Annie Mae Timeline I - Wounded Knee

This detailed chronology of the last years in the life of Annie Mae Aquash is constructed from over 80 written or tape recorded interviews, trial transcripts, FBI file documents, newspaper accounts, and four books published by authors Joanna Brand in 1978, former CIA agent Peter Matthiessen in 1983, Kenneth Stern in 1994 and Serle Chapman in 2001. In addition, material found elsewhere within these web pages came from a 1999 Denver press conference, Native American Calling programs, a lengthy interview with Richard Two Elk in June of 2000, from transcripts of the trial of Arlo Looking Cloud in 2004, and the extradition documents of John Boy Patton Graham, from Canada 2003-2007. This chronology began under going an updating during June of 2007 and continues.

Annie Mae Pictou Aquash
Time Line

An Investigation by
News From Indian Country

 

Original Posted January, 1997
Updated March 18, 1998, October 25 and 28, 1999
October 10, 2001, June 2007, continuing

Many others stories about Annie Mae (Anna Mae Aquash) from several sources may be found and accessed through ETHNIC NEWS WATCH at your school or public library and online at www.Highbeam.com

Editor's Introduction (Originally written by Yakama Journalist Richard V. LaCourse)

This detailed chronology of the last year in the life of Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash is constructed from over 80 written or tape recorded interviews, trial transcripts, FBI file documents, newspaper accounts, and several books on the subject. In addition, material found elsewhere within this web page from a 1999 Denver press conference, Native American Calling programs and lengthy interview with Richard Two Elk in June of 2000 have been utilized as part of this chronology.

A series of some 80 interviews have been conducted on and off the record between the summer of 1994 and the present by Paul DeMain, Minnie Two Shoes, Richard LaCourse, Lori Townsend and several other individuals and reviewed by members of the Native American Journalists Association. In addition, attorneys for Indian Country Communications, Inc. publishers of News From Indian Country have reviewed much of the body of this information, source documents and recorded interviews to ascertain a defense in the face of threatened or implied libel suits by AIM associates Vernon Bellecourt, Bruce Ellison and a lawsuit by Leonard Peltier that was later withdrawn before any depositions, or motions to dismiss for "lack of cause" could be filed.

Persons interviewed include some top AIM leaders, present and former members of AIM, persons subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury probe into her death, law enforcement personnel and individuals present at various events and locations during Annie Mae Aquash's last year.

In line with press law, this newspaper has provided confidential anonymity to some of those interviewed while double checking their assertions, and eliminating those which could not be confirmed.

The time lines in this chronology grew from the legal and public record of that year and become more specific with the testimony of the interviews. Some specific calender dates are approximate because of the passage of time. This amplified time line provides the scenario of this chronology.

AIM leaders in some instances specified here have publicly denied their involvement and continue to argue publicly that the FBI or reservation “goons” executed Aquash.

Several persons interviewed have stated they were happy to get this information off their chest, even if her death is never fully resolved. Some interviewees were profoundly angry at having information on the circumstances of her death but were unsure with what to do with that information. These interviewees said they did not trust the FBI, and some said they feared certain members of the top AIM leadership.

NFIC has learned that many other members of AIM are aware of other unnamed participants in the holding, interrogation, transportation and killing of Aquash in her last days. Putting confirmed assertions into this chronology may allow others to come forward with additional information.

Vern Bellecourt claims that AIM was infiltrated by FBI extremist informants in the Aquash case and bad-jacked Aquash as an informant, though the only people NFIC have found who thought Annie Mae was an informant were leadership, such as Vernon Bellecourt and his brother Clyde, Leonard Peltier, and other leadership members and attorneys of the American Indian Movement. Former FBI agent Norman Zigrossi in a November 2000, CBC - Fifth Estate special program says that Annie Mae was not working for the FBI as an informant. When asked how he knew, Zigrossi stated, “because he (the informant) was a friend of mine.”

