[Note: What follows below is a Letter to the Editor of News from Indian Country.]
I for one applaud the verdict of guilty in the Arlo Looking Cloud case. But condemn the use of KaMook to implicate Leonard Peltier, who I know had nothing to do with the killing of Anna Mae, simply because he had absolutely no influence with those named in the case.
After my release from Leavenworth federal prison in 1979 many people in the movement came to me and began to tell me about how they had involved themselves with the killing of Anna Mae, but I told them that I did not want to hear another word about it because at the time I truly believed that the feds must be held responsible for the murder of Anna Mae. I believed that through their Cointelpro manipulations they were able to cast suspicions on her that eventually got her killed.
But in 1990 during my last tenor as National/International Director for the LPDC my feeling began to change. I had just finished registration to attend IAIA in Santa Fe New Mexico when Leonard called me and asked that I return and take over the National Office. At that same time I was invited to lunch by Eda Gordon who said that John Trudel was in town and would be at the lunch as well. During lunch I told John that Leonard had invited me back and his response was "Don't go back Leonard has lost his respect for the people." I said, no I couldn't do that because I still had the responsibility of defending our actions at Oglala, and part of that had become the continued struggle for Leonard's freedom.
As far as I have ever been concerned the killing of the agents was justified, they were warriors acting out the orders of their superiors, shooting to kill. They were shot in the head at close range, but they were killed honorable. Because we too were warriors fighting in defense of our people and land I have no remorse for the actions we took against our enemies in the heat of this defensive action. A jury agreed with our actions, and rightly they should.
Shortly after returning to the National office John Trudel began sending rumors that David Hill could not be trusted and when I attempted to get Dino Butler to give Leonard support he told me that he did not trust David Hill, who began working with me for Leonard. I never believed once that the FBI had anything to do with John's rumor mongering.
But because of Johns reputation, it did have the effect of closing off people like Dino, Nilok Butler and many others who looked up to him and followed his every word. I challenged John about it during a meeting at Mac Gails' home in Santa Barbara. John said, in the presence of Bruce Ellison and Dino Butler that it was a "Man Woman Thing." I came to learn later that John was jealous about the relationship that David had had with Jackie Worledo, who had been one of John's snags.
By 1993 anger at how AIM leaders had and were still behaving I and others spear headed the AIM Tribunal that resulted from the Edgewood Declaration. At that same time Troy Lynn asked me to meet her,that she had some things to tell me. Local Colorado AIM brought me to her and she told me her story and John was in it.
At that point the anger I was feeling about "National AIM" lead me to form suspicions that John Trudel knew more than what he had been telling us all those years. That it was a possibility he knew who was involved and might himself have been involved. He had been the National spokesperson then, he had had a meetings with Dennis and the Bellecourts shortly after Anna Maes' body was found. He had the confidence of all those involved, ect., ect., As a result of my anger and suspicions I confronted him in New Mexico, taping the conversation in preparation for another AIM tribunal, similar to the one we had just finished in Rapid City, South Dakota against the Bellecourts. I learned a lot from that conversation with John. Dispite all his denials at that time part of it is now in this case record.
Except to say that all of those cases that have cropped up over the years that had leaders pointing fingers had to do with jealous feelings born out selfish needs, aspirations and fear, in my opinion, not because of the feds' Cointelpro activities.
In the case of Anna Mae I believe that she was ordered killed by a leader who did fear her and who had experienced the impact and devastating results of a real FBI informer who at that time was his right hand man . This leader had the influence of moving those who played their part in the killing of Anna Mae. In this respect the COINTELPRO activities of the fed's did play its effect on a man's fear of imprisonment. Now another close to this leader, KaMook, trusted and loved by many of us who knew her has come foreword as a federal informant. The man was not Leonard Peltier.
KaMook says that Leonard confessed in the presence of Anna Mae that he killed the agents as a test of her allegiance to them, because she says, "Leonard and Dennis did not trust her." There seems to be a contradiction that tells me + and - does not equal the truth. If Leonard said it, he said it because he did trust her.
I think KaMook is as confused to the details of those times as the rest of us,..but she did say it,only because it is what the fed's wanted to put on the record for future use against Leonard and not because it had much relevance in the reality of the case. Leonard, nor did our group, work with the Bellecourts, Bill Means and others named in the trial. We did work with Carter Camp and his group who were at odds with the Bellecourts and company. If you would have taken the time to ask, any member of Northwest AIM could have and would have testified that we had always disapproved of their behavior. In all the years that I worked as the LPDC director the Bellecourts never once called to ask what was happening with Leonard's case.
But KaMook did testify to one very interesting event in October of 1975. She said that Dennis Banks, David Hill, Anna Mae and others had set bombs in different locations in Pine Ridge. I feel that this bit of information was not considered seriously enough for motive in killing Anna Mae.
