14 comments on “NOT TRUSTED ANYMORE

  1. Ah, granted this was written a while ago and granted it is still in vogue to lump together AIM murderers with the FBI agents who were trying to put them behind bars, but could we please identify those agents who “murdered women and children” at Pine Ridge? I’d like to join in the condemnation.

  2. There is a growing suspicion that the AIM leadership has some
    kind of immunity-an immunity that explains the lack of prosecution
    inspite of all the evidence, testimony given in trials, wired
    informants, grand juries, and the like.
    If another explanation exists would you care to speak to that
    as something other than being in vogue?
    Willing to make it a separate blog on this end.

    • Hill was entirely too modest-no mention of his personal
      achievements nor those free passes he got when charges
      were dropped for the “public good”.
      And of course Clyde Bellecourt has to call in to promote
      himself- this was little more than an promotional infomercial

      He speaks of making the world aware of indigenous conditions
      in this country-and yet no concern to make the world aware of
      crimes committed by AIM, the murders they committed.

      I don’t know about anyone else but I one for one am really tired
      of these fluff interviews that coddle AIM-ask none of the hard
      questions, and in this particular “interview” instructs people
      to call in and then allows someone like Clyde to co opt the air
      And of course the blatant effort to associate AIM with Idle
      No More.

  3. Bellcourt’s son started an AIM chapter in Winnipeg and is using the Idle no More movement as an excuse to block roads and railway lines in Manitoba. Supporters of Idle no More do not support radical behavior from people like this.

    • It’s what AIM does Andre- attempt to insinuate themselves in a cause. But not
      being content with that they want the credit and the media attention, so they
      always try to stage an event that will attract the media.
      In the above link provided Mary Dave Hill goes so far as try an draw a comparison
      between Gandhi and the movement he led in India with AIM.
      To me that is like saying dogs and cats are the same.


  5. “…there is a growing suspicion that the AIM leadership has some
kind of immunity-an immunity that explains the lack of prosecution
in spite of all the evidence, testimony given in trials, wired
informants, grand juries, and the like.
If another explanation exists would you care to speak to that
as something other than being in vogue?
Willing to make it a separate blog on this end.”

    It’s been a while since Rezinate’s offer; apologies for not doing this sooner. Interestingly, I’ve spent some of the recent past putting together a cold case file involving a prominent AIM leader and the abduction and murder of a young boy. Like a lot of AIM crimes against humanity, old case–new evidence.

    I’ve been reading a book, “Master Mind, How to think like Sherlock Holmes.” Author Maria Konnikova suggests ways to emulate the thinking of Conan Doyle’s crime-fighting character to help us with every day life experiences. Building on the scientific method, stripped of emotions and preconceptions, Konnikova says, is the best way to reach truthful conclusions. Examination without prejudice, focusing on details, and observing things with a healthy skepticism over surface observations, initial appearances, or conventional wisdom—these are the tools of an impartial and insightful thinker. Also key, a willingness to re-examine initial conclusions to either support or disprove one’s hypothesis.

    Anyone who seeks the truth should embrace this approach, at times augmented with personal knowledge, but always with fairness, common sense, and a Holmes-like examination.

    And so, in a sense, Rezinate has already addressed the basis of the accusation that prompted his offer, the charge that FBI agents murdered Pine Ridge women and children, an absurd statement on it’s face, I would argue, but somewhat understandable given the history of AIM leaders successfully deflecting blame, and encouraging others to carry their water. While it is often pointless to try and prove a negative (prove FBI agents did not murder innocent people!), especially when dealing with those who are not interested in finding the truth, it can be instructive in this sense: tracing the allegations back to their source and finding out the particulars can be very illuminating. This I have not done with the above assertion–need more information about who made the allegation and when they made it. Specifics, please.