Some of the persons named in the following chronology were close friends of Annie Mae. Others were those whom eyewitnesses have asserted were parties to the death of Aquash, or played a significant and decisive role in the chain of final events leading to her death.

Five federal grand juries have been convened into her death in March of 1976 in Pierre, S.D., November of 1983 in Sioux Falls, S.D., August 1994 in Pierre and again in Sioux Falls on November 17, 1999 and once again in 2002 after which indictments were issued against John Boy Patton-Graham and Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud.

Annie Mae Aquash Time Line: 1973

1973 Wounded Knee:
The American Indian Movement occupies Wounded Knee, South Dakota in protest to the corrupt tribal policies of then President, Richard Wilson. Annie Mae is part of the occupation, along with other significant AIM members including Russell Means, Carter Camp, Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt. During the year 2001 memorial at Jumping Bull Compound much of the back ground discussions involved more than just trying to heal the pain of that June 1975 event. Serious discussion takes place about the deaths of Frank Clearwater and Buddy LaMont who were killed inside Wounded Knee in 1973. (See 26th Anniversary of “Sacrifice” at Oglala by Minnie Two Shoes, NFIC Late July 2001.) Several people are convinced that Buddy LaMont's death (LaMont is killed on April 27, 1973) is an inside job - an accusation that News From Indian Country has not substantiated, and according to all available documentation, is at the hands of a U.S. government bullet shot into Wounded Knee. However, the rumors persist.

April 22, 1973: Numerous public reports exist regarding the cross hanging of a man inside Wounded Knee accused of being an informant. The man, whose name is unknown, has become known inside discussion circles as "Mannequin Man" as described by Vernon Bellecourt who claimed the man hung and beat on the cross was just that, a Mannequin. According to several participants of the beating, including a recorded interview with one of the participants, Richard Two Elk, Mannequin Man was placed upon the cross, and beaten at the request of AIM/Wounded Knee security as an alleged informant. Two Elk says, they were finally ordered to stop the beating after several hours and an ultimation by US forces watching from the perimeter of Wounded Knee, and that Manequin Man was then cut down, put in the Wounded Knee ambulance and taken to RB1. (RB1 is the only legitimate monitored way in and out of Wounded Knee at this time and is manned by US Marshals, FBI and medical personal.) A review of the transcripts and notations of personnel at RB1, on April 22, 1973 - and several days before and after, indicates that no individual fitting the description of Mannequin Man is brought out through RB1. Mannequin Man is now believed to be one of several missing Wounded Knee participants that are alleged buried there in unmarked graves.

(MOTIVE #1)
April 23, 1973: Perry Ray Robinson Jr., a disciple of Martin Luther King enters Wounded Knee, is observed by several individuals, including "Crazy Al" Cooper who had known him from previous actions in the deep south associated with Martin Luther King. Robinson earns a confrontation reputation, "wanting to participate" in meeting with the leadership. He is describe by one former AIM member as a "loud mouthed nigger, who refused to pick up a gun during a firefight," and is labeled suspicious by AIM. Robinson is allegedly shot in the knee according to Richard Two Elk during a bunker confrontation inside Wounded Knee, by Harry (Mr. X) David Hill, according to a narrative attributed to Dennis Banks. Along and provoking the confrontation is Leonard Crow Dog, of which part of the confrontation is attributed because of "lack of respect," shown towards Crow Dog. Carter Camp of AIM security and several other Wounded Knee security personnel are also allegedly in attendance including Frank Blackhorse aka Frank DeLuca who later fled, and remained in Canada under various aliases. Robinson is reportedly transported to the Wounded Knee clinic overseen by Madonna Gilbert and Lorelie DeCory-Means and passes away from lack of medical assistance. (Ray Robinson is killed on or around April 25, 1973)

"I had to make the decision not to bring in Buddy Lamont until late afternoon after I knew he was killed in the early morning. I had to leave Ray's life to fight alone in eagle bunker after he was shot through both legs. I did these things to save other Indian lives."

