Monday, October 29, 2007

Vernon Bellacourt: In Memoriam

This is a beautiful tribute to the great AIM co-founder and Indian leader who passed last week in Minnesota. Mr. Bellacourt was a tireless fighter for the rights and dignity of his fellow Indians, and also contributed and worked with others for the human rights of all. I am still learning about him myself, albeit too late to say to him how much he was appreciated by ALL human rights fighters.


From: Janice Denny <>
Date: Oct 24, 2007 11:00 AM
Subject: Vernon Bellecourt

In Memoriam

On December 15, 1966 Walt Disney died of acute circulatory collapse,
caused by lung cancer, at age 65. Outside hanging on the wall in the
Intensive Care Unit at Abbot Northwestern Hospital where Vernon
Bellecourt was fighting for his life is a print of a lone microphone
spotlighted, and the cartoon characters standing aside that Disney
created, hanging their heads. I stood staring at the print for minutes
at a time while the doctors and nurses worked on Vernon day after day. I
was horrified that the print might reflect the end result here. On a
beautiful fall day in Minneapolis, it did.

The American Indian Movement Website and office received hundreds of
emails and phone messages from the four corners of the world after the
news spread about Vernon's passing into spirit. Tears flowed and
disbelief prevailed.

Vernon was so filled up with life and positive energy, and he infected
everybody around him with it. The hard reality that Vernon's life was
over affected everyone around him, and everyone who knew him with
profound sadness. Vernon was hardly ever sad except for when he lost
family members, and his dear friends, Jerry Roy, Dick LaGarde, and Kwame

Vernon's agenda was always full speed ahead on the issue of the day, and
his unbending will in getting the job done was infamous. You had to
understand that in order to live around, and live with Vernon. His
passion was justice for Indian people everywhere, period. That passion
took him all over the world, and his last trip took him to Venezuela. He
came home full of happiness after meeting people from the Wayuu Tribe
there, and other Indigenous people throughout South America. He was not
well, but he was happy. He was worried too because there were a lot of
issues to deal with as usual. He worked until I finally took his cell
phone away from him in the hospital so he could rest.

The National Coalition on Racism in Sports in Media was organized to
combat racism. Vernon was at the head of the helm because he, like so
many Indian people, experienced racism very early in life. Vernon also
worked for his people in White Earth, and he never forgot his roots. His
work took him across Canada, throughout the U.S., into Central America,
and South America. He traveled to Africa, Europe, Aotearora (New
Zealand), and to the islands, Cuba, the Carribean, and so on. He raised
issues, consciousness, and hell.

Vern was selfless and candor. The love of family was solid. He would
have given them the world if he could. It was kind of hard to remember
his laughter last week, but now I do. His laughter was infectious too,
and his silly jokes. For 27 and a half years I laughed with him, worked
with him, and lived with him. I mean really lived with him.

He was always saying, he would not live to see 80. He did live to see
some change as a result of the American Indian Movement and the
International Indian Treaty Council. He will also live on through the
stories that we all have like, remember the time when Vern had the idea
to take his AIMster friends into the heart of "redneck" territory to a
farmhouse pancake breakfast...

Vernon had a mountain of friends, and they came to support him on his
final journey. I am eternally grateful for all of you, and deeply thank
you for everything. I was continually amazed how easy it was for him to
make friends, and converse with strangers. He gave a little of himself
to everyone he met.

He would hate that he caused so many tears, and made people so sad. He
would prefer that you raise a little hell like he did.

..Janice Denny

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