This case is not a straight murder trial. It is a political trial where the government is trying to dredge up, sensationalize and demonize the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.). The government continues in its centuries-old unlawful and racist prosecution American Indian People.
We must put a stop to this decades-long unlawful prosecution!
PLEA FOR ATTORNEYS: Marshall’s court-appointed defense attorney, Dana Hanna, is a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to such a high-profile political case. Marshall desperately needs qualified counsel that understands the methodology of political trials.
US Government Continues to Attack Innocent American Indians by Utilizing the Now Defunct American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) to Fan the Flames of Racism in the Heart of the Republic of Lakotah (Now Known as the State of South Dakota)
Anna Mae Aquash (b. Indian Brook, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 27, 1945; d. mid-December 1975) was a Mi’kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, Canada who became one of the most active and prominent female members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the early 1970s.
After nearly three decades of dormancy, law enforcement attempts to “solve” the murder of Aquash recently resumed.
On February 24, 1976, Aquash was found dead by the side of State Road 73 on the far northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation, about 10 miles from Wanblee, South Dakota, close to Kadoka. Her body was found during an unusually warm spell in late February, 1976 by a rancher, Roger Amiotte.
FBI’s Initial Cover up:
At the Pine Ridge morgue, a doctor and nurse found blood on the woman’s head. However, BIA pathologist Dr. W. O. Brown, described the case as “awfully routine,” reported no blood, and concluded the woman had died from “exposure” two weeks earlier, in early February. On FBI instructions, Brown severed the victim’s hands for later identification and approved a burial.
“It was the darndest thing I ever saw,” said mortician Tom Chamberlain, “an unidentified corpse buried without a death certificate or burial permit.” On March 3, 1976, the anonymous body rested in a pauper’s grave on Pine Ridge. On that day, the FBI identified the dead woman as 30-year-old Anna Mae Aquash from Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The Bureau notified the Pictou family in Canada that Anna Mae had died “by natural causes.”
The family requested another autopsy, and AIM lawyer Bruce Ellison petitioned the FBI to exhume the body. On March 11, Dr. Garry Peterson examined the corpse, noticed “a bulge in the dead woman’s left temple and dry blood in her hair,” and revealed the actual cause of death: a .32 caliber bullet “shot at close range into the back of her head.”
FBI Blames AIM for the Murder:
The story itself raises many obvious questions, including:
- Why would an AIM “hit squad” take Aquash, in the presence of so many witnesses, from one city to another, across two states, to several apartments and a defense office (more than likely under surveillance), then execute her?
- If the FBI seriously considered the death of Aquash to have been carried out by AIM in 1976, we can be sure vast amounts of resources would have been devoted to this case at that time. Instead, the FBI attempted to cover it up!
There are many theories about who may have been behind the murder of Anna Mae. John Trudell fingers Dennis Banks, stating in both the 1976 Butler and Robideau trial and the Looking Cloud trial that Banks told him about the killing before the body had been identified. In Dennis Banks’ autobiography, Ojibwa Warrior, he states that he was informed by John Trudell that the body that had been found was Annie Mae. Banks states that he did not know until that time that Aquash had been killed.
The FBI’s version is that Aquash was taken from a house in Denver, Colorado, by Graham, Looking Cloud, and Thelda Clarke. She was then driven to various offices & apartments in Rapid City, S. Dakota. One of these included the legal offices of the Wounded Knee defense committee. From there, she was taken to houses on Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, then executed on a desolate road near Wanbli, on or around Dec. 12, 1975 (where her body was found two months later).
According to the FBI, Aquash was suspected of being an informant and had sensitive info related to the Oglala shoot-out. Because of this, she had to be killed.
History of the Prosecution’s Grand Juries
Denver, Colorado, Detective Abe Alonzo, spent years visiting and questioning Looking Cloud about the murder. During these years, the Government, through Alonzo, gave Looking Cloud immunity and tried to turn him into prosecution witness. It was only after this immunity expired that Looking Hawk was indicted.