Carter Camp to AIM Leadership: December 1973 after Camp
shot Clyde Bellecourt
Original transcription from handwritten jail letter by the late Richard LaCourse

 

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Perry Ray Robinson

According to Bernie Lafferty and KaMook Nichols, several AIM leaders attending a meeting at the Wounded Knee house/office of Dennis Banks discuss what to do with Robinson's body, eventually selecting Christ (Chris/Cris) Westerman, the younger brother of Floyd Westerman to take the body out and bury it, near Wounded Knee Creek, near several other bodies that Leonard Crow Dog indicated were victims of the Wounded Knee 1973 occupation.

Other people who have either confirmed the presence of Robinson inside Wounded Knee and/or know details about his death and/or burial inside Wounded Knee are Allen (Crazy Al) Cooper, Carter Camp, Richard Two Elk, Dennis Banks, Stan Holder, Marlette Thunder Horse, Leonard Crow Dog, Sandra Brim, Frank Black Horse, Keith Demaras, Cheryl Buswell-Robinson, Robert Anderson, the late Johnny Flynn, KaMook Ecoffey, Bernie Lafferty,  Hank Adams, Associated Press reporter, Carson Walker, Catherine Martin, Jeanne Davies, Barb Nixon, Derek Whirlwind, Janice Denny, the late Stanley Hollow Horn, the late Matthew King, the late Jannie Waller, the late Vernon Bellecourt, the late Barbara Deming, the late John Carmichael and the book author Steve Hendricks.

May 13, 1973: Matthew King, an Oglala elder and interpreter for Chief Frank Fools Crow, who spent time inside Wounded Knee and as a negotiator reports to the FBI that there is as many as "12" graves containing the bodies of several unidentified female corpses "just outside the perimeter of Wounded Knee." (FBI Airtel 5/14/73 - FOI)

Date of manuscript unknown. Female author identified only by references to Iroquois Confederacy as she writes about being inside Wounded during this same time period. "There were two publicized deaths, those of Frank Clearwater and Buddy LaMont, but there were also eight freshly-dug graves found in the surrounding hills... All of this was quickly hushed up."

June 28-29, 1973: TITLED RE: Unidentified bodies buried Wounded Knee Vicinity - Lake Headly, Fritz Feiten, Jeanne Davies, Ellen Moves Camp and Martha Swenson on behalf of the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee attempt to meet an AIM "informant" who had reported the presence of eight graves inside Wounded Knee. The informant's identity is not revealed to the investigators and this person does not show. The investigative team however goes to a location described by the contact and takes numerous pictures of the location, including pictures of a back pack, newspapers, clothes and other miscellaneous provisions. All of this material is marked and booked as evidence by the investigative team. Included in the material obtained is a large sample quantity of "reddish-brown" stain thought by the undersigned (named above) "to be possible blood stains." The investigators indicate that they have begun "arranging a test at the Institute of Forensic Sciences, Oakland, California."

The report is turned over to AIM Leadership, Ramon Roubideaux, Luke McKissack and Attorney Ken Tilsen. No further report, documents or evidence collected is found or referenced in the South Dakota WKLDOC, or Ken Tilsen WKLDOC files at the Minnesota Historical Society under this case notation.

1974

(MOTIVE #2)
Anicinaabe Provincial Park is taken over by the Ojibway Warrior's Society funded and armed by Vernon Harper, the head of Toronto AIM, and the Communist Party of Canada. Annie Mae swims weapons into the park from a raft across a lake after picking up munitions from the east coast, and visiting her daughters in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Dennis Banks in middle, George C. Roberts is on close right with hat.

Late 1974 (MOTIVE #3)
Annie Mae is working in Los Angeles, California and is under the surveillance of the FBI part of the time as she involved herself in fund raising for AIM from prominent Hollywood actors such as Marlo Brando, Harry Bellefonte, and Jane Fonda. The Los Angeles AIM organization is overseen by George C. Roberts, (A non-Indian and member of the Communist Party USA) who is allegedly involved in drug dealing through the importation of Peruvian antiques and repair of SUV toilets when they arrived back from Mexico. Dennis Banks names Roberts as AIM National Media Coordinator in 1974.

