Our Freedom

Honour Anna Mae Pictou Aquash and Harriet Nahanee / Free John Graham and Leonard Peltier

The Deception of the Federal Government: AIM and the Anna Mae Aquash Case June 9, 2008


WINTER 2004-2005
(Lakota Student Alliance)


“I am part of this creation as you are, no more and no less than each and every one of you within the sound of my voice. I am the generation of generations before me and the generations to come. If I have gone against this Creation- no man on this Universe holds the power to punish me other than the Creator himself.

“You are continuing to control my life with your violence, materialistic needs. I do realize your need to survive and be part of this Creation — but you do not understand mine.

“I have traveled through this country and I have observed your undisciplined military servants provoke those whose rights are the same as yours.

“I am not a citizen of the United States or a ward of the Federal Government, neither am I a ward of the Canadian government. I have a right to continue my cycle in this Universe undisturbed.”

– Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash (Mi’kmaq)

Let us travel back to a time in the 1970s on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It was a time for a new Indian uprising. The US Government had deployed its federal forces unto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota. The Oglala are one of the seven council fires of the Great Teton Nation, the Oceti Sakowin .

Now why would the federal government send its troops to an Indian reservation for battle? The American Indian Movement and those who believed in the old Lakota traditional ways.

While AIM Chapters all across the country were being infiltrated by members of the FBI and possibly the CIA, (since AIM had ‘connections to communist countries’ as falsely claimed by the US Government), other groups had been given a similar fate including several college student organizations all the way to the Black Panther Party. The infiltration was part of the FBI’s counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) that gathered information on terrorist groups. The COINTELPRO was used as a divide and conquer tactic, which had destroyed several small autonomous college organizations and movements.

In the 1970s, AIM had been infiltrated by the FBI on several occasions but they were not aware who the informant was, it was later found that the FBI used Douglas Durham. When AIM leaders were made aware of Durham ‘s activities, they had questioned him and let him go because AIM was not silent in their maneuverings. Things happen at certain times when they are not planned. We have a gathering and somehow it turns into an occupation. We go to a place to peacefully protest and it somehow becomes violent.

It didn’t matter if AIM was infiltrated and if the spiritual power felt that something should be done during a gathering, it had an unusual way of making things happen. So it was no secret that Durham was a fed, he had no evidence against AIM or traditional peoples for planning occupations or any other activities. Traditional peoples and AIM are a treaty rights movement. They work for the people of all tribes not against Indian peoples.

Now the federal government claims that AIM had killed Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash for being an FBI informant. We do not know for sure if she was or was not but here is the evidence for you to weigh.

On 24 February 1976 , the body of an ‘unknown’ woman was found north of the town of Wanblee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge reservation. This ‘routine’ death investigation as it would later be called included several FBI agents, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police, South Dakota medical specialists and Indian Health Service (IHS) medical staff. IHS Dr. Stephen Shanker and Nurse Inez Hodges were at the scene where the body had been found. They examined the body and told investigators that there was fluid coming from the head area. They had also taken notice that this victim had on a very distinctive ring and bracelet. The bracelet was turned over to the FBI. So if this was a ‘routine’ investigation, why were so many feds and BIA police and medics at the scene?

The federal pathologist W.O. Brown, who had done questionable autopsies on several AIM and traditional Oglala victims of violent crimes was to do an autopsy of this victim. In his findings Dr. Brown ruled that the victim had died from exposure and the head contusion was the only sign of an injury. He had done no X-ray on the body. Dr. Brown had ruled that the victim had fallen down from being drunk and been exposed to weather conditions. That concluded the autopsy. Dr. Brown was advised by the FBI to cut the ‘unknown’ victim’s hands off for fingerprint identification. FBI was to send the hands to Washington, D.C. for analysis.

In the meanwhile, the FBI was making preparations to bury the body as quickly as they could and on March 2, the body of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was placed into the ground. There was no death certificate and her hands were still in the trunk of the FBI agent’s vehicle. Why was the FBI in a hurry to place the body into the ground? It wasn’t the decomposition of the body. Rather, it was a long list of allegations that Anna Mae had made toward the FBI, who had threatened to see her dead within the year.

