This from the blog In The Spirit of Custer:
“THE TRAGEDY OF MR.MATTHIESSEN’S BOOK IS THAT HE FAILS TO UNDERSTAND THAT HIS HEROES – THE RADICALS OF AIM- DID NOT ACT IN THE SELFLESS SPIRIT OF CHIEF CRAZY HORSE, THAT NOBLE 19th-CENTURY LEADER OF INDIAN RESISTANCE, THEY ACTED MORE IN THE VIOLENT SPIRIT OF CUSTER.BY DOING SO, THEY HELPED TO DESTROY THE DREAMS AND HOPES OF AMERICAN INDIANS.” (CAPS MINE)
Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard Law School.
This is it, concise and to the point-and is reflective of what the leaders and elders said in the ’99 Oyate statement they released.
As Dershowitz points out the AIM leadership were shamelessly devoid of any semblance of nobility-the Oyate said much the same-that AIM was composed of a bunch WANNABE chiefs flying around the country.
A curiosity to me is how any non indigenous person who is a supporter can overlook the words of the traditional leadership in their rush to go Indian, how any among our own can do likewise and at the same time talk about tradition?
The first question/curiosity is relatively easy to explain I think- I believe it has to do with a romantic imagery fostered by Hollywood and internet videos,that and a complete lack of personal familiarity with who we are, our true beliefs, and our communities.
The second is more difficult, but I believe it in part is based upon a need to believe in something and someone.
Every culture has a need of heroes, and while remembering those of the past a need is felt for current ones as well-a need, an opportunity AIM and Peltier recognized and seized upon inspite of the fact they fall pathetically short of the minimal criteria.
I would also point out that archived in this blog, and on an external hard drive as are all important things, are Mark Holtzman’s comments that what the traditional Oyate had to say was meaningless-this from a man who attempts to portray himself as being concerned about the truth, someone who respects tradition and elders, the welfare of our children, says he prays on a pipe, and is a firekeeper.
This statement by the Oyate was made in September of ’99, before the convictions of Arlo, Graham, and Thelma.
Note that it specifically states it is issued by the ONLY LEGAL AND SPIRITUAL GOVERNMENT OF THE LAKOTA OYATE.
The reader should consider those convictions and all that has come to light in the ensuing years and ask themselves how much more right could the Oyate have been fourteen years ago when they basically called AIM liars, thieves, and murderers?
If this statement were to be drawn up and issued today it would undoubtedly be even more scathing.
AIM not only ignored the statement and call but have done everything they can to undermine and usurp the traditional leaders and authority wherever they have gone.
One of the more egregious examples of this was Russell Means attempt to undermine the sovereign right of the Dine, and by extension the right of all nations, to address and adjudicate criminal acts committed within their communities in his infamous Chinle defense following his assault upon his then wife and one armed eighty year old father-in-law. Something he never accepted responsibility for or issued anything even vaguely resembling an apology.
Something people keep this in mind as he and his “book” are being marketed as a spokesman for, and a handbook of matriarchy.
September 28, 1999
H’e Sapa Wakan Inyan
Traditional elders of the Lakota Nation have drafted a press release, in response to the recent information from the elders of the Mi’qmaw Nation about the involvement of the American Indian Movement (AIM) leadership, in collaboration with the FBI and other US governmental agencies, in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash in 1975 on the sacred and ancient lands of H’e Sapa (Black Hills). This is in response to a press conference in Ottawa, Canada held September 16 by the Pictou family, and sanctioned by the Assembly of First Nations.
This is a draft from the only legal and spiritual Government of the Lakota Oyate, in Alliance with the Mato Paha Okolokiciye and the Dakota/Nakota traditional Oyates, as well as the signatories of the 1851 Ft. Laramie/Dog Creek Treaty; as well as the Looking Horse family who are keeping the Canumpa Wakan, and our many humble Sundancers and Pipe-Carriers. These include the 8 district Itanscan and many tiyospayes and their leaders and spokesmen and women, who declared Independence on Mato Paha (Bear Butte), where only the truth can be told, on July 14, 1991 from the illegal colonial US-Canadian government(s).