    In the interim, let’s follow Konnikova’s suggestion and think like Holmes. Consider, for example, the Mr. X story, Peltier’s sworn alibi that fooled many for so long, even the producers of 60 Minutes. Rather than try to prove that Mr. X did not exist, it was much more productive to examine the sources who brought Mr. X to the forefront. The trail, as most of us know, led to the discovery (Dino Butler’s admission) that a meeting took place in actor Max Gale’s house, where the idea for X was hatched, and a subsequent filming in Ward Churchill’s living room, starring Dave Hill. So, far from falling into a trap of illogic (and a pointless argument with superficial thinkers), it was much more revealing to follow the breadcrumbs back to the bakery, much like Doyle has Holmes doing. This puts us in a superior position–we knew Peltier was lying about X before his own attorney figured it out. Kuzma surely did not hear about it from his client.

    Let’s try the “Master Mind” approach with another recent example. At the Wounded Knee Conference in Sioux Falls last year, there were several AIM leaders and supporters in attendance, some of whom howled like hyenas after learning that the Trimbachs were going to be given a chance to present their case against AIM. How unfair, they complained; how could Augustana College allow such blasphemy? The king of AIM outrage, Russell Means, promised to confront the false allegations he knew would be coming his way. This was a tact Means had used successfully in the past, to shut down his critics through shear intimidation. In previous venues, many simply acquiesced to his bullying. Not this time; to his credit, Dr Thompson of Augustana College promised me I would be given the chance to deliver my Powerpoint presentation without interruption. Moments before I began, I scanned the room; Clyde Bellecourt sat in the first row, mere feet from the podium, along with his foaming-at-the-mouth friend. Russell took a position near his academic mouthpiece, Ward Churchill. This was going to be interesting, I thought, especially after hearing about Means’ earlier outburst at a presentation he did not like. Despite Dr. Thompson’s assurances, I had serious doubts that I would get through my entire 40-minute presentation without interruption. Now, put yourself in the room, and try to observe as Sherlock Holmes.

    A few minutes into my presentation, during which I promised to present disturbing, but truthful information about murders and other serious crimes, you observe Russell Means quietly leaving the room. You see him on his cell phone, and about 25 minutes later, you see Senator James Abourezk, an attorney and Sioux Falls resident, arrive and briefly confer with Means. And then, during the Q and A period, you hear the senator attack the presenter about his book on Wounded Knee. Why didn’t Agent in Charge Trimbach hold to AIM’s (Russell’s and Dennis’) offer to stand down after they seemed to abide to reasonable resolution? The senator went on to profess ignorance at the day-to-day negotiations at Wounded Knee, despite his documented claims about having an as yet unidentified close observer providing him daily briefings. And how dare the presenter, me, make an accusation about son, Charlie, also a lawyer (I merely recounted Arlo’s sworn testimony), and, to raucous applause, the senator blurted he “wouldn’t give a plug nickel!” for our book. And the next day, you see an arm-in-arm photo taken of the senator with the people implicated in the murders described during the presentation: Russell, Dennis (drove like mad from Minnesota, I hear, in damage-control mode) and Clyde, who ranted endlessly at the end, his usual gibberish. Put that together with evidence that Charlie Abourezk tried to sabotage Arlo’s legal defense, and that during Charlie’s orchestrated “psycho-drama,” he tried to find out if Arlo remembered seeing him at Bill Means’ house the night they murdered Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. So, Sherlock, what would you conclude?

    Rezinate is correct to say that AIM has enjoyed a long-standing immunity that, it seems, only recently has begun to erode. There are, logically, reasons for this, reasons that can be surmised with Holmes-like examination. As for the allegation in question, federal agents murdering Indians, let us treat the proposition as if it has substance and see where it leads. So, the short answer is this: provide the source for this allegation so we can trace it back to its origins. Who made the allegation, when did they make it, and what evidence did they offer?

    On the larger issues, much can be said. Frustrating as it is, there are several plainly obvious reasons why the AIM leadership survived a series of indictments and prosecutions, much of which is already documented in American Indian Mafia. (For the record, our information originated from four main sources: my father’s recollections and his personnel file obtained through an FOIA request, published papers and documents found in archive centers, books and newspaper articles found in libraries and the Internet, and interviews. There was nothing, other than my father’s career information, that went into the book that was not already publicly available or that could not have been obtained by anyone conducting honest research.) Much of what went into Mafia grew out of one basic question: could we corroborate the official history of AIM as it was presented in most reference books? If not, could we fairly and factually present a truthful rebuttal? By interviewing people who had never been interviewed, examining documents that had been overlooked, and by comparing what people said with what they did, we were able to expose most library books that mention AIM, and it wasn’t that difficult.