After 29 years, the FBI, blatantly ignoring both Trudell’s 1976 testimony, and his testimony in the Looking Cloud trial, was turned away by Grand Juries in 1976, 1983, 1994, and 1999. In the fourth Grand Jury, Russell Means testified that Vernon Bellecourt, now deceased, and a former spokesperson for his own Intergalactic American Indian Movement wherein he purportedly was the Grand Poupa of AIM, was the person who ordered the murder. Not until a fifth grand jury was convened in March, 2003 did the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota finally get indictments against Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham.
In August 2008, a sixth federal grand jury indicted a third man, Vine Richard “Dick” Marshall, with aiding and abetting the murder. It is alleged that Graham, Looking Cloud and Clark had taken Anna Mae to Marshall’s house where she was held just prior to her being driven to her death.
Looking Cloud is an Oglala Lakota and a father of two. He also has serious substance abuse problems that were exploited by Alonzo during his investigation. In March 2003, in an alleged video-taped confession, Looking Cloud admitted to being under the influence of alcohol. Alonzo then fed him leading questions, and Looking Cloud slurred contradictory answers. He allegedly confessed that he had been the unwitting accomplice in Aquash’s execution by AIM. He stated that he witnessed Graham take her to the edge of a ravine and shoot her in the back of the head.
The Looking Cloud Trial
On February 8, 2004 Arlo Looking Cloud was tried before a U.S. federal jury and five days later was found guilty. While the prosecution called 23 witnesses, his government appointed lawyer called only one, an FBI agent! NO physical evidence linking Looking Cloud to the crime was presented!
Although, a videotape was shown in which Looking Cloud admits to being at the scene of the murder but claims that he was unaware that Aquash was going to be killed. In that video, in which Looking Cloud is interviewed by Detective Abe Alonzo of the Denver Police Department and Robert Ecoffey, the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement Services, taped on March 27, 2003, he states that Graham was the trigger man. This interview granted Looking Cloud immunity for his information. When the immunity expired he was arrested!
Looking Cloud’s video-taped statement reflects the FBI’s version of events, except in one important detail: according to Looking Cloud, he did not know what was occurring until moments before John Graham took her out of the car and shot her. The FBI’s version of events has always been based on rumors within AIM that Anna Mae was a suspected informant. Candy Hamilton, a friend of Aquash, reports that it was common for people to be suspected of being an informant at this time.
Over the years, many people had in fact informed or gave evidence to police. It is a common practice of police and the FBI to use informants & collaborators. In 1975, Douglas Durham was exposed as an FBI infiltrator who worked at the highest levels within AIM.
During the trial , government witnesses gave conflicting testimony, including that of an admitted informant: Kamook Banks (former wife of AIM leader Dennis Banks, current wife of B.I.A. cop Robert Ecoffey !). Under cross-examination, Kamook revealed she was paid $42,000 by the FBI to wear wiretaps & record meetings with Looking Cloud, Banks, & others.
Despite requests to change lawyers, the judge has consistently denied this basic right. Although he entered a plea of not guilty, his video-taped confession from April/03 was not challenged by his lawyer!
Graham adamantly denies any involvement in the death of Anna Mae. He claims that the U.S. government threatened to name him as the murderer of Anna Mae if he “didn’t co-operate”. Claiming that he last saw Annie Mae on a drive that took them from Denver to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where he left her at a “safe house” (in his own words, in an interview with Antoinette Nora Claypoole), Graham explains why he believes he is being charged as her murderer:
“…in the mid-80s or sometime about there. The FBI showed up at my home in the Yukon, and asked me all kinds of questions about Anna Mae and the death. They were trying to say I was there, or I knew about it, or I was aware of it. And I had to tell them I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t around there and I wasn’t involved in her killing at all. And they wanted me to name leadership that would have given the order to that effect, to kill Anna Mae. And they were trying to tell me they would put me in the witness protection program, they would change my identity, they would relocate me if I would go to testify in front of the federal Grand Jury in South Dakota against the AIM leadership. So I told them I couldn’t do that because it never happened.
