Walk in Beauty, Carter Camp

Via commentor Aji, a beautiful tribute by Kossack ‘Navajo’ honoring a beautiful warrior:

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…

Carter’s sister, Casey Camp-Horinek said that unlike other AIM leaders, Carter remained at Wounded Knee throughout the entire siege with his warriors. He was also the only leader to spend two years at Leavenworth federal prison for disputed actions during the siege. For him there would be no book deals, no film roles, no adoring groupies just service to the Indian people and the respect of those who knew of his sacrifice…

Carter Camp’s own words:

In 1973 the fires of our traditional peoples were burning low and everyone thought they would soon die out. But a “Movement” happened across the USA led by young people who were determined not to allow that to happen. It took many years and plenty of fighting and struggle with a determined enemy who wanted our disappearance to solve his own “Indian Problem.” But quitting or stopping was not an option when so much was at stake.

We won, and our ways are no longer endangered with extinction. Our people have many battles yet to fight as you [Meteor Blades] and Navajo outline each week in this powerful series. But the flames of our fires now burn from shore to shore on this, our turtle island, and they will never go out.

At Wounded Knee in 1890 the Americans thought they had won a final solution. But, at Wounded Knee in 1973 we showed the world how wrong they were as we relit the ancient fires of the Nations. I’m proud of that.

Much more at the link.

53 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Good move AL.

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    Sorry for the early OT, but Denver could be in the midst of blowing a game even worse than last year; the entire city of Denver may have to be kept far from sharp objects

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Thank you for front paging this, Anne. Indeed, Carter Camp was an amazing individual.

    Yet Dick Cheney continues to be animate.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    Such a lovely tribute. As I said below, the two photos of him holding the phone are really amazing. Definitely click through to GOS to check it out.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Not to mention Sonnergrunt.

  6. 6
    Aji says:


    Anne Laurie, in my language, chi miigwech (“many thanks”) for doing this. Such a beautiful gift to us right now.

  7. 7

    Thank you for acknowledging his life.

  8. 8
    raven says:

    @Aji: What was your view of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee? Dee was on the faculty at Illinois when I was there and I knew his son.

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @raven: Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the Museum of the American Indian, back when it was still centered in NYC. Even in the 1960s, there was a lot of criticism that G.G. Heye and his curators tended to treat “Indian culture” as more of a historical topic than the records of many vibrant peoples. But among my few cherished childhood mementos is a beautifully carved cherrywood bear figure, just a couple inches long, from the AIM gift shop (it took me weeks to save up to buy it, when I was nine or ten). The museum assured me there was so much more to “American” history than ‘Columbus, conquistadors, Pilgrims, pioneers’ — and also that the children of those who made those amazing artifacts were still working to hold on to their rights and honor their ancestors.

  10. 10
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Aji: I’m the one honored to be able to share this!

    ETA: I’d seen the WaPo and NYTimes obituaries, but they were… extremely inadequate. Didn’t want to be another white eye jumping in with my outsider misunderstandings!

  11. 11
    Aji says:

    @raven: As with everything written by a non-Indian, mixed is probably the most succinct way of putting it. Up to that point, probably the best account – certainly the most willing to explore the Lakota side, more or less on their terms. Also certainly plenty of inaccuracies, and plenty of cultural disconnects, but it did spark a revolution in how non-Indians looked at us and our collective history.

  12. 12
    seefleur says:

    Truly a man of integrity… I would hope to see more acknowledgement of his impact besides on the intertubes of BJ and DKos. He made an impact on a lot of people who only knew OF him, but never met him.

  13. 13
    Aji says:

    @Anne Laurie: I just burst into tears, and Wings asked me if I was okay. I told him why, and he’s a little teary now, too. He says thank you to you, also [in his language, ta’a].

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @Aji: Thanks

  15. 15
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Anne Laurie, thank you so much for front-paging Aji’s link. Carter Camp was clearly an extraordinary individual, and I’m only sorry I didn’t know about him prior to his “walking on” (that is such a lovely expression, by the way).

    Aji, if I neglected to say so in your earlier comments, you and all who loved and respected Mr. Camp have my deepest sympathy for your loss.

    And AL, you have redeemed yourself fully for CatcherDrummerGhaziGate.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aji: Significant people should be remembered – and celebrated.

  17. 17
    Aji says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: You may have; I’m kind of scattered right now. Either way, if you did and I didn’t say it before, thank you.

    @Omnes Omnibus: Agreed, and thanks.

  18. 18
    Cervantes says:


    And AL, you have redeemed yourself fully for CatcherDrummerGhaziGate.

    Not sure I’d go that far.

    But yes, thanks to Aji and Anne.

  19. 19
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    In the words of my ancestors. Wa do. Ga li e li ga. Thank you. You have gladdened my heart.