    After finding history book after history book supporting a series of obvious fabrications and falsehoods, we felt we needed to expose as many as we could. What started out as a book about a former FBI agent’s experiences at Wounded Knee and the trial that followed, grew into an expose that sought to uncover the historical truth. The idea to turn the book into a repudiation of “established” Indian history was certainly not our original purpose; doing so meant we would need to meet a higher standard of documentation. We knew going in that we would be opposed by not only the guilty but by AIM supporters of all stripes; people who were misled (e.g., the gullible filmmaker Lynn Salt), people who became part of the cover-up (Russell’s pal, Ward Churchill), the so-called historical experts, and of course, those who were predisposed to believe almost any outlandish claim against law enforcement and any equally far-fetched story of innocence from AIM leaders. No one in the publishing world wanted to touch our work. The objections sound almost comical today: could not duplicate, could not corroborate, politically incorrect, didn’t jive with established history books, dishonored well-known Native Americans, on and on. Just read Wikipedia for more examples.

    Moreover, we had little indication that the false stories perpetrated by recognized experts (DeMallie, Johansson, Edmunds) or their crackpot colleagues (Churchill, Weyler, Messerschmidt), as well as their accomplices in the media (Worthington, Rickert), would ever be acknowledged through an honest accounting of the fraud and the need to correct the record. The universities are still full of professors of Indian history who cling to the old AIM line. Collectively, this group claims to be above reproach, with no academic imperative to correct their mistakes or revisit their research. But as we know, the claim that academia’s treatment of the AIM legacy is somehow faithful to Indian history is like saying Congress has been good stewards of our money. This brings me to reason number one as to how a falsified legacy endures.

    1. Because the pack mentality of academia grew the myths, it became more difficult to challenge them. It has proven easier to go with the flow; the sheer inertia pushes the AIM myths further down the digestive tract of history, propelled by higher learning institutions, countless Department of Indian Studies professors at esteemed universities, encyclopedias, media outlets (PBS, NNN, AP, University Presses, Red Nation, Native newspapers which claim to faithfully reflect native interests,) and the more recent disingenuous opportunists, (Hendricks, Magnuson, Claypoole, Norrell.) Somewhere in the mix, the granddaddy of insidious falsification, Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, and it’s spawned by-products, e.g., Incident at Oglala, Tattoo on My Heart, Thunderheart, sit on library shelves waiting to help the next young student with his history assignment. Aside from American Indian Mafia, which is practically banned in many public libraries, there has been no recent, published, cohesive counter argument to the AIM legacy. There is only wind blown cross-contamination and insidious immunity. Thus, Robert Redford NEVER faces tough questions about the falsities in his documentary, Incident at Oglala. Although Peter Matthiessen has appeared on the Charlie Rose show half a dozen times, the obvious goofs and bogus quotes from his killer-con-manifesto, NEVER comes up. Like your average AIM conman, Matthiessen escaped censure behind the shield of another concerned voice for the afflicted.

    In place of this dung heap of history, we see dozens of spurious allegations (FBI agents murdering women and children, FBI used a COINTELPRO against AIM leaders, FBI misconduct in the Means/Banks trial) that serve to divert attention away from the criminals and further pervert the truth.

    2. Media: The media has been AIM’s best friend; look no further than the Minneapolis-St. Paul press corps; forty years of fawning coverage. It’s difficult to prosecute Native American “leaders” in a political environment when the media serves as their PR firm. I was recently contacted by AP reporter Kristi Eaton about the Wounded Knee anniversary. I spoke to her for at least 20 minutes, filling her head with facts and information, and with the assertion that the secret murders at Wounded Knee, the murder of Anna Mae, and the Peltier murders were all connected, and that understanding this was central to understanding how and why the history books are complicit in the crimes. But after passing through the editorial process at AP HQ, the only part that made the final cut was my statement about the real victims of Wounded Knee–the villagers. Not enough to put a damper on the celebratory coverage of the “liberation” (destruction) of Wounded Knee. And of course, not one word about what I had to say regarding Ray Robinson, Leo Wilcox, or Dennis Banks’ involvement in these and other killings.

