INDEPTH: ANNA MAE PICTOU-AQUASH|
Bury her heart at Wounded Knee
CBC News Online | February 21, 2005
Who killed Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash? The 30-year-old aboriginal activist, a Mi'kmaq from Nova Scotia, died in 1975, believed assassinated either by agents with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation or by senior members of the American Indian Movement (AIM).
Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash with her children (file photo)
In 1973, some 200 AIM activists gathered in southwestern South Dakota and seized the village of Wounded Knee, a geographical locale of iconic significance among Native Americans because of the massacre there of 150 Sioux by the U.S. cavalry in 1890. Tension continued for two years and escalated in 1975 to a brutal confrontation between AIM and the U.S. government. The AIM activists held off FBI agents at Wounded Knee that summer for 71 days.
Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, two FBI agents were killed at Wounded Knee in June 1975, both shot in the head at close range. Leonard Peltier, a senior AIM member, has spent nearly 30 years in prison for the murders. He has always maintained his innocence and has attracted high-level support for his case that he was unjustly convicted.
In February 2004 in Rapid City, S.D., a federal jury convicted Arlo Looking Cloud of the first-degree murder of Pictou-Aquash. In December 2003, John Graham was arrested in Vancouver in the killing of Pictou-Aquash. At the time of the trial in Rapid City, Graham is free on bail in Vancouver, fighting a U.S. extradition attempt.
The shocker, however, is that Peltier, now 58, has become a suspect in Pictou-Aquash's murder. Peltier has become a poster boy for the unjustly convicted, befriended by the likes of Nelson Mandela and Robert Redford and others who believe the FBI framed him. The suggestion was raised at the Rapid City trial that Peltier ordered the woman's execution because of suspicions she was an FBI informer.
Some in AIM suspected Pictou-Aquash was an informer and had to be silenced because she had heard Peltier describe in detail how he had killed the two FBI agents. One thing sure, Pictou-Aquash certainly talked like a militant AIM member. In 1975, she said:
"These white people think this country belongs to them. They don't realize that they are only in charge right now because there's more of them than there are of us. The whole country changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that came over here in the 1500s. And it can take a handful of raggedy-ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those raggedy-ass Indians."
She also became an integral part of Buffy Sainte-Marie's famous song, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."
One stanza goes:
My girlfriend Annie Mae talked about uranium
Her head was filled with bullets and her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands and told us she'd died of exposure
Loo loo loo loo loo
Peltier also gets a mention in Buffy's song:
We got the federal marshal
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by the fire
We got the FBIs
They lie in court and get nailed
And still Peltier goes off to jail
Arlo Looking Cloud was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Pictou-Aquash.