I never, ever received orders of any kind like that from any of the AIM leadership. And so I wouldn’t do it; I wouldn’t cooperate with them. And they left. Then they came back a year or so later and said…. if I didn’t cooperate with them to put this information on the AIM leadership, then I would be facing all these charges myself.”
During this interrogation, Looking Cloud states that he is still under the influence of alcohol; the FBI not only continue to ask him questions, they get him to sign statements!
Looking Cloud was denied the right to choose his own lawyer. During his trial, every witness for the prosecution presented AIM in the most negative light possible, and they contradicted each other in their testimonies. Many people could have been called as defense witnesses, to testify that Aquash had been afraid of the FBI, not AIM. But the defense called only one witness—FBI Agent Price! He was questioned for 10 minutes on Aquash as to whether she was an FBI informant. If only to accentuate the obvious set-up, the prosecution didn’t even bother to cross-examine Agent Price, the sole witness for the ‘defense.’
Looking Cloud’s lawyer made few motions and did not challenge Alonzo’s manipulation of his client. Looking Cloud was not allowed to take the stand to defend himself; all that was shown was the videotaped interview that he had given.
Due to an “unfortunate accident,” Denver police claim to have lost these critical recordings; the only evidence given was hearsay based on alleged conversations with Looking Cloud over the years.
A large focus of the trial did not even concern Looking Cloud, but instead AIM & the case of Leonard Peltier. In a Feb. 7th news release, Peltier’s lawyer Barry Bachrach stated:
“Who was on trial? The majority of the testimony presented had nothing whatsoever to do with Arlo Looking Cloud, but prominent members of the American Indian Movement. There was not one iota of proof presented to support many witnesses’ “beliefs”. And for every witness presented, there are any number of other individuals who could be called to appear and who would tell very different stories.”
Arlo Looking Cloud now claims that, over the years, the FBI & police would periodically pick him up and feed him drugs & alcohol while indoctrinating him with their version of events.
On April 23, 2004 he was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
South Dakota in the Early 70’s
AIM first came to South Dakota when a call was made for outside help to get serious convictions against white men responsible for a racially motivated murder that took place in a Nebraska border town. A Lakota man had been publicly humiliated and later murdered by 2 white brothers. Disinterested law officials didn’t have the time of day to bother to investigate the death of an Indian. Angry Lakotas and AIM members caravaned to the Nebraska border, only miles away from Pine Ridge, and confronted the law officials.
The sight of hundreds of angry Indians, shocked law officials and they immediately caved in to their demands. A year later, a young man was murdered by a rich white businessman, who had told people that he was “gonna go kill himself an Indian.” A riot occurred at the Custer courthouse because police beat the mother of the victim. The riot lasted over an hour, and 2 cop cars were overturned, and the vacant building beside the courthouse was torched.
U.S. Government’s Motive to Grab Resources
Thirty years after the death of Aquash, the US government has renewed its war against the last remnants of AIM. As in the 1970s, this attack is only part of a larger war to gain control over Native lands and resources.
In 1975, with his control of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota secured by force, Tribal President Wilson set about ceding uranium-rich areas of the Reservation to the federal government. AIM assisted in protecting Pine Ridge’s traditional families from the constant onslaught of violence, which culminated in the AIM occupation and government siege of Wounded Knee in the Spring of 1973. From 1973 to 1976, the people of Pine Ridge lived under the “Reign of Terror”—more than 76 Natives, mainly traditional Lakotah and AIM members, were murdered, primarily by,, Wilson’s goons, a term coined by the elderly women who protested against them. Later, in a perverse play on words, the goons called themselves, “Guardians of the Oglala Nation” (GOONs). In response the Wilson and his GOONs, AIM launched a campaign to expose the injustice and protect the innocent.