  20. 20
    Aji says:

    @Anne Laurie: LOL – would that everyone thought twice like that. I’ve seen some really beautiful things written about him in Native media, and then, yeah, there were those.

  21. 21
    Aji says:

    @raven: Meant to add: Did you take a class from him? And what was his son like?

  22. 22
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I won’t argue over a few degrees one way or t’other.

  23. 23
    gogol's wife says:


    Co-sign. Anne takes a lot from us, cheerfully (usually).

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    Glad to see this tribute to Carter Camp. Did not know of him during his lifetime, most sadly.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @Aji: No, I was in Poli Sci in those days. Mitch was a film maker and he shot some great footage of some of us in a brawl with right-wing “insurgents” in a wild 4th of July melee.

  26. 26
    Aimai says:

    Thanks for posting this. Mourning and celebrating must go hand on hand. If you get a chance, aji, how about putting up a short syllabus of what you think are the most important NA histories and texts for understanding current issues? Ive read a lot of anthropology and law but im curious to read what you feel really speaks for you right now.

  27. 27
    Aji says:

    @raven: Too funny. Call it a documentary recording the “insurgency” and make a fortune on royalties. :-D

  28. 28
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Second this. I’d really like to see a syllabus or reading list for those of us who are not students or scholars, but merely interested laypersons.

    BTW, I have a very good friend who is a First Nations Canadian, worked for a few years for the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa. I’m sure he is well aware of Carter Camp, but I forwarded him all the links just to be sure. Let’s not forget Canadian Native peoples as we look into syllabi.

  29. 29
    Aji says:

    @Aimai: LOL – that changes sort of moment to moment. I guess a lot depends on what you’re looking for: History? Over the long term or more recent? Cultural? Arts? Fiction? Ways of understanding Indian cultures? That alone is a long-term project. :-D

    Actually, I guess if people are really interested in it, I could put together some recs for Indian authors in various general areas. Might take me a few days. One thing I always, ALWAYS recommend: Go straight to the source. Don’t bother with non-Indian interpretations, because they always get it wrong, for a host of reasons (I can detail some of those issues, if folks want). There are some things that are not available to outsiders, nor are they meant to be. Of those things that are, getting it from the people themselves is more respectful, and by far more accurate.

  30. 30
    BobS says:

    I’m saddened to learn of his death, but I appreciate your post.
    Thanks to a mutual friend, I shared some space and time with AIM members in Arcata back in 1972, shortly before The Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan in October. While I was originally a little intimidated- these guys were the warriors Carter Camp wrote about at the link- that didn’t last, and I remain grateful for the grace and hospitality they showed the ignorant white kid.
    I’d also like to remind Balloon Juice readers that Leonard Peltier remains unfairly imprisoned by the US government and urge the many Obama supporters here to contact the White House requesting a presidential pardon of his sentence.

  31. 31
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Aji: If you ever felt like putting together something on this topic — and I know it’s a huge project even as an introduction! — I’d be more than happy to front-page it.

  32. 32
    Aji says:

    @Anne Laurie: Wow! That’s so generous of you, Anne Laurie. Thank you.

    How about this: I’m so swamped this time of year, in part because we have so little light. It strikes me that this might be something better addressed in sort of bite-sized pieces anyway. I used to do a weekly NDN news round-up over at the GOS until their interface started making it impossible for me to load the site half the time. I’ve got some stuff already written, obviously, but also tons of stuff in mental and digital files that would need to be organized. Maybe take one section, compile some stuff, shoot it to you, see what you think, and if you like it, you can post it whenever it’s convenient for you? And if it works, then I can take another chunk and do likewise. Would that work?

  33. 33
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Aji: That would be excellent!

    At your (ha, ha, I know) leisure…

  34. 34
    Aji says:

    @Anne Laurie: LMAO. What is this “leisure” of which you speak? I do not know this word.

    Okay, give me like a week or so, and I’ll see what I can put together for you to look at. And thank you – this is so cool!

  35. 35

    Carter is apparently featured in the “Wounded Knee” episode of “The American Experience” — you can watch it online here.

    I know that Aji misses him very much on a personal level as a friend/surrogate older brother and not just as a political figure, so I’ll send some more ((((hugs)))) along for that part.

  36. 36
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Thank you, AL for the fp and link. Aji, my condolences. It is a loss for all of us.

  37. 37
    joel hanes says:

    Would a donation in Carter’s honor to The First Nations Development Institute be fitting ?

    Or is there a better place?

  38. 38
    LT says:

    Thank you for this, Anne Laurie.

    Sincere condolences, Aji.

    In the course of preparing for an an article just two or so years ago I learned history I sadly did not know about Native Americans in the 20th century – the actual federal plans to disappear the culture and blend it into wider “American” culture – and what the drummers in Ontario (I think it was), did, then the AIM, and many the many protests and occupations they did in the U.S. and Canada – what they did to revive a sadly sleeping giant. Just – wow. Amazed to learn that CaCamp was such a big part of that.

