Russ Means holds press conference on Annie Mae's murder Accuses Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt of ordering her Execution
Held Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Denver Federal Building Outdoor Plaza
[Transcript as published on News From Indian Country website]
Ted Roy - Denver AIM - Good afternoon and welcome. And I would just like to make an announcement too, the gentleman behind me is Russell Means, of Colorado AIM and here he is.
Russell Means - Thank you folks, it’s always curious to me, and thank you, it’s always curious to me why the federal authorities have refused to cooperate in the investigation into Anna Mae Aquash’s death, there’s been two federal grand juries and of course Denver police. They all know the names of the perpetrators of the murder, they know the houses that Anna Mae was taken to, they know the house in Denver where she was kidnapped from, they know all the things that, they know more than I do, and yet nothing has come about. So now I want to introduce the man, who has worked with these federal authorities and is going to explain the background and the heartfelt reasons why we’re here and this is Anna Mae’s cousin, ah, Robert Pictou Branscombe.
Robert Branscombe - Thank you Russell, the first thing, let’s get it clear, I have not worked with any federal agencies or any police departments. At this moment or this time, I will share of course, that I have shared a lot of information with the Denver police department, with detective Able Alonzo. Able Alonzo has done an excellent job for our family and our nation. O.K. and I say Micmaw nation and I say United States and Canada. Thus far, he’s probably the only law enforcement officer that I trust on this case. Before and I’m sure most of you know that I gave a press conference with Debbie and Denise, Anna Mae’s daughters and of course Shannon Collins, our director of the Anna foundation and of course, my fiance, but the situation is that we felt, we had heard that the case was going to be transferred from the Denver police department, there was the possibility that the federal government, ah, word out there, rumor, whatever, that the federal government again was gonna take charge of this case. And needless to say folks, we’ve come a long ways in the last four or five years and it’s surely not been all my work, personal work.
We’ve had some ah, Paul DeMain, News From Indian Country for one, Richard LaCroix [LaCourse], Jordon S. Dill and I could go on and on and on. People have taken their time to help us and get to the bottom of this.
What I will share now is names, dates, some of you have already heard em, ah, this came directly from Arlo Looking Cloud, who has immunity, the federal government, approximately four or five years ago, already gave Arlo Looking Cloud immunity. Arlo was invited to be here today, he was advised six days ago to be here, and by, if I have permission, by Richard Two Elk, who happens to be his adopted brother and will be available for anyone who would like to discuss the immunity situation from Arlo and when Arlo was in custody.
So, what I’m saying here is we have two other people, one is John Boy Patton, who lives up in Whitehorse, the Yukon area in Canada, ah, he might as well have immunity. Approximately one month ago, when I went to Canada, my thoughts were to make a citizen’s arrest and guess what I was advised. Until the United States presses charges against him, I probably would have been arrested for kidnapping.
You must remember that I was born in Canada, I am a Micmaw member of the reserve of Nova Scotia, o.k., ah, Theda Nelson Clark is approximately my mother’s age, this case took, it’ll be 25 years, December the 12th of this year.
On the 10th of December, 1975, Anna Mae was kidnapped from Troy Lynn’s house here in Denver, not after she stepped outside, but while she was in that house. Is Troy Lynn here today? O.K., well, maybe Russell can add more to that later. The situation is, that apparently she [Troy Lynn] tried to help or stop the kidnapping, she tried to call the police, she couldn’t do it, they wouldn’t let her. She [Annie Mae] was taken north, she apparently was tied up, wrapped up in a blanket form or cheese cloth, and she was taken to Whydoc [WKLDC, the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee] headquarters in Rapid City.
At that time, she was sent from there, there’s witnesses to this, some people have already made statements to grand juries in regards to this. She was taken to Thelma Rios’ [Hill-Conley] house and then from there over to a house on Rosebud reservation, and I will, that was the morning of the 12th or the evening of the 11th and I’m going to apologize for the name of that house, to this gentleman standing here today, but that is Bill Means’ house.
A phone call was made from Vernon Bellecourt to his brother Clyde. And the situation is, from there Anna Mae was taken out to the ravine, north of Wamblee and shot in the back of the head. She was left in that ditch for approximately two and a half months. At that time, FBI agents, Roger Amolett [Amiotte] found her, she was brought in, her hands were taken off, they could not supposedly identify her body.
On numerous occasions, FBI agents had arrested Anna Mae, they questioned Anna Mae, they knew who she was. Her hands were taken off supposedly sent to Washington D.C., my personal evaluation considering statements made by people who saw pictures of those hands, and people that have saw Anna Mae’s body, basically was set up to scare the living you know what out of them, and that is sad.
There’s reports of people on the Navajo nation, tribal chairman out of the Navajo reservation, that have seen pictures of my cousin’s hands. O.K., Anna Mae was then dug up, not to go too fast on this, W.O. Brown did the pathology, he missed the bullet hole, there was reports of blood dripping on the floor of that medical center at Pine Ridge, O.K., it took a second pathologist with the help of AIM and primarily Mary Ellen Pictou, my great aunt and Anna Mae’s mother..............excuse me............what I’m saying folks, most people don’t know where the Maritimes are, most people don’t know where Nova Scotia is, and a lot of folks never heard of the Micmac Nation, but anyway her and her two other daughters, Mary Pictou and Becky Pictou, they came west to Pine Ridge and of course, attended the funeral, but through their requests with the help of certain factions within AIM, actually had the second autopsy done.
