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Adams extends condolences on death of Native American activist Dennis Banks

30 October, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has extended his “sincere condolences to the family and friends of renowned Native American activist Dennis Banks who died at the weekend."

Gerry Adams said:

“Dennis Banks was a co-founder of the American Indian Movement in 1968 in the USA. Their focus was to challenge police brutality and the appalling living conditions of Native American citizens. AIM also sought to promote the culture and the rights of the Native American peoples and to campaign for housing and jobs.

“In 1969 Dennis Banks took part in the occupation of Alcatraz Island and he was a central figure in the confrontation between Native Americans and US Federal Authorities at Wounded Knee in 1973.

“Dennis travelled to Ireland on several occasions. I met him during some of his trips. So too did Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly and others.

“Martin was very interested in the struggle of the Native American people and was hugely supportive of their efforts to secure better conditions and to have their rights and languages respected.

“Dennis was also a director of Sacred Run, an organisation he founded in 1978 to focus on Native American spiritual concerns. In 1997 he brought the run to Ireland. It is a multi-cultural, international event with participants joining Native American runners to carry the message of peace and concern for our environment. The run took several weeks and included stops at Kildare, Carlow, Cork, Galway, Donegal, Derry Antrim, Belfast and Dublin.

“While the runners were in Belfast an evening of ‘Irish and Native American Cultural Exchange' was held in the New Lodge Road area.

“Dennis was passionate about the rights of Native Americans. He was totally committed to their cause and was an inspirational leader. He worked for sixty years to end poverty and to win equal rights for his people. He also campaigned for the release of Leonard Peltier who has now spent 40 years in prison.

“To his family and friends I want to extend my sincere condolences and sympathies on behalf of Sinn Féin. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

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