Indigenous Social Movements in North America

Susan Morrissey Wyse


Indigenous social movements throughout North America, while varying according to specific local contexts, often share common grievances, goals and obstacles. As these movements attempt to address issues such as land rights, self rule, and resources, activists have implemented vastly different strategies in order to accomplish their goals. This paper examines two indigenous social movements — The American Indian Movement, which was most active in the United States during the 1960s, and Idle No More, a Canadian aboriginal movement that began in 2012. The aim of this research is to understand how these movements’ strategies and organizational structures have shaped their impact on indigenous rights in North America. In particular, the comparison focuses on the level of centralization within each social movement, as well as the use (or non-use) of confrontational and violent tactics. The research finds that while there are
many similarities between both groups, the major differences in strategy and structure have presented their own unique challenges for each social movement.

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