And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 07:09:20 -0400
From: Lynne Moss-Sharman <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: ANNA MAE PICTOU-AWUASH Wounded Knee
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June 13, 1999 
            Justice at last for Anna Mae?
    DNA evidence may finally solve the 1976 murder of
    a Canadian Indian woman

           By PETER WORTHINGTON -- Toronto Sun

The bizarre murder of a Canadian Indian woman nearly 24 years ago on South
Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation, near Wounded Knee, is today closer to
being solved, thanks to a Denver detective and DNA evidence.  It was a
sensational mystery at the time. The case has never been closed, and now
three middle-aged Indians who were wild,
status-seeking teenagers in the mid-'70s, may soon be indicted by a
Colorado grand jury if Denver detective Abe Alonzo has his way. 
Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, a charismatic, controversial 30-year-old
Micmac from Shubenacadie, near Halifax, made headlines when
her decomposing body was finally identified in February, 1976. 

At the time hers was just one of some 300 Indian deaths at Pine
Ridge between the 71-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, and the
murders of two FBI agents in 1975, while a mini-war raged.  A dispute over
whether uranium-rich Sioux land should go to the
U.S. government involved traditional Indians who sought help from
the militant American Indian Movement (AIM).  The Bureau of Indian Agency
(BIA) police, paramilitary Guardians of the Oglala Nation, U.S. marshals,
the FBI, SWAT teams and assorted vigilantes were all in confrontation, with
the National Guard in the wings. Most of the Indian deaths, usually by
gunshot, were designated as being from "exposure." Of 63 identified bodies,
47 were of AIM supporters. Only the shooting deaths of two FBI agents were

Initially, Anna Mae was one of the unidentified Indian dead.  When her body
was discovered by rancher Roger Amiotte in a remote corner of the
reservation on Feb. 24, 1976, police and the FBI uncharacteristically
swarmed the scene. 


The local pathologist ruled she'd died from exposure - probably
drunk - and that she'd recently had sex but wasn't raped. In an
unusual procedure, the FBI had her hands amputated and sent to
Washington for fingerprint identification. (Normally, if the FBI
wants ID, the finger tips are cut off and sent in the matching fingers of a
surgeon's glove.)  FBI agents had repeatedly interviewed Anna Mae and tried
to recruit her as an informant. A warrant was out for her arrest on a
weapons charge. Many Indians now believe that when Anna Mae refused to
co-operate, the FBI planted rumours that she was an informer. This
technique was successful in causing dissension and spreading suspicions
among Indians. It helped destabilize AIM which, as it turned out, was
thoroughly penetrated by the FBI. 

After Anna Mae was buried in an unmarked grave as "Jane Doe,"
the FBI notified the Canadian government and relatives in Nova
Scotia of her death.  The family, knowing Anna Mae was too experienced to
die of exposure, contacted a lawyer, had the body exhumed and got an
independent pathologist to do an autopsy. Dr. Garry Peterson of St. Paul
Hospital in Minnesota discovered a
bullet wound in the back of her head, and a .32 slug bulging above
her left cheek. Blood tests showed no alcohol or drugs. Dr.
Peterson suspected she'd been raped.  Rumours flew. Some felt the FBI had
"executed" Anna Mae in revenge for agents Ron Williams and Jack Coler being
killed the previous June, and/or because she wouldn't co-operate. Others
felt Indians had killed her because they thought she was an informer. 

The FBI later made an unusual public statement that she wasn't an informer.
 Three federal grand juries (1976, 1983, 1994) failed to indict anyone. For
years, the case was going nowhere. Then along came a determined U.S.
marshal for South Dakota, Bob Ecoffey. In 1994, he sought assistance from
Alonzo, an equally resolute Denver
detective, in running down how Anna Mae was "kidnapped" or
abducted from Denver in December, 1975 and taken to Pine Ridge.
The investigation narrowed to three Indians, teenagers at the time,
anxious to make a name for themselves as AIM "dog soldiers" or
warriors. Under orders or on their own, they forcibly took Anna
Mae to Pine Ridge for questioning about being an informer. 


