Former AIM activist reveals allegations
in Anna Mae Aquash's murder

What follows are excerpted portions of videotape 2 (of 4 total) of an interview with Richard Two Elk, conducted June 16, 2000 at the Native American Journalists Association conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tape 1 was excerpted in the July14 edition of Press/ON.

Interviewers included: Paul DeMain, News From Indian Country, Richard LaCourse, Yakama Nation Review, Matt Kelly, Associated Press, Marley Shebala, Navajo Times, Minnie Two Shoes, Native American Journalists Association, Tony Brown, Brown Eyes Production, David Miller, Menominee Nation Communications, Lori Townsend, Native Voice Communications, Sheila Tousey, Cloud Productions, Brian Wright-McLeod, Renegade Radio.

Transcripts of the videotaped interviews were provided to Press/ON by DeMain, and excerpted by Press/ON editor Julie Shortridge.

Richard Two Elk - [Anna Mae] never suspected that the American Indian Movement was going to be involved directly until probably about a month after she got arrested in November, then she knew it was coming down, and it had nothing to do with the FBI.....

Paul DeMain - The first time she was arrested was in September at Crow Dog's?

Richard Two Elk - Crow Dog's, right. It wasn't until after she got arrested in Ontario and she was being extradited to South Dakota that she knew that it was basically closing in. She had acquired that sense by that time, but by then it was too late because she knew there were Indian people involved, but what she didn't know was that the two people that she had accepted into confidence, John Boy and Arlo were the ones who were supposed to do that. And she didn't know. She trusted them. She thought that they were helping her deal with the other AIM guys, and that they were going to back her because they were foot soldiers, she had no idea that they were the foot soldiers who were marked to take her out.

Paul DeMain - And that all occurred after the Marlon Brando motor home bust.

Richard Two Elk - Right.

Paul DeMain - I've been told before that basically that she was placed in the motor home to be watched by Leonard Peltier and Dennis. Is it your understanding of why she was traveling with, and Kamook was along, with a whole crew at that time, Kenny Loud Hawk, Russ Redner.

Richard Two Elk - Out of everybody who had inside information on who killed the FBI agents, cause that was the priority at the time, to secure those who were involved in that shooting and to get them out and get them clear. So because of her involvement and her, the suspicions surrounding her, a lot of people think of that run as like, she was hanging out with Dennis Banks, part of that click and she was a part of the inner circle, when in actuality the word among the foot soldiers was that she and other people needed to be watched real closely. That they couldn't be just allowed to leave and go anywhere and do whatever they wanted to do, somebody needed to be with them at all times. So the whole purpose of having her go with them when they fled was so that they could control access to who knew where Banks and Peltier and Loud Hawk and Redner were. O.K? So she ended up on that run, more because they wanted to know what she was doing more than anything else. So yes, that's my knowledge of that time frame is correct in what you have heard.

Richard LaCourse - After the Brando van was stopped in Ontario Oregon, and the various things that happened there, the flight of Leonard and Dennis and so forth and then the capture of the people. After Anna Mae and the other people were in the Portland law enforcement offices, they learned, and I think this is not repeated anywhere in the flow of AIM history, the next morning before the magistrate, I think it was a magistrate, the narrative of the prosecuting attorney identified informers A and B which were monitoring the movement of the people which really escalated, well it provided them the certainty that intelligence work about the movement of these people on this route, really was going on. Do you know any, are you aware, of now, who those informants, A and B might be?

Richard Two Elk - Not directly, I know that Anna Mae was considered to be one of them, but I don't know who the other one might be.

Richard La Course - But she was considered a possible one of those two?

