The February 6, 1973 American Indian Movement (AIM) protest in Custer, South Dakota epitomized the relationship between Whites and American Indians that historically existed in the state. AIM came to Custer to protest the overt racism that they perceived. They confronted Custer's citizens with their minds closed to rethinking how racism existed in the community. Reacting to AIM allegations, the White community denied all real charges of prejudice and racism even though they truly existed in the primarily homogenous White town. They chose instead to hold onto their own preconceived notions about themselves, while refusing to hear the complaints raised by the Native protestors. By denying all racism, the White community reinforced the American Indian stereotype that Custer was an overtly racist community.
American Indian protestors and White Custerites approached the protest with their own, only partially true conceptions about racism in Custer, and Indian/White relationships in South Dakota. Because the groups confronted each other with predetermined beliefs about the other, they both were unable to recognize the real extent of racism that existed within Custer. In reality, it lay between both groups? perceptions, but by holding onto preconceived notions about themselves and the other, both perpetuated the racial divisions that continue to exist in modern-day South Dakota.
|Commitee:||Burrow, David, Hilderbrand, Robert|
|School:||University of South Dakota|
|School Location:||United States -- South Dakota|
|Source:||MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American history, Native American studies|
|Keywords:||AIM, American Indian Movement, Custer, Race, Racism, South Dakota|
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