Leonard Peltier’s Response to Anna Mae Investigation
Open Letter written – 9/29/99
Open letter from Leonard Peltier in response to reports from the recent press conference regarding Anna Mae Aquash:
I have just received and read a report written by Chris Nicholas about the recent press conference held in Canada in regard to Anna Mae. I am very shocked and saddened by what is being said and the misinformation and outright lies that are being spread about what happened to her and what has happened to me. I have not said anything up until now because I do not want to be involved in an investigation carried out in part, by Robert Ecoffey and the RCMP. Ecoffey was responsible for much of the terror and corruption that existed on Pine Ridge in the early 70’s. The RCMP, working with the FBI, submitted a fabricated statement against me over a year after I was arrested by them in Canada.
This statement has been used to justify my continued incarceration. Who would trust such sources to carry out an investigation into one of the many, many, people who were murdered in conjunction with the FBI on Pine Ridge during that era? I did not want to be involved in this, but now it looks like I must submit a public statement documenting my stance because I very much fear that innocent people will be railroaded as I have, into prison, and the governments of Canada and the U.S. will be happy to have given AIM the image of a vicious and corrupt terrorist organization which we absolutely were not. Am I saying that everyone who was in AIM was perfect? No. Am I saying that AIM is today what it was back then? No. But, what I am seeing is a clear attempt to destroy a very valid civil rights movement in order for those involved to both benefit and profit from Anna Mae’s death. Future movements for the rights of our people would always have to fight this unjustified image and work extra hard to be given any validity at all.
First off, I would like to start by offering my condolences to the family of Anna Mae and by expressing my strong desire to have her murder, along with all of the other murders that took place during that era, solved. I have been pushing for this since the beginning. And, though I am aware that her death was possibly carried out by an informer, a pawn of the FBI, I am convinced that justice will not be done until a complete investigation into the FBI’s involvement on Pine Ridge at that time is carried out.
Bob Branscombe, who is leading this investigation, cannot be trusted for several reasons. He says he is Anna Mae’s cousin and this is the reason why he has committed himself to finding out who killed her. However, he only found out about his Indian blood two years ago. Most importantly, he visited me in the fall of 1998 claiming to have a way to get me out. He came in to see me and offered me a deal saying that if I helped them to get a conviction against John Boy Patton, he could assure me the government would look upon this favorably and I would be granted parole. I asked how he knew they would do this. He said that he spoke with the DA in Colorado and she said she was willing to help get me out of prison. I replied that I could not help because I did not know anything. He said that it didn’t matter as long as I was willing to help. I then replied, “Are you telling me you want me to be a Myrtle Poor Bear?” He said, “well, you would be released within ten days if you would sign an affidavit against John Boy Patton.” I told him that I could not believe he was sitting there asking me to be the same type of person who lied against me and cost me my life. I am ready and willing to testify to this in court, under oath and after taking a lie detector test. Furthermore, Chris Nicholas, who is also involved in this, did not know Anna Mae, yet he is trying to portray himself as being her close friend.
He told me that he had only seen her once, briefly. I ask all Native people and the Pictou family to beware of these two men. I am sure they are in this to profit off of Anna Mae’s tragedy. Bob Branscombe’s new book about all of this is clear evidence. What angers me the most is that these men are now trying to force me into being involved in this; they are dragging me into something that I am against and something I know Anna Mae would have been against. They are even trying to use me as some sort of bargaining device against my will, stating that I will be released because of all of this. I would never accept being released in return for imprisoning someone unfairly convicted. Please know, I have seen the tactics they are using and I would refuse my release as a result.
Nicholas is saying that Anna Mae was murdered by AIM members because she was going to announce who killed the agents on Pine Ridge. She was not there and did not know. She signed an affidavit clearly stating this. Anna Mae was murdered because she was a skilled organizer and leader for our people. Independent investigators testified, right after her body was recovered, that there was absolutely no sign of rope burns on Anna Mae’s wrists and that she had gone willingly, either with the police or with someone she knew. They also testified that there was no evidence of rape. So I ask you to look critically upon this latest controversy and to keep in mind what I have told you. Yes, we want justice for Anna Mae. We want justice for all of the people who died at the hands of Dick Wilson, the BIA and the FBI. It is not justice when people need to be coerced into pointing fingers as was attempted with me. It is not justice if a full investigation into the FBI’s role in all of the deaths is not carried out.
In the Spirit Of Crazy Horse,
PO Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048
[Source: Bobby Castillo, Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, posted to the People’s Path website]