The Edgewood Declaration of the International Confederation of Autonomous Chapters of the American Indian Movement adopted by consensus at Edgewood, New Mexico December 18, 1993.
We are the American Indian Movement. AIM. We walk into the future in the footsteps of our ancestors, following the principles of our traditional spiritually, sovereignty, self-determination, sobriety, and mutual respect. Hence, we are firmly committed to the time-honored indigenous political perspective of the inalienable and inherent right of the people to decide for themselves, by a grassroots, democratic process, the nature of their destiny. It follows that we hereby declare and reaffirm that we are, in the manner of those who have come before us, an international confederation, an alliance of fully autonomous but reciprocally supporting chapters. Accordingly, each chapter of AIM agrees to advance the cause of indigenous sovereignty and self-determination within its own context and regional conditions. Decisions of local and state chapters are made independently and, given a legitimate local base and constituency, such decisions are to be accorded respect by other chapters.
Our reasons for making this declaration, regarding matters which many people might consider self-evident, concern certain recent assertions and resulting public confusion fostered by a small group of individuals based mainly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, calling itself the National American Indian Movement (N-AIM, or "name"; founded, by its own account, in July, 1993). Because of the nature of the false claims lately advanced by these people, and the publicity they have received on the basis of such lies, it has become necessary to publicly address and repudiate them. This is especially true with regard to the notion that there exists either a legitimate AIM "National Office" or "National Officers" with authority to appoint or remove local AIM members from whatever positions they occupy on the basis of chapter affirmation, or to dictate "policy" to the movement as a whole.
Let us be perfectly clear. There has not been a genuine national membership meeting of the American Indian Movement since 1974. Therefore, no membership authorization for a national office or national officers can possibly be said to have been obtained since that time. To the contrary, it has been specifically determined on at least two separate occasions during the intervening two decades that such a structure and/such titles are contrary to the interests of the movement and of American Indian people more generally. AIM leadership has always come from the bottom up - on a chapter by chapter basis - not from the top down. And the sporadic self-ordained "AIM National Leadership Meetings" conducted during the 1980s and '90s have done nothing to change this essential fact. Again we must be clear. AIM is not - despite statements lately issued by Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt, Carole Standing Elk, and others - a corporate entity, under the laws of the United States, the State of Minnesota or any other foreign government. Nor is it an entertainment enterprise, a personal fiefdom, a "career option," a medium for private profit, or any of the other things this fringe element seems to believe. Instead, AIM is a bona fide national liberation movement - open to the participation of all indigenous people, regardless of the "status" or "recognition" bestowed upon them by our oppressors - oriented specifically and exclusively to reasserting the sovereignty and self-determining dignity of our nations. Because of all these factors, we state without hesitancy or equivocation that we collectively reject all pretense to legitimacy or authority by N-AIM and/or those individuals it has unilaterally appointed to positions of regional or local "leadership" over the past several months.
Let it be understood by all those reading this document that we will no longer tolerate the divisiveness and disruption brought about by N-AIM or any similar entity. Beginning now, we have commenced the process of doing what is necessary to maintain the integrity of the American Indian Movement and the struggle it represents. All those who consider themselves allies, supporters or advocates of indigenous rights will respect our position, and respond accordingly.
New Mexico AIM
Northern California AIM
Southern California AIM
Also endorsed by telephone by Chief Billy Tayac, Mid-Atlantic AIM
Attendance photo taken immediately after the Declaration signing. Photograph provided by Bobby Castillo.