Roberts himself is later accused of being a CIA operative by members of AIM, in particular by Vernon Bellecourt after Roberts and Doug Durham fly to Canada to bring back Banks who is in hiding there. Also present in Los Angeles during this period are Rod Skenandore and Rudolph Corky Gonzales of the Crusade For Justice. (see also the testimony of Mathelene White Bear) Roberts is responsible for helping bail out several members of the Crusade who are charged with shooting a Los Angeles, California undercover narcotics agent during a drug deal in 1974. Skenandore shows up in Denver, Colorado from the west coast shortly before Annie Mae is kidnapped on or around December 10, 1975 and both he, and Gonzales are present when Annie Mae is taken into custody by AIM.

"'When I got there, you asked a lot of questions about "We're going to order George Roberts to come here, what do you think about that, hey?' I guess it's lucky for me that I suppressed an immediate burst of pure research enthusiasm, on reflecting that he was probably why Annie Mae was killed, and just to get a close look at him on my home turf - I didn't think I could handle it, much less other people."

Private Investigator Paula Giese in letter to Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, March 2, 1994. Giese in 1975 was assigned the task of completing several black-bag jobs on the offices and home of George Roberts to see what she could glean about his past and current affairs for the Bellecourt brothers. She is discussing Annie Mae in this letter in the context of Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt and Ken Tilsen having confronted her and accused her of being an FBI pig.

(MOTIVE #4)
December 3, 1974: According to newspaper and police reports. Penobscot tribal member Johnny Moore is killed in the AIM-Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense barracks in Lincoln, Nebraska. The office of attorneys and AIM members is overseen by Attorney Ken Tilsen and wife Rachael, both who are affiliated with organizations and groups associated with the Communist Party USA. Moore is killed in the early morning hours by a knife wound from the side of his neck that severs the jugular vein and detaches the esophagus completely. Another wound on his face, which is determined to have been the first, chips his cheekbone.

Police complain that attorneys for AIM, advised other AIM members to refuse to answer questions from the police. After a lengthy investigation, police conclude that Moore, who is reported despondent and suicidal in investigation reports from those staying at the AIM barracks, may have committed suicide. According to others who saw Moore, there was no reason to believe that Moore was having any issues other than a subpoena to testify against another AIM member, Stanley Neptune.

Jean Moore, Johnnie Moore's mother, said it took eight years for the police to change the determination from suicide to "undetermined" based on material provided by local law enforcement officials that took exception with the original official explanation of probable suicide. The investigation that led to a change in the death certificate was led by the Nebraska state police who interviewed Lincoln, Nebraska law officers. The basic problem identified by investigators at the time, was a wall of silence and non-cooperation by AIM members present when Moore is killed.

Moore was subpoenaed to testify against Stanley Neptune regarding an incident that occurred around the occupation of Wounded Knee in which a law enforcement officer's foots was run over. Members of AIM determined, with the help of AIM's Security and Intelligence, the arm of AIM that Vern Bellecourt and Ken Tilsen oversaw, that Moore was an informant and he is killed.

Present or nearby according to police reports and interviews conducted when Moore is killed are: Bernardo Escamilla, Melvin Lee Houston, Kenny Kane, Beau Little, Frank Martinez, Dusty Nelson aka: John Yellow Wood Star, Bobby (Robert Charles) Onco, Stanley Neptune, John Thomas, Michael J. Clifford, AIM attorneys Edward F. Haber, Jack J. LeVine, and Rolf E. Bert. According to NFIC sources cooperating with federal authorities, the focus of the second investigation based on a possible murder was on Dusty Nelson, who was located by police investigators at the home of his aunt Theda Nelson Clark in Denver, Colorado and refused to be interviewed, and Melvin Lee Houston, a Pine Ridge business associate of Vernon Bellecourt.

