Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory| The American Indian Movement and the Politics of Nostalgia: Indigenous Representation From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock

Clementine Bordeaux


Founded in 1968, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is a source of a complicated nostalgia for Indigenous activists today. AIM orchestrated many direct actions that remain instructive touchstones, including the 1973 occupation at Wounded Knee. Still, the organization has also been characterized by a masculinism often found in its famous iconography. During the 2016 mobilization against the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL), common invocations of AIM by mainstream media revealed the contrast between these moments of struggle. Analyzing this contrast through the visual record of each mobilization, the author argues that nostalgia for AIM presents an opportunity to work through the colonial imposition of heteropatriarchal norms. Current Indigenous media makers have begun the work to demonstrate emancipatory gender politics that provide an elaboration of Indigenous representations of relationality, thereby attesting to the connections among feminist, queer, and ecological consciousness. Foregrounding the importance of tribal specificity, the author focuses on media produced on and of Lakota tribal homelands.


Indigenous, media, nostalgia, relationality, representation, resistance

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