The UNO Libraries announced recently that all the interviews conducted by students of Emeritus Professor Michael Tate from 1970-1980 are available as part of the Omaha Stories: Oral Histories of Omaha, Nebraska project. While the interviews were conducted by several interviewers working on different projects over several years, a number of recurring subjects and themes present themselves in multiple interviews. For example, the 1973 seizure and occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by Oglala Sioux and American Indian Movement (AIM) activists are discussed by several interview narrators.
Albert “Al” Trimble was elected the Oglala Sioux Tribal President in 1975 and interviewed in 1976. Trimble defeated the notorious Richard A. “Dick” Wilson. In his interview, Trimble shares information about his personal history, social and economic realities confronting Native Americans, development on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Tribal Council election, and related topics.
In the 1975 oral history interview of the Director of the Sioux Indian Center, Alex Lunderman, Brule Sioux, discussed many things, including current conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as well as Wounded Knee, the occupation, and related events.
A 1975 interview with members of the board of the Omaha Sioux Indian Center included Alex Lunderman, Charles Scutter, Louie Mooncamp, Steven Greenberg, and others. The interviewees spoke about the Wounded Knee trials and their plans to support their fellow American Indians during the trials including with pow wows and other fundraising.
The 1977 interview with members of the Sioux Indian Center of Omaha’s board members also touches on Wounded Knee and Native American civil rights. Participaing board members were Jim Hogner, head spokesman, Pat Faircloth, board member, Jim Faircloth, board member, Ike Clunen (spelling?), board member, and Buddy Young, board member.
In 1975, Father Paul Manhart shared his experiences working on the Pine Ridge Reservation after the occupation of Wounded Knee along with other topics.
Daniel Sheehan was interviewed in 1976 to share his thoughts on Native American civil rights in the 1970s as well as the Wounded Knee trials. Sheehan was a lawyer who had worked on civil rights matters for F. Lee Bailey’s firm. He was invited to be trial counsel for the Wounded Knee trials by the regional office of the American Civil Liberties Union. These included the cases against Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Vernon Bellecourt, Clyde Bellecourt, and others.
Warren K. Urbom was a U.S. District Judge in Lincoln, Nebraska when he was asked to hear some of the trials after the occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. These were nonjury trials of folks considered to be outside of the leadership of the occupation.
James Wilson was a U.S. Magistrate in charge of the Wounded Knee trials. In his 1975 interview, Wilson discussed background on tribal and reservation judicial processes before sharing specific information about the trials from his perspective.
These and dozens of other interviews are part of the American Indian Oral History and Omaha Folklore Project Oral History Collection in UNO Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections.
Interested in learning more about events at Wounded Knee or Native American history? The library’s Native American Studies Research Guide is a good place to start.
Visit the Omaha Oral History Blogs to learn more.
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