The problems that I have at this stage, I’m gonna say Richard Two Elk, approximately a month and a half ago, even though I’ve known about Richard for almost two years. I didn’t know about, I was here in Denver, I had no where to take Richard, I had no law enforcement person for his witness statement, ah, with Russell on the 17th of July, if you don’t mind, on the 17th of July Russell went to U.S. Marshall Robert, well excuse me, former U.S Marshal Robert Ecoffey, who’s a superintendent of the BIA at Pine Ridge, is trying to be reinstated as a U.S. Marshall, but at that time, Russell made a statement, o.k. in regards to what he knew about this case, he has not had the opportunity to be, to ah, talk to a U.S. attorney.,
I feel that he probably would if he had that opportunity, and ah, folks, what I’m saying is it looks like a major cover up and if it looks that way to me, for a guy that’s actively involved in this case and has been for nine years every continuous day, what does it look like to our family, to our nation in Canada and most folks in Canada were absolutely shocked to hear the way I talked in Parliament in regards to this case.
My nation, my people, stand behind Abe Alonzo, we want him back on this case, we want it finished, if a new officer takes over, guess what, we gotta start and do five years worth of work again? No, we’re not gonna have that and we’re not going to tolerate it.
And that’s about what I had to say folks with exception of Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, I feel that they have some questions to answer for and my advice to them, they were also invited here today, and I don’t want to hear anymore jibber jabber and all due respect, I’m Indian also, and I think racism and mascots and all these things are very important, but we’re talking about a murder case and if this lady had a been white, my cousin, I feel that this case already would have been resolved.
As far as I’m concerned, by March of 1976, Dennis Banks, John Trudell, Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt and yes, LeonardPeltier, were exactly aware of what happened to Anna Mae. And I’ll stand for it and if anybody wants to sue me or whatever, knock themselves out, but that’s where I’ll stand on it and we’re not going to quit and we’re not going to go away.
Thank you all for being here and it means a lot, we will have statements from Anna Mae’s daughters today we also have a copy of a resolution signed by the Assembly of the First Nations, and that will be read by Shannon M. Collins.
The reason I called for this press conference for my participation is to tell the world, about the leadership of the American Indian Movement at that time, was well aware of what happened to Anna Mae, and two of the leaders ordered her death. Vernon Bellecourt made the phone call to the house on Rosebud, which.....[Means gets emotional].............is my brother’s house.....................and Clyde Bellecourt took the call from Vernon and then issued the order for her death, for her murder, in 1974 and 1975. The American Indian Movement, 19 chapters of the American Indian Movement held a tribunal on treasonous activities by the Bellecourt brothers. After one hearing in San Rafael, California and a second hearing in Rapid City, South Dakota, the tribunal, the American Indian Movement tribunal convicted the Bellecourt brothers, and on one of the prominent newspapers of the time, Indian Country Today published out of Rapid City did a headline, AIM bans Bellecourts or words to that effect.
We banned, that’s the severest penalty that we could come up with according to the Indian tradition and we banned the Bellecourt brothers in 1995 from the American Indian Movement. And that’s as far as it went, but in that testimony, in that proof that we collected, we know that Vernon Bellecourt has been at the center of dissension every time there’s been dissension within the American Indian Movement since 1972, in fact that first center of dissension that he caused got his bother Clyde Bellecourt shot.
From that point on Vernon has been at the center of dissension, we’ve proven that fact, and, also in 1974, in 1975, he ordered the interrogation, and if those interrogators were satisfied, and those interrogators were Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau and this is all testified to under sworn testimony, and ah, Dino Butler, interrogated Anna Mae Aquash at the Fairchild plant takeover in New Mexico, the AIM takeover,. [the interrogation took place at the AIM National Convention in Farmington according to NFIC sources].
They were satisfied she was not an informer and exonerated her, but they were told by Vernon that if they were convinced that she was an agent, that they were to kill her. So this is the second time, he ordered her death.
And according to an AIM leadership meeting we had in 1982, we were supposed to in the American Indian Movement, not go to the external press, as you see here and the non-Indian press especially, and not allow them to find out about our dissension, so in 1995 after they were convicted, we did not announce it to the world in the non-Indian news media. We kept to our axiom made in 1982, that we would keep it to ourself. So we banned them.
The feds know the names of the three murderers, that Mr. Branscombe has told you, two grand juries [three] and now an investigation by Denver, nothing.
So we are calling on Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, minority leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and the other senator from South Dakota, Tim Johnson, we are asking them to bring forth a hearing, to investigate the FBI, cause we are convinced the FBI has hired Vernon Bellecourt according to our evidence in our tribunal and according to what I’ve been told by one of the murderers. That it was Vernon Bellecourt who ordered her death.
One of the three that took Anna Mae to her death has told me that it was Vernon Bellecourt and that’s why I’m coming forth, now up until April of this year, I was out of that loop about what went down with Anna Mae and I do not know why, except the fact, they knew I would do something to clear AIM’s name.