January, 1975:
FBI “Operative” Doug Durham is allegedly busy accusing people of being FBI informants according to Vernon Bellecourt, though it is clear from the interview record that it is Vernon Bellecourt who is making the accusations. AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Herb Powless confront several people about the accusations at the January 1, 1975 Menominee Warriors Society Novitiate takeover near Greshan, Wisconsin. Confrontations take place with several AIM supporters including Minnie Two Shoes and Iris Thundercloud during this period, who are told about the accusations and turned back from their support activities. Durham at the same time is being accused by some as being an informant. Annie Mae, who is involved in a relationship with Dennis Banks is a suspect as well, in particular by Attorney Ken Tilsen and his wife Rachael (both affiliated with the Communist Party USA) who proposes that Durham and Aquash have been inserted by the FBI to work as a team to get close to Banks.

A plot to kill Durham during the takeover is reportedly planned according to a recorded narrative given to author/writer Serle Chapman by Herb Powless, who indicates that Durham escapes the plot when he leaves Shawano, Wisconsin amongst rumors that he is working for the FBI as an informant. Powless is titled as the Great Lakes/Wisconsin Security and Intelligence Director and says that nobody is accused or judged as being an FBI informant in Wisconsin without his knowledge, including the Durham, Iris Thundercloud and Minnie Two Shoes accusations. The key AIM leadership connection in the questioning of Thundercloud and Two Shoes other than Powless is Theda Nelson Clark of Denver, Colorado.

 

February, 1975:
Jean Day, Melvin Lee Houston, Nilak and Dino Butler, Leonard Peltier and Annie Mae move to Oglala at the invitation of women and elders of the community.

February 28, 1975:
Herb Powless, Mark Powless and Phillip Bautista stop at Jumping Bull Compound and Ted Lames with AIM weaponry. Annie Mae is reportedly living at Ted Lames as part of the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee (WKLDOC), Oglala office.

 

March 1, 1975:
Herb Powless, Mark Powless, Philip Bautista and several others from Oglala are arrested at Hot Springs, S.D. on weapon charges. The arrest follows a police stop for a missing license plate on the van. The bust casts more suspicion on Annie Mae. FBI documents indicate the Powless van has been followed across the country for several days starting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin while it curried guns (In particular several AR-15s) and ammunition to various members of AIM. Herb Powless allegedly fingers Annie Mae as the most probable person responsible for removing the plates while at Lames. (MOTIVE #5)

March 5, 1975:
Doug Durham is confronted by Vern Bellecourt and Attorney Ken Tilsen about being an informer, and during this interview admits to Bellecourt and Tilsen he has been working for the FBI since 1973. The physical evidence and information about Durham being an informer is allegedly provided to Attorney Ken Tilsen several weeks earlier who reveals it to AIM members. Madonna Gilbert Thunder Hawk and Theda Nelson Clark argue later, that it was they, who went to Rachael Tilsen to report their beliefs that Durham was an FBI informer, after not being able to get Dennis Banks to act upon their accusations.

March 12, 1975:
Durham is the highlight of an AIM press conference in which he admits working as an FBI operative to mainstream journalists while Attorney Ken Tilsen stands by his side.

March 25, 1975: (MOTIVE #6)
Jeannette Bisonnette
is killed by a snipers bullet shot from the AIM encampment of Ted Lame (across the road from Jumping Bull Compound near Oglala). Annie Mae is staying at a house on the homestead at this time. Bisonnette had stopped near, or on the property of Dick Wilson's brother's land (Jim Wilson) to either change a tire, or meet a close friend. This incident leads to the attempt by SA David Price to locate and interview Aquash. Another person wanted for questioning in this incident was Melvin Lee Houston. According to individuals formerly affiliated with AIM and familiar with the incident, the bullet fired at Bisonnette was not intended to kill another member of AIM and may have been an attempt to intimidate what AIM members believed was an associate of Dick Wilson's brother. Numerous shell casings, matching shell casings found at Lame's encampment after the Bisonnette shooting are found at the Jumping Bull Compound after the June 26, 1975 shoot-out between AIM and two FBI agents. At least a couple of people associated with this incident are later on the fringes of the December Aquash kidnapping scenario.

