History, Department of


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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: History. Under the Supervision of Professor John R. Wunder.
Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2009
Copyright © 2009 Jason A. Heppler


This study explores the relationship between the American Indian Movement (AIM), national newspaper and television media, and the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan in November 1972 and the way media framed, or interpreted, AIM's motivations and objectives. The intellectual and political currents present in the 1960s, including the ideas of Vine Deloria, Jr., and the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, influenced the development of AIM's ideas about militant tactics and the role media played in social movements. AIM entered the national stage with the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in late 1972 and used television broadcasts and print media to disseminate their ideas for federal policy reform. Media often missed the purpose of the Trail of Broken Treaties, instead focusing their narrative around a different set of political issues. Early reports of the Trail of Broken Treaties were sparse until the occupation led to a substantial increase in coverage, though what was considered “newsworthy” by the media differed from the issues activists hoped to raise. Final reports focused on the cost of the occupation, legal proceedings in the aftermath of the occupation, and high-level changes in the hierarchy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Interior.
Adviser: John R. Wunder

The attached zipped file (bottom of page) contains the digital project that served as a component of the thesis.

Heppler_frpThesis.zip (2321 kB)
Zipped file of digital project

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