And if AIM is the perpetuator of this grisly murder, in collusion with the FBI, then I want it brought out, I want AIM’s name, ya know, people make mistakes, and if AIM made a horrendous mistake, then it should be brought to justice. I am still a member of the American Indian Movement, I will remain a member of the American Indian Movement, but it’s going to be an American Indian Movement, that does not murder its own..........and a woman at that.......that is the most cardinal sin in my heritage......thank you.......any questions?
Where are the suspects you mentioned today?
Robert Branscombe - John Graham, Canada, we’re gonna say he lives in Whitehorse, Yukon right now, he’s being somewhat watched, O.K. The other two are Theda Nelson-Clark, and Arlo Looking Cloud, Theda lives in Crawford, Nebraska, Arlo Looking Cloud, and what I understand is he may be trying to get out of town right now, street person, I could give you some addresses but these people aren’t directly involved and that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Russell - First of all, let me say this, on July 17th, as he mentioned, I told a former federal Marshall now a BIA superintendent, he asked me at the time, he wrote it down, my testimony and he said, would you be willing to testify in court to this and I said of course, as yet I have not been contacted, three and a half months, and no one, no federal agent has contacted me, to me that spells complicity by the FBI and Vernon Bellecourt, they’re protecting him, and themselves, as you heard, there was no reason to have cut off her hands, now I promised that person, one of the three that told me about Vernon, that I would not divulge their name, I’m gonna keep my word.
Few questions from reporters about where the grand juries were held.
Branscombe - Although contradictory to what Leonard has just released a statement that I’m a FBI agent, but trust me folks, I’m not and I’m not affiliated with the CIA or anything like that, but the situation is that Anna Mae was aware who killed those agents, you gotta remember that she traveled with Dennis and Leonard and in November of 75 they were all together up in Ontario, Oregon, the statement of course by Leonard that Anna Mae signed a statement that she didn’t know, that’s clearly possible, but Anna Mae knew.
And I do know that the first part of Anna Mae’s visit here in Denver that Anna Mae was trying to obtain funds, see you all gotta remember that Vernon Bellecourt was in charge of this AIM office back in 1975, Anna Mae went to Vernon requesting funds in regards to Leonard’s defense and of course, they said no and she said, well, if I don’t receive some help here, I will be talking a lot more in regards to activities that these guys were involved in.
(Question from reporter about Leonard and Anna Mae saying Leonard did not kill the agents.)
Branscombe - No, I’m not gonna mention, I got my own personal beliefs on what took place. You gotta remember that there’s an... Allan Webster [Lester] Jones, if anyone has looked at my web pages, there’s an affidavit put on there by a former police officer from the Denver police department. His mother, family lived here in town, he received a phone call one day, the latter part of June, 1975 or the first part of July, but anyway he came to his house and his mother said someone was outside watching it.
Apparently, at that time they were watching a house across the street, where Dusty Nelson’s mother lived, or aunt, excuse me, what I’m gonna share here is, on that affidavit, it’s blacked out, we’re at a stage here, where we want to help everybody we can, we wanna be sure we create an opportunity for a fair trial, even though today we’re using names, but the situation is, this has to come to a head, we all know too much about it, it’s time to start talking about it, but anyway, when Allan Lester Jones found out who these people were, they were FBI agents, they were looking for Dusty Nelson, [John Star Yellowwood] they were not looking for Leonard Peltier, and if they were it was only in regards to questioning, they were also looking for a 44 caliber weapon, and not an AR15, but besides that, I’ve met Leonard on four occasions, he states that he is innocent.
Native America Calling A program of Native American Public Telecommunications
P.O. Box 40164, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196 (505) 277-7999 www.nativetelcom.org
Program Aired Thursday, November 4th, 1999
[Transcript by Southpaw Media with possible editing by News From Indian Country]
Host: Harlan McKosato, Guests: Vernon Bellecourt and Ward Churchill
Harlan - Show intro - gives background on Anna Mae and the case to date.
Plays clip from Russell Means........"In a few minutes we’re going to name..........ordered them to take her out and execute her."
Harlan - Joining us right now from Cleveland, Ohio is Vernon Bellecourt, he is Anishinabe and a national representative for the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council and he along with his brother Clyde have been accused of ordering the execution of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, not once but twice, welcome back to the show, Vernon.....are you there, Vernon?
Vernon - Warm greetings to you, Harlan, and to your listeners out there.
Harlan - Well, of course after we heard the accusations yesterday, Vernon, we felt that we should call you, we did call you, obvious question is, how do you respond to these accusations against you and your brother?
Vernon - Well, first of all, back on September 16th of this year, in Ottawa, Ontario, Robert A. Branscombe, a person claiming to be a distant relative of Anna Mae Aquash family, staged a press conference, during which he recklessly named several individuals, some in the leadership of the American Indian Movement, who he alleges were involved in the death of Anna Mae Aquash 23 years ago on the Oglala Lakota Nation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
A name that was, a person that was charged by Mr. Branscombe [as] being involved, was Russell Means, so it’s very puzzling what happened in three weeks, where now Russell Means would join with Robert Branscombe to make these ridiculous, outrageous and libelous and slanderous statements at a press conference.