Richard Two Elk - She was considered to be one of those two people. That was the whole problem, was that they were trying to figure out how they knew where they were to stop the motor home, O.K.? I think it was the epitome of paranoia quite frankly, they were identified as being on that roadway through law enforcement observation and surveillance looking for a particular vehicle within these areas. So the record will show that the motor home was spotted on the highway. The officer then made calls to verify the identification of the motor home. After they verified that that was the one that they wanted, then they started setting up, an operational enclosure. And that operational enclosure spanned about a 60 mile perimeter, not only right there on the highway where the motor home was stopped, but down the road forward and down the road backward, as well as any access points East and West. So, it was pretty interesting because they were snatched just because of coincidence that they were spotted. But in their mind, at the time, they were extremely paranoid that someone was informing on them, because in their mind there was no coincidence about it. Unfortunately, that did tie in with informant activity at the time, so you have to dissect all the particulars on the case to be able to grasp that, because what happens is AIM takes a set of conditions or circumstances and they present it in a particular way that reinforces their story line, O.K.? But it's not actually like that. A large part of what they've been putting out on this case, from the get go, has been manufactured. That's significant, it's significant in that they've had legal counsel to facilitate their doing that, O.K., so it isn't just a couple of guys trying to contain something. They've got lawyers, Wounded Knee legal defense/offense committee lawyers who were providing them very specific legal reference to evidenciary considerations and things of that nature.

Richard LaCourse - Could you name those lawyers who were doing that?

Richard Two Elk - Well, I know for a fact that Bruce Ellison is very centrally involved in the whole process. I've had dealings with Bruce Ellison myself, Mark Lane is another person who was critically involved at the time, I've had dealings with his son in reference to my own involvement. I went up to the Black Hills Alliance gathering as a journalist when they had that in Rapid City and I documented speeches, music, I went out on the walk, I did participated in workshops, I did a lot of interviews and I took it back to Boulder to KGNU and I started working that material up. I was then contacted by Mark Lane's son, I forget his name now, and Bruce Ellison and they wanted the tapes that I had recorded. I told them that I recorded these tapes and I can make copies of them for you and they wanted the originals, they didn't want copies of the originals, they wanted the originals, and they wanted me to not do anything with these tapes. I basically just told them to go jump in the lake and kept on going and they didn't do anything else about that. So, I know at the time, Bruce Ellison was right on the ground there and they were trying hard to contain everything in reference to the Wounded Knee trials and evidence was a critical factor with Ellison because he has very specific and direct knowledge of how the law works. He was there on the ground from the get go, doing damage control.

Minnie Two Shoes - If I may, on this particular question, I've always heard stories about legal advice that was given to AIM people about having suspected informants participate in acts, illegal acts, because if they were informants, they would not be able to testify and that it would basically they could use, like a trap into that idea that these people because they were involved they couldn't testify against these people or that in a case against these people, it would be thrown out because these people were informants. I'm just wondering if you know of this kind of thing happening, with these people who were involved in the legal system.

Richard Two Elk - Well, there have been, that I know if, in a sense of trying to contain the flow of information, the knowledge of FBI operatives and informants at the time, they would try to get us involved in things that would get us charged. O.K? and the strategy of tangling them up, if you will, and if we were going to do something, you would pass the critical aspect of whatever it was that was going down to the person you suspected, not only to tangle them up if they were a fed, but to rule out if they weren't. Because if they weren't a fed, then they wouldn't be afraid or they wouldn't have the audacity, if you will, to take particular actions, so it was kind of a challenge activity that people within the movement did to test others that they didn't know of they weren't sure of, so again it was part of the process, again it had more to do with our ability to cope as foot soldiers and come up with ways of doing things, it had more to do with that than any directives from leadership on how to deal with things, O.K.?

Brian Wright McLeod - Do you suspect anybody now in the leadership of being an operative for the FBI?

Richard Two Elk - Well, I've always had, over the years, I've always had suspicions about certain leadership, primarily because of the way they handled things when it got real hot, and I have to question myself, knowing the nature of the handshake that the government does with movements that are considered to be threatening, not only that, but the record demonstrates, one particular individual that has gone on probably more than anyone else, and I would say, profited or gained more than any of the other leadership.

Brian Wright McLeod - Who would that be?

