(2004) Dedicated to Annie Mae: Interview with Leonard Peltier

Dedicated to the Spirit of Annie Mae
by Paul DeMain,
Published in the year 2004
Editors Note: For over twelve years News From Indian Country has conducted more than 70 interviews on and off the record regarding the execution of Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash in early Dec. 1975. We stand by the results of that investigation, which revealed to us that various members and leaders of the American Indian Movement, allegedly including Leonard Peltier, were consulted after her kidnapping and share responsibility for the events and orders by the American Indian Movement that led to her death.

Also see Canadian Broadcast Corporation special program Silenced: The Execution of Anna Mae aired June 27, 2001

My intent, and that of other NFIC writers, has always been to find the truth, help bring the deceptions by the FBI and AIM to an end, and help people find some closure on both these issues. The following interview indicates that 27 years ago, an investigation by AIM uncovered who murdered Annie Mae, though in my own opinion, AIM didn’t need to conduct an investigation into their own actions. And as shocking as some may find it, after many years of supporting and advocating clemency for Leonard Peltier, the News From Indian Country editorial staff no longer believes Leonard Peltier is innocent of shooting the agents at close range as he has so often proclaimed. See our editorial, "Leonard Peltier. Now what do we do?" when we show you some of the reasons we have come to this conclusion.

The following narrative from Leonard Peltier in his own words, is from an interview with Serle L. Chapman found in We, The People of Earth and Elders Volume II, and represents an excert from several lengthy interviews with members of the AIM to be published in Blood, Sweat and Tears: Inside the American Indian Movement. We, The People, was released by Bear Print International Limited (Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana 1-800-234-5308 ISBN 0-9528607-5-9) in March of 2002 with a vast array of Native individuals across the country, including Joseph Medicine Crow, Joanne Shenandoah, Wilmer Mesteth, Mary Kimberlie Titla, Keith Secola, Kevin Red Star, N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria Jr., Joy Harjo and others.

We ask the question, how did Leonard Peltier know
that Annie Mae Pictou Aquash was dead in December,
when her body was not
identified until March of 1976?

Regretfully Yours,
Paul DeMain,
Editor, News From Indian Country


Interview with Leonard Peltier by Serle Chapman

Whoever killed Anna Mae Aquash, whoever did the dirty work for the FBI, I think they were duped. Those guys were tricked into doing this and I don’t believe that they had any personal dislike for her or just wanted to hurt her, I think these people were just misled. There was such hysteria about people being FBI agents and we knew that the FBIs put out shit about Anna Mae.

You know, you can tell an informer. I knew with Doug Durham, I just knew there was something wrong with him. I’m not going to say it’s a gift or whatever but I’ve been able to sense it, my instincts have been real good. One time when I confronted Doug Durham I saw the look on his face and Leroy Six Toes was standing next to me as my witness. When we walked away and we looked at each other I said, "That guy’s a rat", and Leroy said, "Yeah, I seen it too. He’s a rat."

I'’ve been able to sense it about these people and that’s why I had gone in to question Durham, but at that time he was so close to Dennis (Banks) I couldn'’t say anything about it. Of course I told Dennis, "Hey, there’s something wrong with this guy. How well do you know him?" And Dennis got kind of irritated and looked upset. Doug Durham wanted me out of there and he’d say to Dennis, "Why don’t you give them some money and they can go back to South Dakota," stuff like that.

I think it was around that December when I heard that Anna Mae was dead. I was in that jail over there in Canada right around whenever they exposed who she really was and what she died from, but I believe I didn'’t hear about it until December. When people say that she tried to contact me, that’s a lie. If she’d have tried to contact me then she would have been with me, and there’s no doubt in my mind because the Indian people knew where I was; certain people knew where I was at.

Editors Note: The problem with the December date and being in jail is that Peltier was not arrested until Feb. 1976 at Smallboys Camp. By December, 1976, Peltier, and his attorneys had petitioned the Canadian government and court for months not to send him back to the U.S. arguing that he might meet the same fate as Annie Mae. So finding out in December 1976 is way beyond the date he found out about her death. It appears that this date may be a true Freudian slip consistent with many members of AIM knowing of her execution for allegedly being a "rat" on December 12, 1975.

She would not; I mean, I know she didn'’t try to contact me. This is something that has to get out, out there: some of these people are just outright lying. I know it because how in the hell, all of a sudden, are they involved in this twenty-five years later? ‘Oh, I know this. I know that.’ Well, they didn’'t know shit before and all of a sudden twenty-five years later they know something?

All of this information that these people are going around this country with is the same information that we had through our investigation back in the seventies.

Leonard Peltier

All of this information that these people are going around this country with is the same information that we had through our investigation back in the seventies. Right after it was revealed that the body they buried as ‘Jane Doe’ was Anna Mae Aquash we immediately began organizing and trying to get an investigation going, and all of the evidence that we uncovered from that time is what these people are going around the country using.

Everybody has their own agendas now. As the years go by with these so called brothers of mine, these Sun Dance brothers, I imagine that there’s some jealousy about the symbol that I’'ve become, but one of the things I want them to know is, ‘Hey, I'’ll trade you places. You can have this place.’ I never wanted it from the beginning and I don'’t want it now, but we don’'t turn against our people. We don'’t turn against our own.

This is an oath we made in the Sun Dance, this is an oath we made on the canupa, the sacred pipe — we do not turn against our own. And some of you guys out there are doing that, you’re turning against your own like a bunch of goddamned hyenas. Because they have personal vendettas against each other and they dislike one another, they are going around and making all of these accusations in the media to not only gain attention for themselves but to try and cause harm to a fellow American Indian Movement brother and in any place in the world that is not only an informant, in prison you would be considered a goddamned rat. And that’'s what they are, they are rats.

In prison you would be considered a goddamned rat. And that'’s what they are, they are rats.

I had a guy on my visiting list who told me that he could get me out; he specifically said, "I talked to these people and they said if you can help us in any way to get a conviction over Anna Mae that they will immediately move you from this prison. The minute you say yes, they will immediately move you from this prison, give you some protection, and then it will just be a matter of time before you’'re released." He didn'’t say them by name but he had talked to the prosecuting attorneys in Denver, Colorado. I said, "Well, I don'’t know anything." Then he said, "You could still help us."

So I sat back and I looked at him and said, "You’re asking me to be a Myrtle Poor Bear then? Do you want me to make something up? What makes you think that’s going to help?" And he said, "Well, with your influence, more Indians will come forward and then we could be sure that we’ll put these bastards in prison." Or that’s what he thought. I said, "I’'m not going to do that! You’'re full of shit. Don'’t ask me that shit."

I took him off my visiting list after that and if I was outside I'’d kick his ass. So that’'s what they’'re doing right now and the end result is that these people will suffer like Myrtle Poor Bear did. Myrtle Poor Bear has been ostracized by her own people. Every place she goes they are continuously brutalizing her — they'’re not killing her, not like this here — but they'’ll beat her up. She has been going through her own mental torture for the last twenty-five years from her own people.

To learn more checkout: Facebook.com/AnnieMaePictouAquash