would also like to point out that the third flag down the row is the Red Power United flag whom I talked about in my last post as being a more violent direst action group.

Overall, I would saw that AIM does not have as standard a costume as some other groups may nor do they have a standard style but their adaptability may be what has made their group so popular.

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