I Will: How Four American Indians Put Their Lives on the Line and Changed History (Hardcover)
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A unique portrayal of four members of the American Indian Movement--with fascinating full-color images created by Leonard Peltier!
In I Will, Sheron Wyant-Leonard weaves the personal recollections of four members of the American Indian Movement--Leonard Peltier, Dennis Banks, Dorothy Ninham, and her husband Herb Powless--into a unique narrative to expose their trials and tribulations over the course of two decades.
When the last gunshots of the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century faded away, a dark and desperate time began for Native American people. Poverty, neglect, and hopelessness hung over the land. But as the seventies dawned, a powerful movement for change by newly urban Indians was born with the words “American Indian Movement.” This story includes a brief look at their childhoods as told by the people who lived it, including their government boarding schools, reservation life, the fight against termination, and the founding of their resistance with building takeovers and government saboteurs, a prison escape, including the largest FBI manhunt in history. They walked the line between courage and fear and changed the direction of Native history forever.
About the Author
Sheron Wyant-Leonard was born in the heart of the Jim Crow south in Montgomery, Alabama, to an Army Airborne Ranger and a mother who worked for the Department of Defense. Drawn to the arts at a young age, she worked in the American theatre with legendary director Adrian Hall and studied with renowned playwright, Donald Freed. Her play about the AIDS Quilt, titled In Stitches, was an early indication of her serious talent. She takes on the hard issues of Human Rights and the human struggles that have often evolved unfairly in American society. Her stories examine the heart, written with the clever hand of a dramatist. Her characters understand both the humor and the profound sadness born of a poverty not of one’s own making. She resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Finally, the one we’ve been waiting for, this book is a true examination of the heart.”
—Jack Healey, former Director of Amnesty International USA
“Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Sheron Wyant-Leonard adds a dimension to the American Indian Movement narrative that demands its place among the story of this country. This book captures the essence of the American Indian Movement in the tragedy, triumph, and above all, humanity, of the individuals portrayed.” —Judge Kevin Sharp, U.S. District Court (2011- 2017)
"While working in a community radio news department during the 1970s, I aired many reports on AIM-related events. Back then, I thought I knew what was going on. After reading I Will, I realize I barely knew a single thing."
—Jill Hannum, former News Department co-director, KPFA-FM
“During the Wounded Knee siege in winter of ‘73 on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, roadblocks were set up to keep out the press. Herb Powless, (featured in I Will) arranged a two-day overland trek to get me inside the besieged compound. I owe my films to that."
—Kevin McKiernan Pulitzer Prize-nominated foreign correspondent; creator of The Spirit of Crazy Horse and From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock films
"I Will humanizes history, uplifting the tenacious and courageous love that mobilized a world-changing movement for Native rights. Wyant-Leonard reveals the inspiring life spark carried through extraordinary individual leaders who lit the way for future generations."
—Gabrielle Tayac, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Public History at George Mason University
"Sheron Wyant-Leonard has a poet’s way with words and understands that it is the details, closely and freshly observed—a glance between friends, the feel of falling snow, one night’s alignment of the stars, the manifestations of hunger or fear or joy—that make a story, even about important, troubled times, come to life. I Will weaves into the arduous paths of four people who ended up leaders of the American Indian Movement insights about love, courage, determination and the wisdom of native ways. The result manages to be both heartbreaking and inspiriting." —James Silk, Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights at Yale Law School