On June 26, 1975—while Wilson was in Washington, DC, signing away an eighth of the reservation—the FBI launched an attack on an AIM camp at Pine Ridge. The US was dealt a humiliating blow—two FBI agents lost their lives. Although Joe Stuntz Killsright, a Lakotah defender, was killed in the shoot-out, an estimated 40 Native men, women and children escaped.
In extreme rage, the FBI violently harassed Lakota families. They drafted a list of people that they suspected were present at the shoot-out, and they blamed Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, Dino Butler and Jimmy Eagle for killing the agents. The four young men went on the run. Butler and Robideau were eventually arrested, tried and acquitted by an all-white jury, so the FBI targeted Peltier for the “murder” of the agents. Of course, there has never been an investigation into Stuntz Killsright’s death.
FBI’s Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) Directly Targets AIM and Its Members
September 24, 2006
“REP. McKINNEY INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO RE-OPEN CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS INTO COINTELPRO PAST AND PRESENT
(Washington, DC) Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA 4^th ) has introduced legislation calling for a re-opening of the investigations of the 1970’s by the United States Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities chaired by Senator Frank Church which led to startling revelations concerning federal, state and local intelligence and law enforcement agency violations of Constitutional rights of privacy, limits on search and seizure, surveillance, wiretapping and disruption of dissent and protected activities, and massive collection of dossiers by FBI, CIA, NSA, Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agencies and other local agencies, targeting the civil rights, Native American and anti-war movements of the period and “neutralizing” their leadership and discrediting the efforts for social change over decades.
The most infamous of these abuses was the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, or counter intelligence program…, Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, there were immediate calls to renew COINTELPRO-style surveillance, go to Continuity of Government, release intelligence agencies from the restrictions of the Church Committee era laws (which included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to pre-approve Presidential surveillance programs), calls to end the principle of Posse Comitatus, which separates police and military functions, and renewed surveillance and disruption by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Agency (TSA), Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and by certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT…”
The US made its first violent attack against AIM in 1972, in what became known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Takeover. Indians had been conducting a peaceful protest outside the BIA headquarters in Washington, DC, when they were attacked by riot police. In response, the Indians barricaded themselves inside the building, smashed up offices and took top-secret documents. These documents proved that the government was illegally handing out Reservation land, water and mineral rights to corporations.
At this time, Aquash was “snitch-jacketed” by the FBI. This tactic of the FBI’s Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) undermined valuable members of a group by casting them in suspicious situations. Wherever Aquash went, arrests would follow. She’d be released, while other AIM members were slapped with charges and high bail. In September 1975, FBI Agent David Price attempted to force her to sign an affidavit implicating Peltier for the murder of the two FBI agents. She refused to cooperate, and Price promised her that she wouldn’t live to see the year’s end.
Aquash went underground, turning to AIM for protection and putting her fears of the FBI in writing. In late February, her body was found outside of Wanbli, on Pine Ridge. Four FBI agents joined the “investigation,” including Price. They cut off her hands for “fingerprint analysis,” and despite the visible bullet hole in the back of her head, they determined that the cause of her death was exposure. They quickly arranged for her to be buried as a Jane Doe. After this cover-up came to light, the FBI released a statement announcing that Aquash was not a government informant. As intended, this statement insinuated that AIM might have believed Aquash to be an informant and murdered her.
Through Dickie Wilson, the corrupt Tribal President of Pine Ridge, the FBI established a paramilitary group made up of local boys who called themselves the Guardians of Oglala Nation (goons).
The FBI trained and supplied the goons with bullets, guns and intelligence on AIM. Indians began to arm themselves for protection against the onslaught of assaults, torched houses, and hit and runs, and drive-by shootings. Only years later, did it become clear to Indians why the FBI reacted so brutally to the bold assertions Lakotas were making in the districts of Pine Ridge.
