A Small Step for Man, A Giant Leap for My Research


“The Longest Walk: Activism and Legislation in Indian Country.” NMAI. The National Museum of the American Indian, July 1, 2016. https://blog.nmai.si.edu/main/2016/07/the-longest-walk-activism-and-legislation-in-indian-country.html

This article follows the Native American Activism through the context of The Longest Walk, it highlights some of the key moments from TLW in 1978, and how that march impacted the Native American Civil Rights movement. It also touches on how the American Indian population still uses this form of activism to bring awareness to issues today.

Minnesota Historical Society Digital Collection

“American Indian Month Button, 1984.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10132333&return=brand=cms&q=Fort%20Snelling%2C%20American%20Indian&spatial[]=Minnesota&yearrange=1968-2000.

This button from the 1984 American Indian Month in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a good comparative red and black button that highlights the typical imaging, coloring, and artwork that can be seen in other civil rights movement artwork from the time and before it.

“American Indian Movement Button.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society. Accessed 3AD. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10268880&return=brand=cms&q=American%20Indian%20Movement.

This red and black AIM button from around 1968-1970 is a perfect depiction of the style of imaging used in AIM right’s movements; this style is simplistic but powerful, it delivers its message without the use of unnecessary words.

“American Indian Movement Flier, 1991.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10334957&return=brand=cms&q=Fort%20Snelling%2C%20American%20Indian&spatial[]=Minnesota&yearrange=1968-2000.

This flier was distributed in Minneapolis before the 1991 World Series that was hosted at the Humphrey Metrodome between the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves. The Flier is a letter from the American Indian Movement and community, addressing the insulting and racist use of the word “Brave” as in an “Indian Warrior.” Even today, Native Rights organizations and communities are addressing these concerns about defamation and blatant cultural appropriation.

“American Indian Movement Wounded Knee Button.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10300066&return=brand=cms&q=American%20Indian%20Movement.

This Wounded Knee Button from AIM, created in 1974, was made to commemorate the protest that was staged in Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota which occurred just a year earlier in 1973. This button also contains the signature red imaging and artwork, although the background color is white and not black like most buttons from AIM. This button also contains the iconic peace sign, which is very prevalent in other Civil Rights movements at the time, the peace sign also takes the place of the Native’s ceremonial feathers/headdress.

“National Abortion Rights Action League Button, 1980s.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society.http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10137887&return=brand=cms&q=American%20Indian%20Movement%2C%20Civil%20Rights&startindex=26&yearrange=1968-1980.

I chose this button because I felt that some of its themes resembled that of AIM’s and other civil rights movements. This button was created for the National Abortion Rights Action League, and I chose it because I have noticed a theme of hands, or raised hands/arms in civil rights artwork, and even though this is a depiction of the Statue of Liberty, I feel like she is one o the most iconic hand-raising figures in the modern world, her outstretched hand is a sign of welcome and hope for the people who see her.

“Women’s Liberation Movement Button.” mnhs.org. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display?irn=10081347&return=brand=cms&q=American%20Indian%20Movement%2C%20Civil%20Rights&startindex=26&yearrange=1968-1980

This button, from the Women’s Liberation Movement, is a black and pink pin, contains similar imagery to AIM and other movements, this pin also contains the imagery of a raised fist, a pretty constant theme in Rights movements.  

The Smithsonian – National Museum of African American History and Culture

 “Pinback Button for CORE and Black Power, 1966.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Smithsonian. https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2012.159.3?destination=edan-search/collection_search?page=1&edan_q=%2A%3A%2A&edan_fq%5B0%5D=topic%3A%22Civil%20rights%22&edan_fq%5B1%5D=date%3A%221960s%22&edan_fq%5B2%5D=date%3A%221970s%22&edan_local=1.

This is a black and white colored button that was made in support of Black Power and the Congress of Racial Equality in 1966, two years before the formation of AIM. I felt that it’s style and coloring was comparative to the other buttons, pins, and artwork from the 1970s.

“Pinback Button for the Women’s
Bail Fund, 1970s.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. The
Smithsonian. https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2013.68.22?destination=edan-search/collection_search?edan_q=%2A%3A%2A&edan_fq%5B0%5D=topic%3A%22Civil%20rights%22&edan_local=1&op=Search.

This pin, from the 1970s in support of the Women’s Bail Fund, is also depicted in red and black, which shows it likeness to many AIM buttons through its coloring; it can also be compared to the other pins that contain depictions of an arm/hand.

“Sign from a Segregated Bus Station in Birmingham, Alabama.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Smithsonian. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2011.130?destination=edan-search/collection_search?edan_q=%2A%3A%2A&edan_fq%5B0%5D=topic%3A%22Civil%20rights%22&edan_local=1&op=Search.

This sign is from Birmingham, Alabama in 1957, at this same time in the State of Minnesota, Native People were being moved off of reservations and into urban areas. The American Indian Civil Rights Movement happened at roughly the same time as the African American Rights Movement.

One thought on “A Small Step for Man, A Giant Leap for My Research

  • Great titles and I like that you have a dedicated research section on your blog. Very effective way to organize course content!

    What you have here is quite good, though some additional secondary sources would certainly be helpful. Have you found any scholarship on the iconography of civil rights? Of indigenous activism? Native American activism? If you’re having trouble finding large sources of data, these secondary sources may ALSO provide links to collections (hopefully public) that you might explore. I would prioritize secondary sources, in other words, until you get a firm grasp on the literature.

    Good start.

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