This letter appeared in the Late May, 1991 Edition of News From Indian Country, Rte. 2, Box 2900-A, Hayward, WI 54843.
In a February 12, 1991, Lakota Times editorial, written by editor and owner Tim Giago, entitled "Misguided Advocacy Journalism Twists Facts," a great disservice has been rendered. In the guise of attacking Bob Hulteen's recent editorial in "Sojourners," Giago has mistaken his emotional fervor for reality, and the "facts" which it is composed of. Giago's decades-long vendetta against the American Indian Movement (AIM) and its imprisoned activist Leonard Peltier, has caused him to crusade endlessly in negating any and all rational discourse in regard to the events at Pine Ridge in the '70s. In Giago's attempt to establish the "Lakota Times," and thereby himself as the one true voice of Indian people, truth itself has been discarded.
It is not my normal activity to reply to every outburst against AIM and myself. However, Tim Giago's recent Monologue has caused concern among many Indian people, and they have asked me to write this response. Unfortunately, in Giago's unthinking criticism of Hulteen, AIM and Leonard Peltier, he has overlooked the causes of the "war" at Pine Ridge; he has denied the deaths of hundreds of Indian people at the hands and guns of Dick Wilson, FBI founded and trained goons, the attempted political coup and expropriation of Oglala Lakota lands and resources, and the continuing struggle to bring these facts to the public.
In the '60s and early '70s, the deplorable living conditions and abuse by agencies such as the B.I.A. reached a peak, with the election of Dick Wilson as tribal chairman. AIM, an organization created to fight for Indian rights, was asked to help protect the people of Pine Ridge and environs by the greatly admired and respected Traditional Elders of the Oglala Lakota people. Frank Fools Crow, Traditional Chief, made that request. Frank Fools Crow would be the first and loudest voice raised in objection to Giago's editorial. His memory is alive and he taught many of us how to speak before his passing.
As Giago claims, the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (I.T.S.O.C.H.) was taken to Court in a suit filed by former Governor Janklow. At great cost, the publishers defended the book for years, and Judge Jones, who was himself appointed as Judge by Governor Janklow, found the book violated no principle of fact and dismissed the suit. The book has been reprinted and is now available for purchase. This attempt by Janklow, like those of ex-generals and politicians and FBI, to stifle the truth of their mis-deeds, has, fortunately, failed. But, I.T.S.O.C.H. is only one book. There are a number of books available which point out the deeds of Wilson's G.O.O.N.S., the FBI, BIA, State and federal governments and individuals. Are all of these books, which Giago doesn't mention, false? Or, is it possible, that Tim Giago is mistaken in his emotional stance against AIM and Leonard Peltier?
If, Giago is a lover of "fact" and "objective" journalism, as he claims, perhaps he will take the time to actually read and study the thousands of documents produced by various FBI and government agencies. If that isn't enough, Tim Giago can watch reruns of interviews with judges, ex-G.O.O.N.S. describing their FBI support, victims of G.O.O.N.S. terror and many others present. All of these documents and facts are available for anyone truly interested in facts. These facts have proven overwhelming to Oglala Lakota tribal members, their chairpersons and governments, causing them to pass many resolutions requesting a new trial for me, based on those facts. The same facts have caused over 70 representatives of the US Congress to petition for a new trial in my case.
I.T.S.O.C.H. publishes facts embarrassing to AIM as well. But, neither AIM, nor I, filed suits against the author, Peter Matthiessen, to keep people from reading them. Neither does AIM have over one and one-half million dollars to pay legal fees, as did Janklow and FBI agent David Price. One could wonder how they could afford it. Giago calls me a "convicted murderer" and unfit to serve as an example for Indian children, while he, an honest, hard-working Indian, among others, is disregarded. Tim Giago ran for tribal chairman and was overwhelmingly rejected by the Oglala Lakota people. His response: "I will never run for office again!" Many past chairmen ran for office numerous times, proving their honesty, dedication, sincerity and devotion to the People in the process. Thereby, earning their right to lead. The Oglala Lakota people may not be rich, they may not all be college educated, they may not all own newspapers; but they are the true voice of the People, not the individual - Tim Giago.
The Jumping Bull family was attacked, their home is in the Wounded Knee "area," as I.T.S.O.C.H. states, clearly, and not "at" Wounded Knee, as Tim Giago claims it says. The U.S. Government has stated, on the record: "We don't know who killed the FBI Agents nor what participation Leonard Peltier had in it." These are the facts.
Tim Giago reminds us of his role in establishing 1990 as a "year of reconciliation," and Governor Mickelson's endeavor to continue those efforts. I do not question Governor Mickelson's sincerity in this. I would ask, however, the same question many Lakotas are asking. Governor Mickelson, why don't you show your sincerity by returning the Black Hills with a promise and law stating no more lands will be taken nor sovereign rights of the Oglala Lakota people violated? With this effort, we can assure you, the Oglala Lakota people will give Governor Mickelson's efforts unanimous support.
Tim Giago, you have made an effort to aid reconciliation between Indian and whites. Are you willing to view the truth, examine facts, and listen to the Lakota people, and many others who have taken the time to do so? Would you be willing to declare 1991 as a year of reconciliation between Indian and Indian?