    3. The Leonard Peltier effect: Although thankfully and finally dying on the vine, the Peltier myth of innocence has worked to shield AIM leaders against accusations of wrongdoing. Inmate Peltier still enjoys the support of Amnesty International, several human rights organizations, Native groups such as Red Nation, the National Congress of American Indians, Native News Network, the Mohawk tribe of New York, and several AIM derivative organizations, not to mention just about every hard-left organization seeking the overthrow of free market capitalism, but a lot of this is historical residue-redo. Recall that in the 1980s, 25 million Soviet citizens petitioned for Peltier’s release and asked the question: Why do those mean Americans persecute an innocent Indian, which of course they had a history of doing. The AIM legacy still benefits from the Peltier faithful’s blind ambition. Today, thousands of Germans, Scandinavians, and Belgians (users.skynet.be/kola) are working to secure Peltier’s freedom, they claim, by exposing the dark history behind this poor man being railroaded into prison. Many well intentioned but uninformed observers on this side of the Atlantic have jumped on the European bandwagon, with disastrous results to their credibility. The cultural landscape is littered with honored figures to whom are conferred amazing investigative skills. In the end, they are exploited just like anyone else who inhales the old AIM fumes, or relies on the word of self-claimed experts. Let’s face it–Mother Teresa was blessed with many gifts; murder investigation skills were not among them. Nelson Mandela is a great selfless leader, but he doesn’t know diddly about the American Indian Movement’s “heroes.” The Most Reverend Dean James Morton was certainly well meaning, but was a complete ignoramus when it came to defending Peltier. Entertainers, as we recently witnessed at the doomed-to-fail Peltier concert in New York City, are among the most gullible among us, and, as in the case of Peter Coyote, gutless when it comes to truthful assertions about AIM. Another category of AIM supporters make up the more knowledgeable but no less trainable defenders, (McKiernan, Hazlitt, Berg) who offer their own first person accounts that are often transparently fragile, narrow-viewed, and extremely misleading. When an AIM supporter cites one of these figures, to the exclusion of other accounts, it is usually a sign of dishonesty and ulterior motives. And as we’ve seen, it can also indicate intractable stupidity.

    4. Lack of response from FBI HQ; the FBI has a longstanding policy of no comment, even when their own agents were being savaged in the press. Long after the trials were over, the Bureau did little to challenge the resulting falsified record. They left it to the historians (a bad move) and their website at fbi.gov to set the record straight. They would tell you that they are not in the business of policing academia, however, that does not excuse their weak efforts to defend the good names of agents whose reputations were destroyed by the media and dishonest authors. Placing Agent David Price at Lompoc prison (never been there in his life), for example, was all Matthiessen needed to send professors of Indian studies and liberal-minded historians into a frenzy of doctrinaire lecturing. Other than the one-time march around the White House (organized by the society of former special agents, not the Bureau) to protest clemency for Peltier, there was no concerted effort to discredit AIM in the media. ITSOCH is still for sale at the National Museum of the American Indian, a taxpayer-funded Smithsonian. That’s not immunity; that’s stupidity.

    5. Corrupt judges. When prosecutors had enough evidence to go forward with a case, as we saw in the federal criminal trial of Means and Banks, a conviction in a courtroom presided over by a corrupt judge was virtually impossible. There were several judges from that era (Nichol, McManus, Lord, Urbom, Heaney) who mistakenly believed that by letting AIM leaders off the hook, they were somehow furthering the Indian cause. This was not a diabolical plot as much as it was judicial buffoonery. Appellate courts were somewhat successful in upholding the law, but as we saw in the Nichols trial of Means and Banks, the damage could not be undone by a higher court; double jeopardy prohibited another trial. It should also be remembered that even in courtrooms overseen by honest judges, the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” necessarily means some guilty get away with the crime—innocent until proven guilty.

