Leonard Peltier concerning Anna Mae Aquash murder investigation
May 1, 2003
Sisters, Brothers, Friends, & Supporters:
After so many years, it is a relief to see movement in the investigation of the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. It has always been my desire to have her murder solved. However, I caution everyone not to rush to judgment & instead to turn a critical eye to the government’s activities in this case. The government has yet to prove that those indicted for the murder of Annie Mae are guilty of any crime. I very much fear that innocent people may be railroaded, as I have been, into prison.
I am so concerned about another miscarriage of justice because of the visit I received from Bob Branscombe in the fall of 1998. He offered me a deal saying that if I helped to get a conviction against John Boy Patton (one of the men named in the present indictment), he could assure me that I would be granted parole. I couldn’t help because I didn’t know anything. I told him so. Branscombe told me this didn’t matter as long as I was willing to help. He said, “You’ll be released within ten days if you sign an affidavit against John Boy Patton.” I won’t ever accept being released in return for imprisoning someone who is unfairly convicted. But maybe there are others who find this kind of a deal acceptable? You can understand my doubts about how the government, aided by some of the media, will proceed in this case. Yes, we want justice for Annie Mae. But it’s not justice if people are coerced into falsely pointing fingers of blame.
It also is not justice if a full investigation into the FBI’s role in Annie Mae’s death is not included in the inquiry. Because the FBI told Anna Mae that they would see her dead within a year if she did not cooperate with them, & because of the way the FBI handled the incident of her death, I continue to believe that they were at fault for her murder. Any investigation that does not consider the fact that the FBI’s pathologist listed the cause of her death as exposure, despite the obvious bullet hole in her head, & then quickly had her buried before a positive identification could be made must be a bogus one. SA David Price was very familiar with Annie Mae’s appearance & saw her body after it was first recovered. I believe he recognized her & attempted to cover up her murder.
There are others who cry out for justice, too. What about Frank Clearwater, Buddy Lamont, Pedro Bissonette, & Joe Killsright Stuntz – to name only a few?
In the three years following Wounded Knee, Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson had the GOONs enforce his rules & anyone associated with AIM was targeted for violence. Their homes were burned. They were struck by cars, shot in drive-by shootings, & beaten. Between 1973 & 1976, over 60 traditionalists were murdered – Pine Ridge had the highest murder rate in the United States – & many more were assaulted. In almost every case, witness accounts indicated GOON responsibility, but nothing was done to stop the violence. On the contrary, the FBI supplied the GOONs with weaponry & intelligence on AIM, & looked the other way as the GOONs committed crimes.
As I have done many times in the past, I call on all of my supporters to urge the U.S. Congress to investigate the Reign of Terror. I believe Anna Mae’s murder was the direct result of the FBI’s activities on Pine Ridge. I say this not because I believe Annie Mae was an informant. No. I never believed nor took seriously rumors that Anna Mae Aquash was an FBI informant. I believe, instead, that Anna Mae was murdered because she was a skilled organizer & leader for our people. There is no clearer example of FBI misconduct than the Reign of Terror. The events that happened there should not be allowed to be forgotten nor covered up by time.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,