Richard Two Elk - Vernon Bellecourt. There was a lot of questions about Vernon Bellecourt during the occupation of Wounded Knee, because when they came out and they said everybody needs to go in, and everybody needs to be very directly involved with this, he has some very specific and active efforts to avoid that. We started asking which, you know, who you gonna ride with or how you gonna do this and he's like, 'well you know, brothers I gotta go do this and I gotta stay out here because if nobody is out herethen...' like that, so, he didn't go in, he never went in and he never took any direct action in that, a lot of the foot soldiers didn't feel was good strategy, O.K. He was instrumental in receiving the sixty thousand dollars at the conclusion of the Trail of Broken Treaties and handing out that sixty thousand dollars, and the twenty point questions, the twenty point issues that we went to Washington with just kind of vaporized to the tune of sixty thousand dollars. He says, in his response to me during a recorded interview, that that money was given out to people to get back to where they came from and he says very specifically in that recorded interview, 'well, maybe some people got money twice, I don't know', and so his involvement and his role with money has always led me from the time that I broke from him, to suspect, that he might not be completely above board and that was part of my not being willing to back him anymore, O.K. and that was about the time that my brother was getting heat and I went to Bellecourt and I asked him for help and he just basically said, well, keep in touch. So of anybody today, I would have to say that I really have to wonder about Vernon Bellecourt.

Brian Wright McLeod - Where did that sixty thousand dollars come from?

Richard Two Elk - I think it was from.........

Richard LaCourse - It was from the federal office of Economic Opportunity and it was appropriated to provide money to get out of Washington, it was federal money, it was a command performance at the White House to provide the funds to get the crowd out of town, really this is straight exactly what happened.

Minnie Two Shoes- May I interject here. I was working for the National office at the time, what Vernon said was very true, we gave people money, they went out and drank and partied, showed up back at the door, we bought a plane ticket for one guy twice, it was sixty six thousand dollars, Robert Free was the guy that we sent out to get change, there were people in the end who were stranded, there were several large caravans that left, 6 and 7 and 8 cars and rather than giving people, they just gave them a thousand dollars, so I can basically give, I was standing at the suitcase when they were handing it out. I also know that there was some left, as to what happened to that, I don't know.

Paul DeMain - I had two questions, one was whether or not you could confirm that members of the crusade for justice were involved in events that happened at the Emerson Street AIM house and the subsequent questioning of Anna Mae in Denver.

Richard Two Elk - I couldn't say for certain about at the AIM house, some, several names of people who were actively involved in the Crusade for Justice have come up in conversations that I've had with people as having been there or having been involved and having direct and specific knowledge about Anna Mae's questioning. One of those names that I can put forward was Ernesto Veho, and Ernesto Veho was the right hand man of Corky Gonzales. Ernesto Veho, also got involved and married eventually Jessica Bordeaux. Her father Jess Bordeaux was one of the most active members in Denver AIM, in the movement at the time, so between that association and affiliation with AIM and the Indian movement, I know that Ernesto Veho was there and present at a lot of these things that were happening in the period, whether he was directly involved in the interrogative process, I couldn't say, I never witnessed my self his involvement in that process, but I know that he was a part of the inner circle of people in Denver AIM in that period and so there's no doubt in my mind that he had direct knowledge of events that were pertaining to Anna Mae Aquash, and so, I've had several questions and inquires about his involvement and the nature of his involvement at the time, and so that would be the key person I would say from the Crusade who was involved with AIM, that had something to do with this case.

Minnie Two Shoes - In your previous list of AIM leaders that you indicate were involved in this, you mentioned John Trudell, which has always been according to some of the sources that we've been dealing with, basically found out about some of the effects as they happened in an after hand kind of fashion.

Paul DeMain - My understanding is that John Trudell was at some point called by Anna Mae....

Richard Two Elk - Right.

Paul DeMain - That Anna Mae was allowed access to John Trudell to have a discussion with him during, while she was in captivity.

