Editors Note: For over twelve years News From Indian Country has conducted more than 70 interviews on and off the record regarding the execution of Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash in early Dec. 1975. We stand by the results of that investigation, which revealed to us that various members and leaders of the American Indian Movement, including Leonard Peltier, were consulted after her kidnapping and share responsibility for her death (indiancountrynews.com/aquashlegacy.html
Also see Canadian Broadcast Corporation special program Silenced: The Execution of Anna Mae aired June 27, 2001 To order: 1-800-363-1281 press 1 then 4)
My intent, and that of other NFIC writers, has always been to find the truth, help bring the deceptions by the FBI and AIM to an end, and help people find some closure on both these issues. The following interview indicates that 27 years ago, an investigation by AIM uncovered who murdered Annie Mae, though in my own opinion, AIM didnt need to conduct an investigation into their own actions. And as shocking as some may find it, after many years of supporting and advocating clemency for Leonard Peltier, the News From Indian Country editorial staff no longer believes Leonard Peltier is innocent of shooting the agents at close range as he has so often proclaimed. See our editorial, "Leonard Peltier. Now what do we do?" on page 15A in this issue and the Mid-Feb, issue when we show you some of the reasons we have come to this conclusion.
The following narrative from Leonard Peltier in his own words, is from an interview with Serle L. Chapman found in We, The People of Earth and Elders Volume II, and represents an excert from several lengthy interviews with members of the AIM to be published in Blood, Sweat and Tears: Inside the American Indian Movement. We, The People, is to be released by Bear Print International Limited (Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana 1-800-234-5308 ISBN 0-9528607-5-9) in March of 2002 in the U.S. The book, released in Europe in November of 2001 contains interviews with a vast array of Native individuals across the country, including Joseph Medicine Crow, Joanne Shenandoah, Wilmer Mesteth, Mary Kimberlie Titla, Keith Secola, Kevin Red Star, N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria Jr., Joy Harjo and others.
Regretfully Yours, Paul DeMain, Editor
News From Indian Country
Whoever killed Anna Mae Aquash, whoever did the dirty work for the FBI, I think they were duped. Those guys were tricked into doing this and I dont believe that they had any personal dislike for her or just wanted to hurt her, I think these people were just misled. There was such hysteria about people being FBI agents and we knew that the FBIs put out shit about Anna Mae. You know, you can tell an informer. I knew with Doug Durham, I just knew there was something wrong with him. Im not going to say its a gift or whatever but Ive been able to sense it, my instincts have been real good. One time when I confronted Doug Durham I saw the look on his face and Leroy Six Toes was standing next to me as my witness. When we walked away and we looked at each other I said, "That guys a rat", and Leroy said, "Yeah, I seen it too. Hes a rat." Ive been able to sense it about these people and thats why I had gone in to question Durham, but at that time he was so close to Dennis (Banks) I couldnt say anything about it. Of course I told Dennis, "Hey, theres something wrong with this guy. How well do you know him?" And Dennis got kind of irritated and looked upset. Doug Durham wanted me out of there and hed say to Dennis, "Why dont you give them some money and they can go back to South Dakota," stuff like that.
I think it was around that December when I heard that Anna Mae was dead. I was in that jail over there in Canada right around whenever they exposed who she really was and what she died from, but I believe I didnt hear about it until December. When people say that she tried to contact me, thats a lie. If shed have tried to contact me then she would have been with me, and theres no doubt in my mind because the Indian people knew where I was; certain people knew where I was at. She would not; I mean, I know she didnt try to contact me. This is something that has to get out, out there: some of these people are just outright lying. I know it because how in the hell, all of a sudden, are they involved in this twenty-five years later? Oh, I know this. I know that. Well, they didnt know shit before and all of a sudden twenty-five years later they know something? All of this information that these people are going around this country with is the same information that we had through our investigation back in the seventies. Right after it was revealed that the body they buried as Jane Doe was Anna Mae Aquash we immediately began organizing and trying to get an investigation going, and all of the evidence that we uncovered from that time is what these people are going around the country using.
Everybody has their own agendas now. As the years go by with these so called brothers of mine, these Sun Dance brothers, I imagine that theres some jealousy about the symbol that Ive become, but one of the things I want them to know is, Hey, Ill trade you places. You can have this place. I never wanted it from the beginning and I dont want it now, but we dont turn against our people. We dont turn against our own. This is an oath we made in the Sun Dance, this is an oath we made on the canupa, the sacred pipe we do not turn against our own. And some of you guys out there are doing that, youre turning against your own like a bunch of goddamned hyenas. Because they have personal vendettas against each other and they dislike one another, they are going around and making all of these accusations in the media to not only gain attention for themselves but to try and cause harm to a fellow American Indian Movement brother and in any place in the world that is not only an informant, in prison you would be considered a goddamned rat. And thats what they are, they are rats.
I had a guy on my visiting list who told me that he could get me out; he specifically said, "I talked to these people and they said if you can help us in any way to get a conviction over Anna Mae that they will immediately move you from this prison. The minute you say yes, they will immediately move you from this prison, give you some protection, and then it will just be a matter of time before youre released." He didnt say them by name but he had talked to the prosecuting attorneys in Denver, Colorado. I said, "Well, I dont know anything." Then he said, "You could still help us." So I sat back and I looked at him and said, "Youre asking me to be a Myrtle Poor Bear then? Do you want me to make something up? What makes you think thats going to help?" And he said, "Well, with your influence, more Indians will come forward and then we could be sure that well put these bastards in prison." Or thats what he thought. I said, "Im not going to do that! Youre full of shit. Dont ask me that shit." I took him off my visiting list after that and if I was outside Id kick his ass. So thats what theyre doing right now and the end result is that these people will suffer like Myrtle Poor Bear did. Myrtle Poor Bear has been ostracized by her own people. Every place she goes they are continuously brutalizing her theyre not killing her, not like this here but theyll beat her up. She has been going through her own mental torture for the last twenty-five years from her own people.