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Carter Camp, Indian activist, dies at 72

Thursday - 1/2/2014, 8:00pm  ET

File - In this March 3, 1973 file photo, a U.S. flag flies upside down outside a church occupied by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), background, on the site of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, S.D. AIM's occupation of Wounded Knee triggered a violent standoff with federal authorities. Carter Camp, a longtime activist with the American Indian Movement who was a leader in the Wounded Knee occupation in South Dakota, died Dec. 27, 2013, in White Eagle, Okla. He was 72. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

KRISTI EATON
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Carter Camp, a onetime activist with the American Indian Movement who was a leader in the Wounded Knee occupation in South Dakota, has died in Oklahoma. He was 72.

Camp's sister, Casey Camp-Horinek, said Thursday he died Dec. 27 surrounded by family in White Eagle, Okla. Camp-Horinek said her brother had been suffering from cancer for the past year. Services for Camp were held Tuesday.

Camp, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, was a member of the American Indian Movement, organizing more than 30 chapters in his home state of Oklahoma, Camp-Horinek said. The American Indian Movement was founded in the late 1960s to protest the U.S. government's treatment of Native Americans and demand that the government honor its treaties with Indian tribes.

He had a leading role in the Trail of Broken Treaties in 1972, in which a caravan of Native American activists drove across the country to Washington, D.C., to protest treaties between tribes and the federal government. They took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs for several days.

The following year, Carter headed to South Dakota with other AIM leaders, including Russell Means and Dennis Banks. There they organized the Wounded Knee uprising, a 71-day siege that included several gunbattles with federal officers. Means died in 2012 at age 72.

"He was the only person in (a) leadership position in Wounded Knee who never left Wounded Knee, not to go out and do press junkets, not to go and sit in a hotel for a while. None of that. He was a war leader there. He stayed inside with his warriors," Camp-Horinek said of her brother.

While several people in leadership roles went on trial for events that took place at Wounded Knee, Camp was the only one to ever serve time. He spent two years in prison in Leavenworth, Kan., for assaulting a postal inspector, a charge Camp-Horinkek disputes.

Camp later left the organization.

In recent years, Camp's focus turned to the Keystone XL pipeline, which he bitterly opposed. Once completed, the contested pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada down the midsection of the country and into Texas.

Though Camp was notified nearly a year ago that he had only a few months to live due to the cancer that had metastasized into his lungs, kidney and liver, Camp-Horinek said her brother's strength of spirit allowed him to take part in a sun dance, a sacred religious ceremony, in South Dakota last summer.

Camp will be remembered as a warrior, a spiritual leader and a kind family man, Camp-Horinkek, 65, said.

"As a sister, what I remember is kindness, a big brother who sat on the porch and read the Sunday papers ... who made popcorn and fudge and had an arm around my shoulders -- in the physical sense and the other sense of always being there for me," she said.

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Follow Kristi Eaton on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kristieaton .


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