Unknown at that time, the US had an eye on developing uranium mining on a portion of the sacred Black Hills, and an area known as Sheep Mountain. This area has proven to be one of the richest in uranium deposits in the US. The FBI implemented their counterintellegence operation in Pine Ridge in order to weaken and destroy the urban Indian movement, and to subjugate the traditional Lakotas once and for all. The FBI Counterintellegence Program (COINTELPRO), targets political groups that are viewed as a threat to national security.
Often these groups were fighting oppression, systemic racism, and were attempting to make things better for their people. This program discredits organizations, and its’ members through media smears. Infiltrators staged many scandals that put AIM in a bad light to weaken their popularity and wide-support.
COINTELPRO has lethal consequences, as any means necessary can be used to thwart the enemy. This is why so many AIM members have been criminalized, imprisoned, or outright murdered as a result of this FBI program. Also the once powerful and effective movement became riddled with FBI informers, and infiltrators. As the violence escalated, the paranoia and suspicion grew. The FBI put trustworthy AIM leaders in situations that made them look suspicious, which the FBI call snitch jacketing, or bad jacketing. Soon, it was hard for people to tell the difference between whom they could trust, and who was working with the feds.
The FBI officially and publicly ended its COINTELPRO operations on April 28, 1971. But FBI documents obtained by NFIC from the FBI Reading Room in the capital indicate that in November of 1973 the FBI continued “COINTEL measures to further disrupt AIM leadership” which it had employed in its discredited former counterintelligence program. There is also ample evidence that many of the actions by the FBI in the 1970’s across the country where grossly illegal!
Trial Scheduled for February 24, 2009
By Heidi Bell Gease, Journal staff | Tuesday, January 13, 2009
“The attorney for Richard “Dickie” Marshall, one of two men charged with killing American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash in 1975, has asked that the trial be moved back two months.
Marshall, 57, and John Graham, 52, are to go on trial Feb. 24 in U.S. District Court in Rapid City. Both men are charged with first-degree murder.
On Monday, Marshall’s defense attorney, Dana Hanna, filed a motion for continuance, saying he needs more time to prepare for the trial.
Hanna said he had read more than 5,000 pages of case background information provided by the federal government but has not reviewed those documents with his client. He also said he needs but has not received copies of the more than 100 audio cassette tapes produced during the investigation.
Hanna’s motion also states that the government has refused to provide records or information concerning other AIM-related events during the 1970s that could come into play during the trial.
“I require more time to locate and interview witnesses, gather records, subpoena evidence, research legal issues and to investigate the case,” Hanna wrote.
Marshall was indicted last August, more than 32 years after Aquash’s body was found on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in February 1976. She had been shot in the head.
Marshall and Graham would face life in prison if convicted. A third man charged in the case, Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted of murder after a 2004 trial and is serving a life sentence.”
We must put a stop to this decades-long unlawful prosecution. As in previous cases, the prosecution will try this case before an all-white jury using racial bias and fabricated evidence to further it’s centuries-old campaign to wipe out every trace of the once great Lakotah people:
- Wounded Knee trial of Russell Means and Dennis Banks where all charges were dismissed by Judge Nichol due to “gross misconduct” by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorneys.
- Over 200 trials of Wounded Knee defendants have been held and ALL have either been dismissed or found not guilty.
- Over a five-year period, Russell Means endured twelve criminal trials as a sole defendant. Again all charges were dismissed or returned with not guilty verdicts.
A leading figure in the American Indian Movement, Means is as well known for his civil rights actions as he is for his movies role, a fact that sits wells with many and not so well with others.
A charismatic figure, Means is often portrayed as a crusader for indigenous people and an unabashed self-promoter, often in the same breath by the same person. The truth is that the man is complex. He’s had numerous run-ins with the law over crimes on a wide variety of charges, some very small (he was arrested during his last attempt at winning Oglala Sioux Tribal chief for missing a federal court date for a series of minor traffic tickets issued in Badlands National Park, others more serious, including a series of battery charges that include one where he tried to make a citizen’s arrest on a Bureau of Indian Affairs official, and others somewhere in between, such as recent state charges that he was fishing in the Black Hills without a license.