Richard Two Elk - Yep. They, the best way I can describe John Trudell's involvement in the case of Anna Mae is liaise faire, and I say that because I hold him personally and directly responsible for not acting in his capacity as National Director of the American Indian Movement at the time to stop what was going on. I don't know that he had any role in the call, he had knowledge of it, but I know for a fact that he had conversations with Arlo, post the investigation. I know for a fact that Arlo went to the Western Slope on several occasions with Troy Lynn to meet with John Trudell, where John Trudell questioned him about his posture on the Anna Mae case, and that was prior to his being taken into custody and it was prior to his giving a statement to the FBI. I also was present when Vernon Bellecourt came to Denver in 1982, 83, and the primary purpose of Vernon Bellecourt coming to Denver in that time window was to talk to Arlo, to ask him about the Anna Mae case in confidence. When he came to town he called for Arlo. I was with Arlo at the time. We got word that Vernon wanted to see us. When we got there, it was at the Holiday Inn in Denver, and Vernon talked to Arlo about who he had talked to, how much he knew and if he was going to still hold strong in being secure. They finished that conversation and I pulled put my tape recorder and said, hey, Vernon, I want to do this interview with you. And I sat down and conducted that interview that I have down on tape. That's as close as I can come to validate my knowledge of Vernon's involvement with Arlo on this case. So I know John had knowledge of it and I know John pulled Arlo in, not only once but on several occasions over the years and what they've always wanted to know from Arlo is who did he tell what to, so when they discovered that he had shared information with me, they became incredibly concerned and that precipitated Skenendore's visit to my house.

Paul DeMain - Question about whether or not when Anna Mae was transported to Rapid City, I've been told several times that the WKLDOC headquarters, where she was brought on or around December 11th or 12, 1975, that Bruce Ellison, LaDonna Gilbert, Lorelie Decora, Clyde Bellecourt, and Ted Means were all in and out of the WKLDOC offices that day. Has Arlo ever confirmed to you that those people were involved in Anna Mae's questioning as well? And I was told that Bruce Ellison pulled out some kind of a document and said, here is why we believe we have evidence that you are an informant. Has Arlo ever discussed that document or the questioning that occurred in Rapid City.

Richard Two Elk - One of the things that he explained to me about that interrogation and it was in fact an interrogation, and the whole role that he and John Boy played in that interrogation was that they led Anna Mae to believe that they were on her side, so what they said is that they needed to bring her in to answer to these charges and that they would back her and they would stand beside her in the face of these other people. And so, he was present at that interrogation, he didn't name any of the individuals that were at the interrogation but he pointed out that that interrogation did take place and that he and John Boy were there to convince Anna Mae that they were on her side and they were going to stand with her against AIM leadership and for her not to worry, that the purpose of their being there was to convince Anna Mae that they were on her side and that they were going to back her and that with them being there, these AIM leaders and others weren't going to do anything to her, because they were goingto stop it. So from that point of view, she was led to believe in that period that they were helping her, or there to protect her.

Paul DeMain - Was Anna Mae during that period that she was in custody with Arlo and John boy, to your knowledge was Anna Mae ever transported to Minneapolis St. Paul area at any point in time that she was in custody before she was killed?

Richard Two Elk - Not that I know of, my sense of it from Arlo was that they went from Denver to South Dakota to Rapid City, they left Rapid City and they went out on the reservation and then they came, they went out on the reservation to Rosebud and then they came back to Pine Ridge, and what had happened was that, the way he explained it to me was they went to that interrogation, they got her out of there, out to the reservation...

Paul DeMain - In Rapid City, or at Thelma Rios's home?

Richard Two Elk - It was a trailer house. O.K., so that would be Thelma Rios. So they left and they went, they were, they didn't know, their whole thing was that they were getting ready to set the hit, O.K. but what they told her was that they didn't know where they were going to go next, so they essentially just drove, under the auspices that they were trying to figure out which way to go and what to do, when in actuality they were looking for a place to complete the rest of it. That's how they arrived out there by Wamblee along side the road, so I don't know, he never mentioned to me any discussion of them having gone to Minneapolis anywhere within that time frame.

Richard LaCourse - I'd like to open with a question here. I think it's either April or March of 1975 in which the informer status of Doug Durham is made public and there's a day or two of internal work and then the surfacing of it all, and shortly after that, maybe the very next issue of Akwesasnee Notes, Vernon states, maybe to the news crew of Akwesasnee Notes, it was primarily his secret work that smoked out the FBI work of Doug Durham and also in that short period he also names Bernie Morning Gun who is a young Indian guy who goes public and talks about how he was boxed into it and lured into it and how the money was set and then what kind of goods he had to deliver back to the FBI. Did you find Vernon's role as purger there, accurate, or did you have a way to measure that from a distance, the Denver perspective?

