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A Thank-you for AIM

December 6, 2011

Tonight Faith and I listened to Clyde Bellecourt tell, in person,  his first-person story of the founding of AIM, the American Indian Movement. While AIM advocates today for the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world, AIM began the summer before I turned two, a half hour’s drive from my childhood home.

I grew up to be a historian who studies the history of race relations between European-American and Native American peoples and traveled half way around the world to adopt a non-Indigenous child who was prenatally exposed to alcohol. Last spring, she and I held hands as we crossed the parking lot of the first Native-founded Native American health clinic in the United States because Native American doctors and doctors who serve Native Americans here are the foremost experts at diagnosing the physical characteristics of FASD.

Native American historians say that alcohol was unknown on the North American continent before it was introduced by the same people who dubbed them “Indians.” Hundreds of years later, Native clinics are expert in FASD.

So this mother’s heart gives thanks for you, AIM: for founding the clinic, for funding the education of thousands of Native medical clinicians, for advocating for sobriety.

I am not Native. But FASD creates a sober kinship.

Mitakuye owasin.

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