    6. Corrupt officers of the court: AIM lawyers were as dirty as their clients. Ken Tilsen and Bruce Ellison, involved in the interrogation/murder cover-up of Anna Mae Aquash, were able to use their status as officers of the court to avoid indictments. It’s tough to prosecute a lawyer, especially when they can invoke attorney-client privilege all day long. Senator James Abourezk has apparently identified himself as the chief counsel for AIM leaders involved in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash; does anyone think Abourezk will be charged as an accessory? What about son, Charlie? Will he be asked to explain why he and his father need to destroy Arlo’s credibility and those seeking justice for Anna Mae? The Abourezks enjoy public support for their efforts to help Native Americans, as do many who were once part of the American Indian Murderers club. They rely on an important PR defense: “I am not mixed up in some silly old AIM murder story—see all the good work I’ve done for Indians?” Another strategy: run out the clock. Witnesses die, memories fade, evidence perishes; it all works in their favor. Never underestimate slippery lawyers.

    7. Prosecutors in search of gonads. No matter how badly FBI agents wanted to put Banks behind bars, or indict Means for murder, there was little they could do if the DA was not on board. Prosecutors decide to indict, try, and litigate, not FBI agents. Mafia has a lot of details about how Banks skirted the law, sometimes courtesy of sympathetic judges. In a recent example, US Attorney Brendon Johnson could not be persuaded to bring an indictment in the Ray Robinson shooting; evidently one witness shy of a probably conviction. This hardly means, however, that Johnson has ties with a supposed immunity deal dating back to the Nixon era. Not that we shouldn’t keep looking, but the “deal” theory continually evaporates when the details are examined, as I suspect will be the case when the details of the “women and children” charge are provided by the accusers. Holmes had his suspicions, too.

    8. Fear and intimidation, the threat from within: If you were an AIM member at Wounded Knee, and you became aware of the interrogations, the torture, the sexual assaults, the murders, and knowing how Means and Banks dealt with anyone who stood in their way, would you be more or less likely to report your suspicions and observations to the authorities? Add to this the stigma of being labeled a sellout and you have a big reason why the inner circle kept a lid on it. Ask any lawyer; no witnesses willing to testify = no prosecution. Russell Means liked to talk about fear being a prime motivator in his life; he forgot to mention how he constantly used it as a weapon to conceal his violent history through threats and intimidation. A former agent says that what Pine Ridge AIM did to Myrtle Poor Bear, for instance, was tantamount to torture. Means was well acquainted with those measures. AIM’s greatest fear was the fear of being prosecuted. After FBI informant Durham’s cover was blown, Dennis Banks’ paranoia reached new heights. Everyone became a suspected traitor. The leadership needed to make an example of someone, somebody who they feared would expose them; they chose Anna Mae. It probably made sense to Banks that he could get away with murder one more time; after all, he had the support of many public officials and newspapers that placed him on a pedestal.

    Back to the original point on AIM immunity—without details, it’s just another theory, nebulous and nonspecific. The closest thing to immunity I’ve seen is the kind secured by father and son Abourezk; they’re in deep. If there was malfeasance on the part of the FBI, we should be willing to back it up with evidence. But we should also point out that virtually all of these accusations came from AIMsters, their lawyers (several of whom were also involved in murder), their supporters, and the lazy intellectuals who have never met, let alone interviewed Native Americans and FBI agents knowledgeable about these events. On the matter of David Hill’s disingenuous attempt to become an informant, I asked the person who dealt with him about this: ASAC Norman Zigrossi. He told me that Hill had nothing to offer. If there are other questions to ask, I’m sure Zigrossi will answer them.

    To summarize, the myths are as entrenched as ever in the historical record. As the saying goes, a lie can travel half way around the world before the truth can put on its shoes. Matthiessen’s lies fed Robert Redford’s imagination, which led to media fixation, and the outrage snowballed into hundreds of indignant professors of Indian history and millions of righteous Peltier supporters. The same sort of fix has inoculated AIM over the years. The solutions and resolutions have come from criminal trials, the only venue which appears to move the historical marker. There are several cases which remain open and unsolved (Leo Wilcox, Jeanette Bissonette, Ray Robinson, possible indictments in the Anna Mae Aquash murder, and several others) and there is always the possibility that justice will prevail. The quest has always been and will continue to be slow in coming.

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