Despite the unusually quick funeral, the American Indian Movement called for a second opinion and Dr. Garry Peterson, a pathologist from St. Paul, Minnesota did the second autopsy. His findings differed far from the first ruling. Dr. Peterson ruled that the victim had died of a gun shot wound to the head. She had met death by foul play.

Why would AIM order a second autopsy for Anna Mae’s body, if they had ordered her death as the government claims? Perhaps AIM was trying to expose an FBI cover-up of a crime it had committed.

It is now the year 2004 and the American Indian Movement is still being investigated by the federal government. This same government has split the leadership in several factions. COINTELPRO is still being used on Indigenous peoples of this country.

AIM was tried for Anna Mae’s murder and Arlo Looking Cloud was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. An appeal is being made on the grounds that Looking Cloud was given alcohol and drugs and was under the influence at the time of the video taped confession.

In the age when DNA testing and forensic science can play key roles in solving Anna Mae’s murder, the federal government and its false judicial tactics insists upon convicting Indians as a result of hearsay and a complete lack of evidence which placed Looking Cloud and Graham as the murderers.

The FBI during Looking Cloud’s trial put many witneses on the stand but without a murder weapon and the accusation that AIM killed her, the witnesses had somehow ‘witnessed’ Looking Cloud kill Anna Mae, when in fact, none of the witnesses were around. These witnesses told the jury that they had a relationship to Anna Mae, of course, there was a lot of crying on the stand so that played part in the conviction. However, the Court was more concentrated on their testimony that AIM had ordered her death. If anyone believes in ‘hearsay,’ they must believe the Earth is still flat. The jury of Rapid City, South Dakota convicted Looking Cloud on hearsay, not evidence. An honest court would have told the FBI to produce the murder weapon that Looking Cloud and Graham used. Forensic science and DNA testing were not used. No eye witnesses were made present to see them actually commit a crime. So if it is possible to use hearsay from witnesses as evidence, can the FBI place witnesses to the 60+ unsolved reservation murders of AIM and Traditional Oglala Lakota? No, because the evidence would show that the FBI had come to the reservation to kill traditional Indian people who stood up against the US Government. Although, the FBI released its report stating that all 60+ murders were ‘solved,’ it has never convicted the killers who were paid by the US Government and acknowledged by the FBI.

John Graham is awaiting extradition from Canada , as the second suspect into Anna Mae’s death. His extradition fate is similar to AIM leader and political prisoner Leonard Peltier. While in Canada awaiting the extradition hearing, Peltier’s case suffered a major blow when the FBI falsified an affidavit claiming that a witness had come forward and identified Peltier as the 1975 triggerman in which two FBI agents were killed in an FBI provoked shootout in Oglala. FBI agents were looking for a suspect, who had stolen a pair of cowboy boots during a bar fight. The FBI has no jurisdiction on tribal lands unless the crime warranted or violated the federal major crimes law.

Presented with the falsified affidavit, the Canadian courts ruled Peltier to be extradited to the US. During his trial it was found that the US had lied to the Canadian government with the falsified affidavit.

This article’s intent is to show how the FBI uses deception to get its man and the continued falsifying of information to convict Indian peoples in federal courts. The federal deception against the American Indian Movement has convinced the public that AIM kills its own people. Remember AIM is a movement of several hundred tribes, now why would they want to kill those who they are helping? We may never know who killed Anna Mae but the time and place where she traveled through was a battle field between the United States and traditional Indigenous peoples.

NOTE: See also American Indian Movement website at http://www.aimovement.org. Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse © 1991. Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books, USA . John Graham Defense at http://www.grahamdefense.org . Lakota Student Alliance at http://www.geocities.com/lakotastudentalliance . Spirit of Crazy Horse. PBS Home Video © 1990. Micheal Dubios and Kevin McKierman. PBS Home Video, a production of the Public Broadcasting System.


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