Incidentally, everyone should note that it was right down the hall in the federal building in Denver, Colorado right down the hall from the FBI, [the press conference was held outside in the plaza because a permit was denied to have the press conference inside] we were hoping that the news media and others would not be fooled by this reckless grandstanding by Russell Means, Robert Branscombe, and of course waiting in the wings is an individual who is very deceitful and treacherous, who is a white man who first showed up in his book Agents of Repression, stated that he was behind the hill from the Jumping Bull community the day after the gun fight that erupted there and killed two FBI agents and Joe Stuntz, a guy by the name of Ward Churchill who’s a white man, masquerading now as a Cherokee, and of course I understand that he was going to be on the program.
Harlan - Let me point out that Ward [Churchill] is gonna be joining us in just a few minutes.
Vernon - Well, ordinarily, I wouldn’t even join the same program with this individual, because he, in fact is at the center of a program, and it’s not coincidence that they had this press conference yesterday, obviously the FBI must be listening to our phone conversations, because yesterday, and for those of your listeners that have access to the web, they can find us at AIMovement.org, that would be AIM Movement with one ‘M,’ AIMovement.org and they can click onto the Ministry of Information and the Council on Security and Intelligence and, of course, I’m just going to share with you part of this report and people would need to know this to understand the nature of what happened yesterday.
But following a lengthy 25-year investigation of Ward Churchill, Glenn Morris, Russell Means and their other Indian and non Indian co-conspirators, collaborators, dupes and unwitting pawns, the American Indian Movements Grand Governing Council’s, Council on Security and Intelligence is releasing a lengthy report.
We do so, because of the continued attacks by this group of deceitful and treacherous frauds against the legitimate leadership of the American Indian Movement and the international, political and diplomatic core of the International Indian Treaty Council, incidentally, the president, a colleague, a close friend and a brother is William "Bill" Means, the brother of Russell Means, and of course, Mr. Branscombe yesterday divulged that this phone call from Minneapolis by myself to my brother at a home on the Rosebud reservation, was in fact, according to Robert Branscombe, the home of Bill Means, so you began to understand the treacherous nature of the reckless charges that Russell Means made yesterday.
He went on to say, (Harlan interrupts briefly) if I could just conclude this, it’s very important. They perpetuate these attacks by fraudulently representing themselves as being members of the American Indian Movement and so called Confederation of Autonomous AIM chapters, now using their website to sew disruption, division and confusion and the ringleaders, the puppeteers behind Russell Means, are two wannabes, which are white men masquerading as Indians who are very deceitful and treacherous individuals by the name of Ward Churchill and Glenn Morris.
And again I want to emphasize to your listeners to log on to our website, AIMovement.org, they will be able to visit the Council on Security and Intelligence and they will come to the same conclusion that in fact, what happened yesterday down the hall from FBI headquarters, with his puppeteers and handlers Robert Branscombe, who incidentally a year ago went into Leavenworth federal prison to visit Leonard Peltier, in order for anyone to visit Leonard Peltier they have to go through a major beauracracy to get on his list, yet Mr. Branscombe was able to go in and he promised Leonard that they would see that he got out of prison if he signed an affidavit against the three alleged killers of Anna Mae Aquash, incidentally their names and our names have been thrown around for the past 20 years by Ward Churchill, Glenn Morris and his group of co-conspirators including Russell Means.
Harlan - O.k. I have to ask you the question. Were you involved in any way with the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash?
Vernon - Absolutely not. I mean that’s totally outrageous for him to make those wild allegations and I hope that the media would understand that he covered himself by saying that he had heard that from somebody else.
Well, obviously, we believe that the death of Anna Mae Aquash was caused by a program that began in the office of Richard Nixon in 1972 where they had a recruitment drive to recruit extremist agent operatives and informants, Indians and non Indians masquerading as Indians, such as Mr. Churchill and through that infiltration, they in fact sparked the firefight at Jumping Bull that claimed the life of Joe Stuntz our young Indian brother and two FBI agents, Ron Williams and Jack Coler, who were all victimized by their own FBI who botched this job that led to the death of their own agents and of course the result is Leonard Peltier being in prison for now 23 years.
Same people that we list in our report were on the periphery and were actually in the area of the taking of Anna Mae from Colorado and eventually to South Dakota where she was eventually murdered in a execution style killing. As I said, three weeks ago, Branscombe was accusing Mr. Means and yet in three weeks somehow, he got to Russell Means, and Russell and others are the only ones that know what Russell’s involvement was, but as was said by Bill Means when I discussed this with him, he said, it’s really strange that everything they’re accusing us of is what they are responsible and guilty for, and I would hope that people would understand that.
Harlan - Vernon, we want to remind our listeners that we do have Ward Churchill on and we’ll bring him on in a few minutes. Vernon, do you believe that members of the American Indian Movement were involved in the killing of Anna Mae?
Vernon - They were obviously agent operatives and informants who showed up at around the shoot out at Jumping Bull and were able to infiltrate the movement and we know and to quote John Trudell who was also charged at one time by Bob Robideau as having been involved in the killing of Anna Mae, we don’t know who pulled the trigger, but what we do know is that agent informants and operators set into motion a campaign that brought about a reign of terror on the Pine Ridge reservation that led to the shoot out at Jumping Bull and led to the execution style death of Anna Mae Aquash.
Harlan - Show i.d., re-intros Vernon, question to you, after nearly 24 years will anything good come out of this or will it open a whole new set of attacks....
