Editorial: We need to be careful about who we choose as heroes

The following is the opinion of the Native Sun News Editorial Board. All content © Native Sun News.

A Free Leonard Peltier sign. Photo KARPOV THE WRECKED TRAIN via Wikipedia

We should be careful about choosing our heroes
By Native Sun News Editorial Board

There will be a 3-day “Free Leonard Peltier” meeting at Oglala on the Pine Ridge Reservation starting on June 25.

Peltier was convicted in 1977 for the shooting death of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. The murdered agents are often overlooked by the mainstream media, but their names were Ronald A. Williams and Jack R. Coler, both were married men with children.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the death of the agents and the conviction of Peltier. It was reported that one lady member of the American Indian Movement said she was present when Peltier admitted shooting the two FBI agents. He reportedly said, “He was begging for his life but I shot the mother f---r.”

There was also the incident when Peltier allegedly stuck a gun in the mouth of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash in an attempt to force her to say she was an FBI informant. Anna Mae reportedly said, “No, I am not an informant and if you don’t believe me pull the trigger.”

Anna Mae was raped and murdered in 1975, her body dumped alongside of Highway 73, 10 miles from Wanblee. John Graham (also known as John Boy Patton) and Arlo Looking Cloud were eventually convicted for her murder. There are still a lot of questions surrounding the story of Anna Mae.

Before her death activist and AIM member Thelma Rios took a plea bargain and named names of the people she knew to be involved beyond Graham and Looking Cloud. She took that information to her grave, but South Dakota Attorney General Marty J. Jackley has access to her sworn statement and has said that the case is not over as yet.

If anyone reading this editorial wishes to know more about the history surrounding Peltier and Aquash get on a computer and Google Leonard Peltier and Anna Mae Pictou Aquash and you will find a wealth of information that brings many things to light about AIM and those terrible days of the 1970s.

Peltier has been in prison for nearly 40 years. He has never confessed to the murders of the two FBI agents. There have been many organizations local and international that has clamored for him to be freed. The FBI lobby against his release has been strong and it even stopped President Bill Clinton from getting him released.

The controversy stemming from the murder of Anna Mae and the murder of the two FBI agents is ongoing. There are people out there that know the answers to all of this and perhaps someday the truth will come out.

There are many Lakota who feel that proclaiming a “Leonard Peltier Day” is not justified because of the violent circumstances surrounding his life and there are others who ask, “Hasn’t he paid the price after 40 years behind bars.”

Nonetheless, we need to be careful about who we choose to honor as heroes.

(The Editorial Board of Native Sun News can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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