Also allegedly at Ted Lames the day of the shooting are Leonard Peltier, Peltier's girlfriend Jean Day, Dino Butler, Ted Lame and Sam Loudhawk.

April 2, 1975:
Fugitive alert issued for Leonard Peltier in the attempted murder of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin police officer.

 

May 28, 1975:
Attorney Ken Tilsen makes a motion in the Cedar Rapids pre-trial proceedings of Carter Camp, Leonard Crow Dog and Stan Holder, asking for dismissal saying that the AIM defense camp and organization has been infiltrated by several hundred informants. (MOTIVE #7) Tilsen cites as an example, Doug Durham and Harry and Gi Schaffer who have been exposed as government agents by then. Tilsen also comes to believe that most infiltrators into the Movement are being brought into AIM as pairs, therefore, Annie Mae Aquash and Doug Durham, both who were closest to Dennis Banks were working as a team.

 

June 2, 1975:
Trial of Camp, Holder and Crow Dog begins.

June 5, 1975:
Carter Camp, Stan Holder and Leonard Crow Dog are found guilty for the 1973, Wounded Knee Postal workers confinement case.

June 8, 1975:
Russell Means is shot.

June, 1975:
Dennis Banks and wife Ka-Mook (Nichols) move to Jumping Bull Compound land.

 

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Dennis J. Banks

June 6-18, 1975: (MOTIVE #8)
Annie Mae's intimate relationship with Dennis Banks is revealed to Ka-Mook around the time of the Farmington, New Mexico AIM National Convention. Annie Mae is questioned by Leonard Peltier according to Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, Mark and Mickie Aquash and Iris Thundercloud as a possible informant at a nearby Mesa. Bob Robideau in the CBC special program claims that the questioning of Annie Mae is done at the order of Vernon Bellecourt, but Bellecourt over the years denies he ordered her interrogation. Peltier has denied that he even questioned Aquash despite numerous on-the-record statements by individuals that he did.

NFIC has confirmed from other sources that Annie Mae is taken to a mesa and questioned by Peltier, allegedly at gunpoint. Several AIM members witness a heated discussion between Dennis Banks and Vernon Bellecourt regarding the actions taken at Farmington against Annie Mae. KaMook Banks says in a Nov. 2000, CBC - Fifth Estate program that she learned of Annie Mae's interrogation the day after she learned of Dennis' intimate relationship with Annie Mae.

June 19 or 20, 1975:
Bob Robideau, Dino and Nilak Butler, Leonard Peltier, Annie Mae and others arrive back at Jumping Bull compound, back from Farmington conference. A group of women identified as the Pie Patrol are hostile to Annie Mae's presence at Pine Ridge at least in part because of her relationship with Dennis Banks, because she is a Canadian and Micmac and because she is affiliated with what is called west coast AIM and not Dakota AIM. Additionally, as the news of her interrogation at the hands of Leonard Peltier in Farmington made their rounds, more questions about her being a possible informant were raised by members of AIM.

Some members of the Pie Patrol are identified to NFIC as Madonna Gilbert (Thunderhawk), Thelma Rios-Conroy, Theda Nelson-Clark, Minnie Two Shoes, and Lorelie DeCora Means. Gilbert is a cousin/sister to Russell, Bill and Ted Means and Lorelie is then married to Ted Means.

John Boy Patton Graham indicates to interviewers that he was preparing after the Farmington AIM convention to move to the Jumping Bull Compound Tent City to be more closely involved with the Northwest AIM group staying there -- Leonard Peltier, Dino Butler and Robert Robideau.

June 23-26, 1975:
Annie Mae goes to Cedar Rapids with Jean Day, Theda Nelson Clark and John Boy Patton Graham for pre-sentencing work for Carter Camp, Stan Holder and leonard Crow Dog.