Julian - What can be done to bring about peace within Native Americans.......
Harlan - Wish I had the answer, Vernon, do you think this is going to help solve anything?
Vernon - Well, obviously Russell Means reckless grandstanding yesterday is certainly not going to help the healing process or reconciliation or help the cause of Indian people, or non Indian people, but what you have to understand in visiting our website AIMovement.org is that at the center of over a fifteen year campaign, individuals such as Ward Churchill, Russell Mean’s puppeteer, Glenn Morris and other conspirators, collaborators, dupes and unwitting pawns are at the center of that is an individual that you are now going to bring on the radio who is a white man masquerading as an Indian and of course he’s been booted out of the International Indian Treaty Council by Bill Means, we booted him out of the American Indian Movement when his actions we could see were divisive, disruptive and yet he now along with Russell Means are continuing to try to promote discourse, division by declaring the existence of the federation of autonomous AIM chapters.
So it is these people who have caused this division down through the years. In the meantime, my brother Clyde Bellecourt and I who were accused by Russell Means yesterday of being mobsters.
We would want people to come to Minneapolis and see what we’re doing with alternative schools, training programs, health programs, legal services, we develop training projects, we’re opening one on the Pine Ridge, Oglala Lakota Nation, we’re actively involved and if people would look at our website, they would see the long chronology of involvement that we have had very positively, very constructively to help our people. On the other hand, Ward Churchill and his lackeys, Russell Means, have done nothing other than to line their own pockets with their revisionist writings and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that Mr. Churchill is a literary, and an academic and an Indian fraud, and why I would even have to carry on or why anyone would want to carry on a discussion with this individual is beyond me, but it’s these people that have been at the center of discourse and division.
Harlan - Alright, Vernon Bellecourt, we’ve given you your opportunity to respond to the charges, and right now I’m going to bring Ward Churchill in to the program. Ward is currently a professor of Native American Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he’s also authored several books and exposes on counterintelligence programs, he’s also co-director of Colorado AIM, welcome to the program
Ward - Thank you, good morning.
Harlan - Well, you’re on the air and you’ve heard Vernon’s comments.
Ward - Well, I’ve heard them, one hardly knows where to begin to address the disinformation that’s involved. But Vernon, for starters ought to make up his mind whether I’m a puppeteer who was powerful enough in the American Indian Movement 25 years ago to orchestrate all the things he’s accusing me of, or whether I’m a late comer to the American Indian Movement that no one had ever heard of until the end of the 1980s because he’s said both things at various times.
As to being expelled from his version of the American Indian Movement, I would point out that that is an entity which did not exist before 1993 when he incorporated it, it is a corporation under the laws of the state of Minnesota, it was incorporated on an essentially fraudulent basis, with the national membership meeting site designated annually as being Leonard.....ah, excuse me Vernon’s own living room. So there is sort of a charade being perpetrated here that begins with the fact that Glenn Morris and I neither of whom are supposedly members of the American Indian Movement according to this outfit, at any point resembling 1975 we were expelled from something we were never part of in the first place.
What Vernon calls the so called Confederation of Autonomous AIM chapters, is the American Indian Movement. We are not a corporation, we are not funded as, national American Indian Movement incorporated is, by the federal government or major corporations, we are not a social service program, we are a national liberation movement, that’s what AIM was always supposed to be about.
I’d like to read a little list of names here that I was compiling while Vernon was talking. Some of them will probably be recognizable to your listener ship. John Mohawk, Mike Myers, Tim Coulter, Steve Tullberg, Don Grinde, Joe Locust, Diane Million, Sharon Venne, Regina Brave, Joe Geshick, Bob Robideau, Richard Robideau, Bobby Castillo, Glen Morris, Russell Means, Brooklyn Rivera, Armstrong Wiggins, Dave Hill, Carter Camp, Joey K. Dow(sp?), Bob Rowka, Cliff Alice Currie, I could go on but there’s no need to.
Harlan - Yah, what is the list?
Ward - The list is individuals who over the course of time, Vernon Bellecourt in particular has accused of being an agent, a dupe, a provocateur, a white man masquerading as an Indian, a lackey, in other words, anyone he’s ever had a disagreement with over the course of his involvement with the American Indian Movement has been designated in exactly the fashion that he is designating people now.
Notably, myself, Glenn Morris, Russell Means, Robert Branscombe, who I’d never laid eyes on or spoken with till yesterday. But, since we’re talking about Branscombe, who is in fact a status Indian, a Micmaw, a member of the people of Anna Mae Aquash and a blood relative of Anna Mae Aquash, and that’s documented.
With reference to the September 16th press conference in Ottawa, Russell Means most emphatically was not named, he has never been named in this. That was just a flat out lie.
O.k? In my book, I did not state that I was on the other side of the ridge from the Jumping Bull [Compound], if Vernon could read, he would see that what I stated was that I was at Potato Creek which is some distance away on the Pine Ridge reservation. I had arrived there that day in an International Scout vehicle without a radio, I had no idea what was going on and was surprised by one of the FBI sweep operations, that’s what I recount.
I was on my way to Spearfish, South Dakota to take up a faculty position, I had not resided in South Dakota nor had I been in South Dakota since I was 6-years-old, at the time I arrived at Pine Ridge. That’s simply another flat out, disinformational statement.