Alonzo, a 27-year detective, has taken the unprecedented route of
going on the Internet to ask for information and witnesses. He's had
a surprising response, "mostly from Indians," and has knitted
together many unconnected details which give a solid picture. He is
convinced he knows the murderers, or abductors, and expects a
Colorado grand jury to soon be convened.  "It's unusual that the federal
government turns over a grand jury investigation to a state, but that's
what's happened," he said when I called him. 

What's changed in the case is DNA evidence. ("Yes, it'll play a big
part when the time comes," he said. "That's all I want to say for
now.") DNA tests weren't sophisticated in 1976.  Paul DeMain, of the
respected publication News from Indian Country and the Native American
Journalists Association, has spent years looking into Anna Mae's murder. He
and his team have also identified the three Indian suspects.  One lives in
Nebraska, one in Denver and the other in the Yukon. The RCMP are now
involved. Alonzo has questioned them, and feels they might crack. Why not
give one immunity to testify against the others?  "We don't want the
co-defendants testifying against each other if we can help it," he says.
"It doesn't lead to a strong case ... better to have independent witnesses." 

In mid-May I visited Leonard Peltier, who is serving two life
sentences in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., and asked
him about Anna Mae. He was in charge of AIM security, and with
Bob Robideau and Dino Butler questioned Anna Mae about being
an informer. All were convinced she was clean.  "Anna Mae was dedicated to
our cause," says Peltier. 


While Robideau and Butler were acquitted of murdering the FBI
agents, Peltier was extradited from Canada on the basis of a
perjured affidavit concocted by the FBI. He was found guilty of
murder after a trial that involved the FBI withholding, planting and
fabricating evidence. Later, the FBI admitted "we can't prove who
fired those shots." Hopes are Peltier will get clemency after 23
years in prison.  At the time of Anna Mae's death, Peltier was in Canada.
He has refused to talk with Det. Alonzo, as has his defence
committee headquarters in Lawrence, Kan.  Neither trusts the Anna Mae
investigation and both fear its goal is to discredit AIM. 

I argue that the truth, whatever it is, should come out. 
Speculation is that Anna Mae was a convenient scapegoat.  Good-looking,
dynamic, aggressive, intelligent, capable, she was
resented by some. Twice married, the mother of two daughters, a
sometime model, she'd taken up with Dennis Banks, a top leader of
AIM and was resented by some AIM women. Also, she was an outsider - a
Canadian, a Micmac, and affiliated with the West Coast branch of AIM, not
Dakota. After interrogation a week or so before Christmas, 1975, Anna Mae
was taken to the northeast corner of the reservation and shot.  Two months
later her body was found. 

Det. Alonzo is reluctant to pass judgment on other police agencies,
but is appalled that so many unsolved or uninvestigated deaths
occurred at that time: "Let's just say there were a lot of situations where
the police work was questionable. But our investigation has found nothing
to implicate any other law enforcement agency in Anna Mae's murder." 

Still, if the FBI did plant disinformation that she was an informant
then, as News From Indian Country notes, "that act set her up to be
executed" by paranoid AIM hotheads.  Over the years, the Canadian
government has shown little concern for Anna Mae, one of its citizens.
Similarly, a succession of  Canadian governments has ignored the unjust
extradition of Leonard Peltier. Recently, Justice Minister Anne McLellan
declared she thinks the affidavits that got Peltier extradited are genuine.
That alone speaks volumes about our government. 

              "Let Us Consider The Human Brain As
               A Very Complex Photographic Plate"
                    1957 G.H. Estabrooks

                   FOR   K A R E N  #01182
                  who died fighting  4/23/99

                  [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Reprinted under the fair use
doctrine of international copyright law.
          Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
                     Unenh onhwa' Awayaton

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