Still, he remains the rock star of aboriginal rights in a country where the battle for treaty rights and recognition as a sovereign nation continue to be key issues for a economically depressed and fractured group of people.
Of late, the biggest news he’s made is that he will be facing off against OST prosecutor and state Sen. Theresa Two Bulls for the chairmanship of the tribal council. The ride should be interesting.
But pinning Means down to politics, activism or art, is pointless. He is a complex conglomerate of those mediums and a multitude of many things much more human.
Here’s a quick look at Means in the public eye.
You would think that Means two albums from the 1990s — “Electric Warrior” and “The Radical” — would be getting some serious play on stations other than KILI. I mean, the song names themselves make it nearly worth considering picking up, especially “Ain’t No Prison for the Corporations.”
While the anti-establishment lyrics that bring forth Means’ views of the American Indian’s struggle in today’s United States remain the focus, the wide range of influences musically employed (including country, classical, rock, metal, hip hop, the blues and jazz) on the two recordings is nothing if not ambitious.
Of course, songs such as “Nixon’s Dead A**” might be a little less than timely, but taken in the spirit they were written, not entirely off target either.
The Internet Movie Data Base (imdb) has 32 film and television titles in which Means has appeared, beginning with 1992′s “The Last of the Mohicans.” The longtime activist turned politician turned to primarily acting during a good part of the 1990s. Praised for his role as Chingachgook in “Mohicans,” Means went on to star in a series of American Indian-themed movies, as well as Oliver Stone’s brutal “Natural Born Killers” and a guest appearance on Seifeld creator Larry David’s HBO Series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Of recent interest is an upcoming film called “Rez Bomb.” The plot summary reads as follows: “Set on and around the poorest place in the USA, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Rez Bomb is a love story/thriller about a Lakota girl and a white guy who are very much in love but get themselves into trouble with a brutal money lender and its against the clock for them to bail themselves out.”
Not only does Russell Means make art; he’s also been the subject of art.
A younger Means was the subject of one of Andy Warhol’s celebrity portrait pieces, a style made most famous by his multiple portraits of starlet Marilyn Monroe.
The interpretation states: “Warhol’s image presents Means as a giant celebrity whose noble features have been softened and glamorized. In Warhol’s portrait, Means’ status as celebrity hero takes precedence over his actuality as a person and his political importance.”
In just the past year, Means received world attention for his declaration that he and a group of American Indian leaders were seceding from the United States to form the Republic of Lakotah, a nation formed on the basis of the Treaty of 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
Means announcement that the Lakota(h) people were withdrawing from the treaties because of the United States government’s refusal to recognize key portions of those treaties drew significant attention in the world press (Journal reporters and editors received several calls from foreign press outlets asking such questions as, “What are you going to do now?” and “Are you going to move?”
Locally and nationally, Means move brought less attention, due in part that his declaration wasn’t universally embraced by American Indian tribes within the purported boundaries of the new nation, which stretched across wide swaths of Nebraska and South Dakota.
Whether you take him seriously or not, of particular interest on the official Web site of the Republic is a quote attributed to Mohandas Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Of course, as he runs for tribal office, one would wonder if he could hold chief executive powers over two sovereign nations simultaneously and whether that would make him the equivalent of an emperor.
One might say that Means’ earliest days — from leading the American Indian Movement in their occupation of Alcatraz to the standoff at Wounded Knee — were political acts.
But Means political involvement is far ranging and quite ambitious.
In addition to his three runs for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, he was a candidate for governor of New Mexico but was left off the ballot. But those are small potatoes compared to his efforts to seek the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in 1987, which was ended when he lost a heated race against Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
But some of Means most famous political statements outside of his role as an AIM leader were his fight against the Cleveland Indian baseball franchise and their logo Chief Wahoo that he said “promotes racism against Indian people” and his support of the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua, who had aligned themselves with the U.S.-funded contra guerillas against the Nicaraguan government.