Bob Robideau did not accuse John Trudell of having been involved in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, what Bob Robideau indicated in his statements was that John Trudell was aware of the nature of the execution that had been perpetrated, after the fact and that he participated in a cover up, along with Dennis J. Banks. That’s a rather different matter than being a direct participant in a murder.
What Bob Robideau also said, which Vernon managed to omit, was that Anna Mae Aquash was killed because she was bad jacketed, you guys did bring that up in the introduction to the program.
Bad jacketing meaning that she was falsely represented by individuals within the American Indian Movement as being a probable FBI informant.
What Bob Robideau said was that in Farmington, New Mexico, the AIM annual meeting there in 1975, Vernon Bellecourt instructed himself as a member of the Northwest AIM security crew, along with Dino Butler and Leonard Peltier to take Aquash out on a mesa and interrogate her about the possibility of being a federal agent and if they were unsatisfied with her answers to bury her where she stood.
They were in fact satisfied with her answers and took her into their group, for purposes of guaranteeing her personal security. However, shortly there after, the Oglala firefight occurred and Northwest AIM was shattered leaving Aquash unprotected.
That’s [what] Bob Robideau actually said, that is a matter of record from the AIM tribunal convened in San Rafael, California in the spring of 1994, to investigate the activities of the Bellecourt brothers. The results of that tribunal which was continued in Rapid City, South Dakota during the fall of  was that both Bellecourt brothers were permanently banished by a representative tribunal of American Indian Movement members, from ever identifying themselves as members of AIM again.
They were found guilty of treason, collaboration with the federal government of the United States, receipt of funds in order to work against the interests of American Indian people, drug dealing, and various other activities which are not representative of the attitudes and values of AIM. That was published in Indian Country Today, at the time, it is also a matter of record.
The entire tribunal, evidencery body including tapes, audio and video, documents, including statements by the Bellecourt brothers themselves and so on and so on have been deposited by Bob Robideau at the University of New Mexico, at Albuquerque.
They are open for public scrutiny, they can be investigated. What we have here is what is referred to in counterintelligence circles as a pseudo gang, that is a contrivance of the federal government to impersonate a bonifide movement for purposes of disrupting and destroying the movement. It is a matter of procedure, it is an operational technique that has been developed not only in United States, but by counterinsurgency forces in Great Britain and elsewhere.
Harlan - Have to go to a break right now. (gives number and brief history of discussion) We’re talking today about the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Some say she was murdered by the FBI, others think it was members of the American Indian Movement. We have with us as guests today, Vernon Bellecourt and Ward Churchill and gentlemen I want to go to the phone lines now. Patty From Fort Belnap, North Dakota......
Patty - wants to know why we aren’t focusing on Leonard Peltier............
Harlan - Yeah, we will be focusing on Leonard in a few shows, trying to get Leonard on the air.
Patty - Start healing through common ground........
Harlan - Vernon, how do you respond to Patty?
Vernon - Well, I think she’s absolutely right, and listen, we have too many important matters to even sit on this program and discuss this with somebody who is central to the program. The individual that’s on the other line. But the Time/CNN piece obviously was a major breakthrough in focusing on the case of Leonard Peltier, there’s a worldwide cry now for his freedom, including Bishop Desmond Tutu who did an excellent job and you’re right, starting in Washington, on November 1st, there’s a vigil at Lafayette Park, we would urge everyone in the area to come down and join us with their prayers for peace and freedom for Peltier.
I will be in Washington myself, somewhere between the 16th and the 18 and I will be there along with everyone else to put our spirit and our prayers together. I think the most important thing for us to do today is in spite of all the problems that we are confronted with across the country, is to put our attention to the case of Leonard Peltier and free Peltier.
Harlan - Patty, thanks for your call, Joyce from Canton, Ohio.......
Joyce - Doesn’t know what’s going on, wants the names of the three people.....
Harlan - Well, it’s, there were three men that were accused, I don’t know any of these men, perhaps we can get one of our guests to.......
Vernon - Harlan, John Graham lives I believe in Saskatchewan, the young man from Oglala Lakota Nation who’s been in Denver for the last 20 some years, a guy by the name of Arlo Looking Cloud and the third one is a 70-year-old respected grandmother, in fact a relative of Russell Means, which again, the family is very concerned why Russell would repeat these names.
You know, these names have been thrown out for the last 20 years, yet no one has been arrested, no one’s been charged, no one’s been indicted and it is because we are convinced that what happened at the Jumping Bull community and what’s happening to Leonard Peltier and Anna Mae Aquash is in fact a government campaign that created the conditions of violence that led to her death. So obviously in order for the FBI to open this case they may have to give up some of their informants who are still operating today.
Harlan - The three names that were thrown out yesterday by Robert Pictou Branscombe, were Peter Nelson Clark, John Patton, and Arlo Looking Cloud. Joyce, those were the names.
Joyce - Thank you and I hope there will be a way to end the pain and suffering in our communities..
Vernon - Well, if we get all these phony, wannabe Indians out of our community and running education programs that should be run by Indian people. I think that’s the first step. All these literary frauds that take on a phony Indian identity so they can sell books, similar to the other guest that’s on this program. We have these people taking over, it’s a phenomena.