    My condolences.

  39. 39

    Also, museum exhibits are trying really, really hard to correct the errors of the past now.  I just saw the “Junipero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions” exhibition at the Huntington Library and they did (what seemed to be to me) a pretty good job not only of pointing out the negatives and positives of mission life, but also making people aware that the affected tribes outlasted the Spanish and the Franciscans and are still around today.

  40. 40
    Aji says:

    @joel hanes: Hi, joel – I just saw your post in the other thread, and here’s what I said there:

    @joel hanes: You know what I think he’d like best of all? A donation to the Indigenous Environmental Network. he worked with them in his later years. Carter was a tireless opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands development in Canada and the U.S., and tracking, and he manned the blockades even after notified his prognosis was terminal last year. He always admired the work IEN did to save the environment, and I think if you were able to ask him, that would be the tribute he would choose.

    Thank you for asking. And I think he’d be honored that you asked.

  41. 41
    Cervantes says:

    @joel hanes: Can’t say it’s better or worse but Dineh Cooperatives, Inc. is also a good place whose work I know personally.

  42. 42
    Aji says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Thank you, hon. Yeah, Wings and I are both feeling pretty raw right now. But we also believe he’s still with us, just not in a way that’s visible to us in the usual way.

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): Thank you so much. And I agree; it really is.

    @LT: Thank you; I appreciate it. And, yes, “assimilation” was the polite word; “genocide” was the real goal. The best interpretation was “Kill the Indian; save the man.” You know, for Xtianity. But they were perfectly happy to stop with the first clause. The real history is far uglier than anything that’s ever been taught in U.S. schools.

  43. 43
    Daffodil's Mom says:

    @Anne Laurie: Omigosh, this is exciting — I’m mostly just a lurker, but thank you! O wow! And hopefully, Aji, we’ll hear from, and about, Wings too? :~) Just this past year I accidentally (!) discovered my (very carefully hidden) native heritage, and am trying to learn as much as I can, but I’m so, so thirsty and it’s so hard to find stuff that’s really real. Just another reason this is my favorite blog!

  44. 44
    LT says:

    @Aji: Just sucks that I did not realize what the fuck was going on when I herd abou tthe “Indains are buring tires and closing the highway!” when I was a youngster in Western New York. What fucking balls.

  45. 45


    I don’t think there’s an American equivalent, but there’s a terrific movie from Australia called Rabbit-Proof Fence which is the true story of three Aboriginal girls who escaped from their school and walked home … across the entire continent of Australia.

    It’s mostly the story of the girls’ journey, but it also does a good job of showing just how convinced the Europeans were that they were right in trying to “make the Aborigines white,” and just how deluded they were in that conviction, and how much damage they did with their beliefs.

  46. 46
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Aji: Indeed it is. My first – among very few – trips to see the principal was in first grade (1965) when I raised my hand during “history” (or whatever they call it all that age). My question was “why do we call the Indians the bad guys when the settlers just took over their country?” Or however that was expressed by a 6 year old me.

    My teacher said I really should discuss that idea with the principal. Who to his credit, did not try to dissuade me, but commented that I’d offered a different take from most.

    I confess that I only heard of Carter Camp from Dennis, when I met him in the early 1990s. My ignorance was/is a source of shame. I was still happy to meet Dennis, who lived in the area at the time.

  47. 47
    Daffodil's Mom says:

    @Aji: I responded to AL but should have addressed it to you — I am SOOO looking forward to anything and everything you have to say. This has just absolutely made my day! I can’t even imagine how busy you are, between horses, dogs and, erm, life, but I’ll be on pins and needles just waiting. ;~)

  48. 48
    brettvk says:

    Aji, I’m very much looking forward to your reading recommendations. Aimai, thank you for suggesting it.

  49. 49
    satby says:

    Aji and Wings, deepest condolences. The warriors who occupied Wounded Knee were heros to many of us. And thanks for also letting us know where we can make a tribute donation in Carter Camp’s honor.

  50. 50
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): and very sadly, are still doing. Reading Aji’s comments brought to mind the parallels with Aussie Indigenous history. It sucks. Australia day or invasion day, depending on how you look at it (ha) on 26th of this month.

  51. 51
    Cervantes says:

    @Debbie(aussie): Be glad you have just the one; we have “Columbus Day” and “Thanksgiving.”

  52. 52
    Aji says:

    Sorry – I crashed early last night. Thanks, all of y’all. I’ll do my best to make everything informative while still being accurate, culturally as well as factually.

  53. 53

    Thanks for front-paging this tribute to my long-time friend and brother-in-struggle, Carter Camp.

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