Akicita Director Bernard Peoples read the following Statement, after extensive Counsels for a week, and Ceremonies:
“We demand that the leadership of AIM come forward and tell the full detailed story of what happened here in the 1970s, and especially the events of 1975 surrounding the firefight on the Jumping Bull property, and the events and people involved in the murder of Anna Mae, whose mutilated body was found in February, 1976.
“The time for secrecy is over. The time for the manipulations of the US oppressors on our People is over, killing us, imprisoning us, starving us, poisoning us with alcohol, and making us too afraid to talk and reveal the truth. We want to know everything Dennis Banks did on June 26, 1975, and exactly where he was that day – for we have the transcript of his Trial in Custer and he was not there that day, so he has no alibi, as he and his apologists have always claimed.
“Exactly what does Leonard Peltier know, and why does he refuse to this day to reveal the full story, even though he has been rotting in American prisons all these years? The People feel betrayed, and we do not feel it is honorable for Peltier and Banks to cover up the truth, especially when so many of our people have been killed and are still dying because of this paranoia, distrust, deceit, greed, and egotism of the AIM leaders. Their silence only looks like arrogance to us, and the elders, while they exploit our cultures and fly around the world acting like chiefs. They are the Wannabes, not the many sincere non-Natives who know and love our people and come here to help us.
“If you are innocent, Dennis, say so to the world, and give us the exact names, places, dates, and all the details of these terrible tragedies we are still suffering from. It means nothing to show up for marches at White Clay and Mobridge and Rapid City if you have lost the trust of the grassroots oyayes and tiyospayes, which you have. AIM is not trusted on our Reservations-Concentration Camps anymore, because of the deceit and double-dealing, and the many stories of your corruption with our young girls, violence to our men, millions of dollars of donations that have never trickled down to the People.
“AIM has been discredited in South Dakota for at least 20 years, and still a handful of urban Indians claim to be leaders, and talk the big talk of Warriors. No. We do not even know charlatans like Ward Churchill around here. This has nothing to do with partisanship, or whether we are pro-Minneapolis AIM or Denver AIM, Inc.
“As a Canadian elder said in a dispatch to us, ‘…when Anna Mae’s name is cleared, AIM will lose the cancer that has polluted it and tried to turn it into AIM INC.’
“We support the heroic efforts of the Mi’qmaw elders and the Pictou family, especially Robert Branscombe-Pictou, to expose these facts and document the case against the accused killers, and to provide convincing evidence. We know it was dangerous for him to go public and announce the truth, as there are still many violent and unprincipled people loose on our homelands, Native and non-Native alike, doing the dirty work of the Pigs-for-Hire. We honor you, Brother!
“We demand the accused participants in the heinous Tribunal of Anna Mae to come forward and clear their names with the facts – if they can. We know of the implications of Thelma Rios and Bruce Ellison, who still reside in Rapid City, in this case as well as the Peltier case, and their direct connection with Dennis Banks and his associates, including Kevin McKiernan who supplied Banks’ false alibi (and which was repeated stupidly by Peter Matthiessen in his deeply flawed book ‘In The Spirit of Crazy Horse’) while he was 100 miles away in Oglala taping and photographing the Firefight. He could not be in 2 places at once, Dennis. Bruce has played the tapes and bragged that he knew who the “real killers” were, but has arrogantly refused to talk all these years. Why? If you are clean, please prove it. Otherwise, you are playing into the FBI’s hands and they are surely laughing at all of us, like they laughed when they murdered women and children at Waco and Ruby Ridge and many places on Pine Ridge.
“As far as we know, only Vernon Bellecourt has issued an official denial in a Canadian newspaper. Quote: ‘We believe very strongly that the FBI and other government agencies on the periphery, were using extremist informants to set up what has been characterized as the execution death of Anna Mae Aquash.’ Unquote. Is that all, Vernon? WHO exactly are those ‘extremist informants’? Enough of the generic rhetoric.
“To John Trudell – please end your silence. We know your paranoia is awful, but you MUST tell us everything and clear yourself before the Spirits. It’s the only way.
“Wakan Inyan will forgive you, even if men do not. AIM is nothing. Truth is everything. Hau.”