Harlan - Alright, I wanna give Ward a chance to respond to that. Ward are you there?
Ward - Yes, I’m here, that one name where you said, Peter Nelson Clark, it’s Theda Nelson Clark, that’s the grandmother Vernon was referring to, there’s one woman, two men.
Oddly enough, in one connection, I tend to agree with Vernon Bellecourt. And that is what happened to Anna Mae Aquash and what happened to Leonard Peltier are the result of a concerted, FBI Counterintelligence program, and what we called for yesterday was the opening of a grand jury and a congressional investigation into the matter which can only serve to help Leonard Peltier in revealing the nature of that program and Vernon’s also correct, the reason they have not done this to date is because it will reveal FBI operatives and informants, we do believe, along with, at least what national AIM states, that the execution of Anna Mae Aquash came at the order of a federal operative.
I happen to believe that federal operative is Vernon Bellecourt, but I would be very poorly advised on my part to be demanding a congressional investigation into this context to reveal the nature of the illegality of the federal operations there, if I in fact were the federal operative and that’s exactly what I’m demanding. Along with Russell Means, Pictou Branscombe and the other individuals involved in it.
Actually, I’m a very late comer to it. I wasn’t even supposed to participate in the press conference yesterday but was asked to speak to the nature of the FBI counterintelligence programs and in addition to the individuals who were named as being at least presumptively part of the American Indian Movement who were involved. I personally demanded that they bring in FBI agent David Price, FBI agent William Wood and the coroner who falsely listed the cause of death on Aquash’s initial autopsy as exposure rather than a gun shot wound to the head, for interrogation for complicity in the operation resulting in her death, so that’s one aspect of it. We have some apparent agreement on that, but if that were the case, if clearing the air were what national AIM really had in mind, if clearing the air were what the Bellecourt brothers had in mind, they’d be joining us in demanding the convening of the investigation both by congress, and by a federal grand jury and probably by a local grand jury in Colorado as well, and I would solicit them to do so.
We can join hands on that particular issue, let’s clear the air once and for all, let’s get to the circumstances that attend the false conviction and imprisonment of Leonard Peltier, and let’s do it right now, and that’s the way to do it.
The other thing that keeps getting thrown around here has to do with my identity and I’d really like to know, what a presumptive Chippewa, who’s listed in Ojibway News as being a 1/64 degree blood quantum himself has by way of an expert data base to make a determination for the Cherokee people, Keetowah Band of Cherokees, who is and who is not a Cherokee. I am an enrolled member of the Keetowah Band, I am who I have always been, Vernon Bellecourt himself during the 1980s made reference to me being an American Indian in the famous expulsion letter from the International Indian Treaty Council.
I am stated, by Bill Means as being a member in good standing of the American Indian Movement and you don’t get that by being a white man masquerading as an American Indian, this is something that’s been contrived during the 1990s by the Bellecourt brothers as part of a campaign to try to discredit not only myself but a number of other people.
Harlan - I want to go back to the phone. I want to bring in Ken from Bellecourt, North Dakota.
Ken - Talks about Russell Means having a butch haircut, a while back. He saw it on a tape...... Why is he trying to build a bar by the reservation........
Harlan - Ward, do you want to respond to that?
Ward - Well, I would agree with the individual calling that this would be definitely wrong, if it were true. But during the period in question, I’m not sure what the period in question is supposed to be, but Russell Means hasn’t had a butch haircut since he was about 9 years old, and I don’t think that’s the period in question and as to starting a bar anywhere, that’s absolutely absurd. Russell Means has for 20 years has been at the very forefront of opposing alcohol on the reservation or in any point approximate.....
Harlan - Well. Ward - Where this comes from I don’t know.
Harlan - Well, this comes from him and another guy from Nebraska who have applied for a liquor license in the state of Nebraska. They have stated publicly that they want to build a bar or start a liquor store in White Clay, Nebraska, because of all those other liquor stores there and they want to put them out of business, they want to start a non profit and put the profits back into rehab, so......
Ward - Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m astonished with that and it’s the first I’ve heard of it and I was just with Russ yesterday and not a word was said, so you caught me flat footed on that one if it’s true. And I have no idea why he would be engaged in that activity.
Harlan - Well, he’s saying he wants to put the other ones out of business. That’s a whole different topic. Let’s go to John in Whiteriver, Arizona.
John - I think Mr. Means did the press yesterday to get publicity for himself.
Harlan - So you’re in agreement with Vernon? John - Yes, I am.
Harlan - Well, yeah you’re right, because like Vernon said earlier their names have been thrown around for years and also we had Paul DeMain on yesterday from News From Indian Country and they came out with not only one but I believe two reports in which Vernon and Clyde were both, I guess somehow found in connection with this. John how will this help our Indian people?
John - I think it brings more history to our people and the Peltier case.
Harlan - Let’s bring back in Vernon. Vernon, do you wanna make some comments.
