Jason Heppler, “Framing Red Power: The American Indian Movement, the Trail of Broken Treaties, and the Politics of Media.” M.A. Thesis.

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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

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Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.