Robideau, Robert: Passes on in Barcelona art studio

News From Indian Country

Robert Robideau, a long time activist and artist affiliated with the American Indian Movement passed away in Barcelona, Spain.

According to his niece, Starr Robideau, arrangements as of Feb. 21, were  being made to bring Robideau back to Portland, Oregon where services will be conducted. She also announced on Feb. 22, that an honoring service was in the planning for a location in Edgewood, New Mexico March 14 and 15th.

Robideau apparently suffered a seizure while working in his painting studio at the American Indian Movement Museum he helped create with his wife in Barcelona, on the February 17th.

The seizure, according to family members and doctors in Spain, may have been brought on by brain injuries Robideau received in Kansas in 1975, when his station wagon carrying arms and ammunition for the American Indian Movement exploded on a turnpike.

In the vehicle, law enforcement also found an AR-15 that was linked to shells and eventually Leonard Peltier and alleged to have been the weapon used to kill two FBI agents on June 26, 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Robideau was a long time member of the Autonomous Chapters of the American Indian Movement, and who along with Dino Butler was acquitted at trial in 1977, of shooting to death those FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  His cousin, Leonard Peltier was later convicted of aiding and abetting on the same murder charges and was sentenced to two life terms in prison.

Robideau served two terms as director of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) where he set the stage in the early 1990s for the emergence of a Mr X who claimed to have been responsible for the shooting of the two agents. Robideau introduced Mr. X to former CIA agent and author Peter Matthiessen on February 17, 1990 at Robideau's home, at the time in the Pacific Northwest. Matthiessen went on to write a whole chapter dedicated to Mr. X and included it in updated copies of his book, In The Spirit of Crazy Horse before that, and many other parts of the book became discredited as new facts have emerged.

Several members of the American Indian Movement, including, but not limited too, the late Vernon Bellecourt, former AIM National Chairman John Trudell, and Dino Butler later stepped forward to claim Mr. X was actually Harry David Hill, a current LPDC spokesperson and Autonomous AIM member, and refuted Mr. X's claim of having shot the agents.

However, Robideau passionately argued to the end, that the Federal government never proved who had shot FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams on June 26, 1975 and like him, Peltier should have been acquitted at minimum of all charges on grounds of self-defense. 

In recent years, Robideau actively supported the extradition of John Boy Patton-Graham from Canada, and resigned from the LPDC in 2005 when Peltier and other members of the organization began to actively support Graham's attempt to avoid extradition to the United States from Canada.

Robideau, in a January 31, 2009 interview with Brenda Golden on Red Town Radio named Dennis Banks as the ranking AIM leader in 1975 that gave the orders for the executive of Aquash. During the lengthy interview, Robideau also charged that the government would utilize any upcoming testimony in the Aquash trials as a way to prevent Peltier from receiving a positive parole hearing.

Graham is awaiting trial in Rapid City, South Dakota on charges he aided and abetted in the First Degree Premeditated Murder of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash on or around Dec. 11, 1975 on orders of senior members of the American Indian Movement who thought she was an FBI informant. Peltier, still in the United States on that date, is the only prominent AIM member involved in the case that has not accounted for his where-abouts during that time period.

Robideau accused AIM brothers Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt for initiating the actions against Aquash, and claimed that AIM Attorney Bruce Ellison of Rapid City, South Dakota had a hand in framing Aquash as a "snitch." But Peltier himself, according to court testimony bragged to Aquash and several other people, including KaMook Nichols-Banks and Bernie Lafferty at the time about shooting the agents, leading to speculation about motives. Robideau argued that whatever Peltier had said to Aquash, Banks and Lafferty, would not have been said if he did not trust the three.

Born on November 11, 1946 in Portland, Oregon, Robideau was a member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, an umbrella tribal enrollment organization that encompasses Ojibwe descendants who had an accumulative blood quantum of several tribes, including the White Earth Ojibwe and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, both of which Robideau was a descendant of.

While Robideau remained involved in AIM politics and actions, his move to Spain to open a museum and paint meant his visits to the United States became less frequent. His son told the Associated Press that his father moved to Spain about 10 years ago but traveled widely in Europe speaking at universities on political issues and movements.

Robideau is survived by his wife, Pilar; and two sons, Michael and Bobby.

More Information may be forthcoming.

 AIM Documents on Aquash/Peltier