Vernon - I’m surprised by Mr. Means behavior, particularly yesterday in addition of course, to accusing my brother, Clyde Bellecourt and I, of setting up the death of Anna Mae Aquash, he accused me and this is Ward Churchill’s line incidentally that I’m a federal agent since 1973, I guess he means I’m an FBI agent, but you know from a man, in real life, that is R-E-A-L condemned Pocahantas and the movie Last of The Mohicans and the book and then when he gets to Hollywood, he gets blinded by the Klege lights and deafened by the sound stage, he now tells us that Pocahantas and Last of the Mohicans are the two greatest films ever made about Indian people. And the role he played in Buffalo Girl, I guess was the name where he played either Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull along with our dear brother, Red Crow Westerman, it was a terrible insult to these two great patriots. So there’s been a whole series of reckless behavior and as I said, his puppeteer standing in the wings right now on this radio show is a very key player in what has no doubt and again I repeat, started in the Nixon White House and continues at this very moment on this program.
Harlan - Let’s go to Lynn in Los Lumus New Mexico......
Lynn - Haven’t made up my mind about how I feel about it. [I was at a] poetry reading of Trudell’s, Robideau stood up and accused him of participating in her murder.
Harlan - Vernon? Vernon - That actually did happen. John Trudell was accused and unfortunately, Bob Robideau, who we all stood behind along with our dear brother Dino Butler, and had them acquitted of being accomplices in the deaths of the two FBI agents at Jumping Bull, now has joined Ward Churchill and company and are part of this 10 or 12 people that staged a phony tribunal, engineered by Mr. Churchill, that supposedly booted my brother Clyde and I out of the American Indian Movement. I mean, how amazing and again what Bill Means said, everything that they are accusing us of, is what they are doing and continuing to do, so you’re right, I’m glad you called in, and again, Mr. Churchill is part of the disinformation campaign that he’s doing right here on this radio show.
Harlan - O.K. Lynn, thanks for your call. I’m going to go to Gloria from Gallup, New Mexico.
Gloria - I’ve been listening, and thoroughly appalled at Russell Means was saying about Anna Mae Aquash. This is a sad day for AIM. I’m Navajo so I think I can speak for a lot of Navajo and I can’t trust anything he does. My personal opinion of him is that he is a high functioning sociopath and that you can’t trust what he says. I’m not clear about their work like I am about the Bellecourt’s work in the communities. It’s a sad day because of lack of responsible leadership in Indian Country. Not just in AIM but throughout Indian country. I personally cannot trust Russell Means as far as I can throw an elephant.
Harlan - Let’s go to Darlene in Anchorage.
Darlene - I was working at the We Will Remember Survival School in Rapid City. I was concerned with what was going on with the children in South Dakota. I’d like to talk about the climate of fear. What the FBI did in Rapid City, they felt free to walk right into the house, not knocking on the door, there were children being killed in Rapid City. We were afraid to drive down to Pine Ridge. The FBI surrounded our caravan when we were going to Lawrence, Kansas. The FBI felt very free to mix in with the Native people there. In Alaska......
Harlan - I’ve got to cut you off and give our guest a few minutes for final comments, and Ward, I’m going to start off with you. One thing we haven’t asked the whole hour, is are these charges, is anybody going to be indicted?
Ward - Well, I can’t say if anybody is going to be indicted or not, they’ve known who the crew was that that actually was on the ground and did the job on Anna Mae for 20 years and presumably if this was an FBI operation, they’ve known who was responsible for it top to bottom since day one. O.k. what we’re trying to do is push it to a situation where there is some resolution to the case after a quarter of a century and in the process of resolving the particular case, clarify the context of FBI counterintelligence operations of vis-a-vis the American Indian Movement and most particularly Leonard Peltier.
Whether we’re gonna be successful in that effort or not, is an open question, there’s been three grand juries to date, and they’ve returned no indictments at all, O.K.? and presumably, that’s because, as Vernon himself said, they’re protecting someone higher up and that was the order giver and that’s who we want to get to.
They’re also protecting their own agents who were complicit and we want to get to them as well and they’re protecting this coroner who came up with a number of spurious autopsy reports on Pine Ridge during those days and we want to get to that finally as well, and a result of that get to a situation where the arguments can be made with respect to Leonard Peltier that gets him out of prison finally.
Harlan - Ward, thank you for joining us, Vernon Bellecourt, you’ve got just a few minutes.
Vernon - Sure, well, first of all, my name is Wabuninini, I’m a member of the Crane Clan of the great Anishinabe Ojibway, AKA Chippewas, enrolled, recognized in my community and throughout the world, wherever I’ve worked as someone that is concerned about the well being of not only our people, but non Indian people as well. I would urge all your listeners to take the time right now to email, phone, fax, write letters to President William Jefferson Clinton and call for executive clemency for Leonard Peltier, I think that’s the greatest thing we can do today.
Certainly through this whole dialogue and discussion, I was thinking about the family of Anna Mae Aquash up in Nova Scotia, who might be hearing this program and to them, if we’ve caused them any distress or further sorrow or bad memories, I personally want to offer my sincerest apology, however, this will never be cleared up and I would urge everyone to visit our website AIMovement.org, look at the chronology of activities that the American Indian Movement has been involved in in the last 30 years and then look and see what Mr. Means and Mr. Churchill have done, other than lining their own pockets with their phony books and bad movies and holding down positions on campuses and he has a whole network of those people and he mentioned some of those people earlier, that hold down similar positions, they ought to allow Indian people to conduct Indian business.
Harlan - We’re out of time Vernon Bellecourt. (Wrap up and promo for the next day)