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Ancestor Nowa Cumig (Dennis Banks) of the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.)
Ancestor Nowa Cumig (Dennis Banks) of the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.)

Since the beginning, native people lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us. It is a belief that all human kind are related to each other…we believe we are related to all living species: the winged ones, the four-legged, the plant life, and the elements of life — air - fire -water. The sun, moon and stars are there to guide us…

Dennis J. Banks

A-APRP Honors Ancestor Nowa Cumig (Dennis Banks)

The All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) is truly saddened by the death of our Comrade Nowa Cumig (Dennis Banks), co-founder of the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.). Nowa Cumig (which means “in the center of the Universe”), made his transition on 29 October 2017 at the age of 80. Born on the Leech Lake Reservation in Federal Dam, Minnesota, he was like millions of this territory, a victim of American settler-colonialism. While in the Air Force and stationed in Japan, Nowa Cumig was inspired by the plight of the Japanese farmers fighting to save their land. He was also inspired by the relentless struggle of African people in America during the 1960’s.

Nowa Cumig dedicated his life to the uplift and liberation of humanity from the land grabbing white supremacy tyranny of capitalism and imperialism. This was especially true of his work for the many indigenous communities, in the U.S. and globally. It was in this capacity that he co-founded A.I.M. in 1968 along with Clyde Bellecourt and Russell Means. His willingness to do what was necessary is evident by the many cultural and political actions he lead, such as the Longest Walk in 1972 and the Wounded Knee stand-off in 1973. These actions brought the people a real sense of pride in being indigenous!

The A-APRP is especially proud of our long-standing relationship with A.I.M. and Nowa Cumig. The A-APRP was present and supported some of the historic actions taken by A.I.M. such as the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1972. Likewise, A.I.M. stood up for Africa and joined in resistance to the travel ban to Libya in 1986.

A.I.M. Spiritual Leader Fred Short (l) with A-APRP Comrades Akubundu and Bandele at Homegoing Ceremonies for Nowa Cumig 4th November 2017
A.I.M. Spiritual Leader Fred Short (l) with A-APRP Comrades Akubundu and Bandele at Homegoing Ceremonies for Nowa Cumig 4th November 2017

It was a great honor for the A-APRP to have been present on Friday and Saturday (3-4 November, 2017) on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota for the Celebration of Life and funeral services of Elder, Brother and Comrade Nowa Cumig (Dennis James Banks). The ceremonies, which were held from Wednesday (1st November 2017) to Saturday (4th November, 2017) were attended by Indigenous Nations, friends and supporters from throughout the world, including from as far away as Japan. Many of the messages were prayers for Nowa Cumig’s journey to the Spirit world and for the youth and the Indigenous communities ongoing fight against drugs and health issues – concerns Brother Dennis was committed to during his life. The atmosphere in the gatherings were filled with the warrior spirit as the elders shared their stories of resistance, friendship, and commitment to community. During the Celebration of Life, the A.I.M. song of commitment was sung by Dennis’s granddaughters and great granddaughters. As the community joined in the song, those in attendance could feel the determination to continue the path and the way Nowa Cumig had lived.

Part of the full house at the Battle Point Community Center in Federal Dam, Minnesota, U.S. during Homegoing for Nowa Cumig on 4th November 2017
Part of the full house at the Battle Point Community Center in Federal Dam, Minnesota, U.S. during Homegoing for Nowa Cumig on 4th November 2017

More Photos and Videos can be seen here

Important Details

Born April 12, 1937
Leech Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota, United States
Transitioned October 29, 2017 (aged 80)
Rochester, Minnesota
Nationality Ojibwe
Other names Nowa Cumig
Occupation Teacher, lecturer, activist, author
Children 13

Music, Film and Books

Discography

In 2012, Banks joined forces with Golden Globe and Grammy Award-winning artist Kitaro in celebration of the Earth on the CD Let Mother Earth Speak. The project contains a message of international peace intertwined with stories and life lessons from Banks featuring the music of Kitaro. The album was released on September 11, 2012, on Domo Records.

Filmography

Autobiography

Banks, Dennis and Richard Erdoes (2004). Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3580-8