LEECH LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – With thin layer of new snow outside, family and friends came to celebrate the life of Dennis J. Banks on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota on Saturday.
The American Indian Movement flag provided a backdrop for the casket of Dennis Banks, who co-founded AIM in1968, as many those he touched during the almost half century gathered to pay homage to his leadership.
Several star quilts hung from the wall along a Oglala Sioux Tribe flag that was sewn in his honor.
Oglala Sioux Tribe hanging behind casket of Dennis Banks,
The standing-room-only crowd at the Battle Point Community Center came from many places in Indian Country from as far away as Japan.
A moving moment of the funeral service came when his daughter Tashina Rama spoke about how about her father, taken from his home and placed in a Indian boarding school was deprived of love by his mother.
“I came to understand how he as a four-year-old boy missed his mother’s love He did not receive love and affection that way,” she said.
“WE CAME TO UNDERSTAND WE HAD TO SHARE HIM. IT WAS NOT OUR CHOICE. WE KNOW HE WAS LOVED BY THOUSANDS—EVEN MILLIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.”
Many in attendance reacted with tears.
Chief Terry Nelson, the past grand chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization , who officiated the funeral echoed Rama on the impact of boarding schools had on American Indian children with lasting effects.
“Some ten-year-old children learned to cry faster and louder so that the beatings would end sooner,” said Chief Nelson.
Banks’ eldest son, Kevin Strong, spoke of how much he learned to admire the work of his father
“Some people have compared him to Martin Luther King. They had the same struggles as leaders. I think my father was more equivalent to Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. He was that great for our people,” commented Strong.