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Brutal Illness Led to Activist Clyde Bellecourt’s Death at 85


Clyde Bellecourt, a founder of the American Indian Movement, has passed away at 85. Clyde Bellecourt’s cause of death has been revealed by his family.

Bellecourt passed away Tuesday morning from cancer at his home in Minneapolis, Peggy Bellecourt, his wife, said. Lisa Bellanger, the current co-director of AIM, also confirmed his death.

Brutal Illness Led to Activist Clyde Bellecourt's Death at 85

Bellecourtwho was born on May 8, 1936, on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. He was a co-founder of the American Indian Movement in 1968.

The movement began as a local organization in Minneapolis that aimed to grapple with issues of police brutality and discrimination against Native Americans.

Under Bellecourt’s leadership, American Indian Movement raised awareness of tribal issues related to the federal government, monitored police brutality in Minneapolis, created welfare programs for urban Indians, and established Indian ‘survival schools’ in the Twin Cities to teach children to help them learn their traditional cultures.

He formed the Trail of Broken Treaties, a march to Washington, DC in 1972 to serve as a first step to renegotiating federal-tribal nations’ treaties and relations.

Bellecourt also founded non-profit groups to undertake economic development to help Native Americans.

His Ojibwe name was Nee-gon-we-way-we-dun, which means “Thunder Before the Storm.”

Bellecourt lived in South Minneapolis with his wife and their four children. He continued to direct national and international AIM activities.

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Clyde Bellecourt’s Cause of Death Revealed

As his wife reported, Clyde Bellecourt’s cause of death was related to cancer. The leader in the Native American struggle for civil rights died on January 11, 2022. May he rest in peace.

After the sad news of Clyde Bellecourt’s death was revealed, his friends and social media users flooded social media with tribute messages. Many fans also took to Twitter to pay Pigonant tributes to him.

“Clyde was a really good man and influenced a lot of people,” Winona La Duke, an American Indian activist and the executive director of Honor the Earth, said. “He was very influential in my life.”

Brutal Illness Led to Activist Clyde Bellecourt's Death at 85
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“Sad to hear that elder Clyde Bellecourt has started his journey. The history of AIM is hard, and I had my share of run-ins with Clyde, but there’s no doubt that much of my much of my experience as a native kid in Minneapolis was shaped by his life-long commitment to our people,” Ashley Fairbanks said.

Manilan Houle wrote: “Much will be said about Neegon-we-waywedon also known by Clyde Bellecourt, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement. And as we reflect on your impact on our people’s way of life, I want to say chi-miigwech as you journey home. Rest in power.”

“We’ve lost one of the few remaining OG leaders of the American Indian Movement, who took back Wounded Knee in 73 & was involved in virtually every other battle we’ve waged since. Rest in Power, Clyde Bellecourt. Tell Russell, Carter, Dennis, Deb & the rest that we miss them,” Ruth H. Hopkins wrote on Twitter.

“Cannot begin to explain what it meant as a youth to b seen and told that there was no undocumented people on stolen land and that the heartbeat of my ancestors is connected to the land of the Americas. That I was home and I was loved. Rest in power and light, Tata Clyde Bellecourt,” Emilia Gonzalez Avalos said.

Ian Coldwater tweeted: “Rest in power, Clyde Bellecourt. You were complicated and full of stories and scared the shit out of my teenage self and this town won’t be the same without you.”

Crystal Wiyaka wrote on Facebook: “It saddened my heart to hear that Clyde Bellecourt has walked on. I remember once in high school we got to the AIM section of the history book. And I told my teacher I knew him. She didn’t believe me but I said that’s my uncle and I can bring him in.”

“I called and he definitely accepted coming in. He talked bout the early days of the American Indian Movement. And all the work they did. I was so proud at that moment in time. He gave me my first AIM shirt that day in front of everyone.

“Definitely a memory that I’ll never forget. I am sending love and prayers to everyone he touched. Definitely, a man who helped our people. Toksa ake until next time,” she added.

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