David Hill related the same story to me while I was the National Director for Leonard in 1991. Than I remembered reading in Kenneth Sterns' book, Loud Hawk, that "Dennis was worried that they might try to stick one of the 1975 bombings around the reservation on him." There was only one leader amongst them with the motivation and fear to move the Bellecourts and others to kill Anna Mae. As Russell Means said: "Dennis Banks was so paranoid after Douglass Durham. He thought everyone was an informer, even Anna Mae." Matthiessen - In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.
KaMook than testified to the revealing phone call with her husband, Dennis Banks, who called her on Feb. 24, 1976 to tell her that Anna Mae was dead on the same day her body was found. "When in fact the body would not be identified for some days after that date."
Then I thought back to the Farmington, New Mexico AIM conference in 1975 and recalled that Leonard, Dino and myself had picked up Dennis Banks from the local airport the same day that we received orders to take Anna Mae out and question her about the rumor that she might be an FBI informant. I was told recently, Anna Mae told someone she trusted, that Leonard put a gun to her head. Well, I don't know about that because Dino and I remained by the car while Anna Mae and Leonard disappeared over a hill. I do know that the three of us walked away satisfied she was not an agent. She later became a member of our group. But evidently others were not convinced.
There is a lot of talk about KaMooks' confessions as an FBI informant, I for one will never condemn her, but nothing about John Trudel's true confessions and expressions. "The impression that I got was that he (Arlo Looking Cloud) didn't know what the end result was going to be. I will say that, but it happened, and he played his part." And "See, after they left that house, I don't know about surprise anymore, because somebody said to do this. John Boy and Arlo and Theda, they weren't decision makers. They did what they were told."
It is pretty clear to me what John is saying,..all three are guilty, including those that told them to do it. It is not reported that John testifies about excuses that cointelpro was the driving force for their act.
Oh, I don't hear anyone calling John a snitch and what he had to say before the jury, in my book, is called testifying for what the government wants to hear, an indictment and condemnation of the people responsible. John didn't confess, like KaMook, as a government agent, but his testimony was in equal standing, and had more impact for conviction.
There are a lot of unanswered questions here but the future will tell, as it was with guilty hearts that all those who came to me with their confessions told and expressed, so too are others beginning to assemble and tell their stories.
It is known that John Trudel had been working with Floyd Westerman, a supporter of the Bellecourts, in raising funds for the John Graham defense committee, but after his testimony in the Looking Cloud trial in Rapid City, South Dakota, he pulled out. A lot of people are beginning to pull up stakes and with it comes a dark shadow begins to loom over the heads of those responsible for their cowardly act of killing this brave hearted Indian women.
Those of us who choose to defend our communities and land did this not because we feared government spies and apples, but because we believed in what we were doing was necessary and right. This ideal that moved us than has been lost in the dust that has been kicked up by leaders of AIM who like irresponsible children have claimed fiefdoms for their own glory and enrichment and they have become no better than the enemy we fought.
They make claims today to hide their own guilt that our enemy must be held responsible for the death of Joe Stuntz and Anna Mae. Joe because he was killed by our enemy, I see no dishonor or need to challenge the obvious, unlike the leaders who hide behind fear and lies...he was a warrior and died with pride befitting one.
Anna Mae, a warrior too, is honored and forever remembered by those of us who knew her not to be a lie.
I for one have learned to respect my enemy and acknowledge that they succeeded, in some part, in setting us against each other. Call it cointelpro or what ever you like ,the end result, a crime against Indian people and the Movements' achievements dishonored.
An act committed by one, a founder of AIM, nevertheless with the heart of a coward ordered Anna Mae's execution. He and those that followed his dictates must pay their dues and I feel in the enemies court is a proper and fitting place for these individuals who would not in the last 30 years show some remorse to their people who had given them their trust and with this act betrayed.
John Boy, I hope, will follow in the footsteps of Arlo because it is the only way to the top and as John said, "They did what they were told."
And as Russ Redner says, "Above all this case is about respect and those involved disrespected an Indian woman." informer or not, "responsible for giving life" to our future generations, this act is unforgivable and it is proper and fitting punishment that they be banished to fend for themselves.
Note: I have sent my statement to: Dennis Banks, the Bellecourts, Bill Means, "National AIM", John Graham Defense Committee and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, giving them an opportunity to correct and/or refute anything I said. I did not receive a response. I will accept any and all responses to my statement at the following home phone/fax and/or e-mail address.ROBERT ROBIDEAU, Long standing Member of Northwest AIM, Dakota AIM, Colorado AIM, Spokesperson for New Mexico AIM. Former Director of LPDC and co-defendant and 1st cousin of Leonard Peltier