Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Word Wars: American Indian Movement agenda versus the United States’ judicial system. In a smoothly written analysis of the 1974 trial of Russell Means and Dennis Banks for "criminal acts" committed during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, John Sayer provides an evocative chronology of events and ideals that influenced the St. Paul trial. Woven throughout the narrative are parallel examples of historic revolutionary movements and leaders, a device allowing readers to compare and contrast the possibilities and pitfalls inherent in ideological revolutions. Set in the turbulence of Watergate and media hysteria, the Wounded Knee trials lead Sayer to ask how influential the press is in bringing public opinion into the courtrooms of America.