Richard Two Elk - Well my sense of it was that, he, Vernon had this program going where he was constantly worried about infiltrators and he was constantly trying to identify who could be suspect, because at the time he had received a lot of threats and I think it was either his car or his brother's car that had already been fire bombed. So his whole orientation was to contain or control the potential or the opportunity for any infiltrators. The thing that happened with him that I found kind of interesting is that he was the only one, who bothered to come forward and publicly call for, the surrender and exposure of any and all FBI operatives and informants. Now, at the time, it made me wonder, and at the time it made me distance myself from him, because at the time nobody else was doing that, at the time, nobody else had an inside line as to who might be a fed or not be a fed. Everybody else was trying to guess and figure based on tactics and behaviors and all kind of things like that, if somebody wouldn't go to ceremonies or somebody wouldn't do certain things, then you'd kind of wonder about them, but he was more than just that. I wondered at the time if it wasn't a kind of orchestration process where if he didn't or somebody didn't it was kind of going to blow up on them anyway, so it was kind of a pressure release valve type situation that he had to pull at the time otherwise it was going to spill all o ver them.

Richard LaCourse - O.K., just one other part of this. At that time, printed very clearly in Akwesasnee Notes, he offers basically a non retaliation amnesty to any gal or guy that will self identify himself or herself in that position, did any body come forward? None? Gee, I'm not surprised!

Richard Two Elk - That was the funniest thing. He does this whole big press process and he got Morning Gun. There was Blue Dove earlier out of California. He was able to identify a lot of people, but a lot of them had already been identified or they came out themselves and so it appeared to me and that was a large part of my suspicion at the time was that it was a showboat, grand scam, smoke screen, just from a foot soldiers' point of view at the time and I began to really suspect who he was and what he was doing, and I have to admit that it had to do with the fact that he didn't come into Wounded Knee, and I'd been with him in a lot of places and we'd faced off with a lot of different people and I always felt that he'd go up against anybody, but then when I saw that he wasn't willing to go up against anybody or anything then I didn't want anything more to do with him anymore because he didn't have what I felt a leader should have, so I wasn't willing to back him or take those positions, then when he started doing all that stuff, FBI informants and he had moved out of Denver at the time and he had already moved back to Minneapolis and being more removed from me then, I began to wonder what the heck he was doing, O.K., I've always sat there and analytically tried to break that down, cross reference time frames with different individuals and things of that nature. The most significant thing about the whole process is that what we saw was maybe 4 or 5 or a handful of FBI infiltrators and informants that were exposed and caught. What we didn't see were the 4 or 5 fistfuls of FBI operatives and informants that not only operated with total freedom, but continue to operate within the American Indian Movement.

Richard LaCourse - You're saying continue at present?

Richard Two Elk - Oh yeah, at present. That's the most important thing to understand, that we live in a nation and in a time where you'd have to be a fool to think that they don't have that capacity, O.K., they have that capacity, it's a very well evolved capacity and the whole point if you understand the nature and the strategy of the containment program of the FBI, the whole point is to bring the propensity for violence under control. So they constantly rotate and shift and it's even easier now because the bulk of the American Indian Movement is comprised not of Indian people but of non Indian supporters, and non Indian supporters are much more susceptible and much more opportunistic in that regard.

Paul DeMain - It could be as simple as someone just checking in once in a while or as elaborate as saying we want someone to dog the movement and...

Richard Two Elk - To go all the way in.

Richard LaCourse - Again, I'd like to roll the calender back to you said, either 82 or 83 when you are already doing the radio shows in Boulder and then Vernon is back in Denver and he grills Arlo about what he is saying to anybody, what it means and the scope of all that and then it interests me that he is still willing to talk to you on tape. Can you point to a time after that when his trust in you disappeared?

Richard Two Elk - Well, I don't know if he ever had any trust in me.

Richard LaCourse - But you said you were his driver and his body guard, and so he depended on you critically......

Richard Two Elk - To a degree, to a degree.

Richard LaCourse - But not completely?

Richard Two Elk - Not completely. I don't think he ever completely trusted me and the point that I began to try and figure it out was that, well if you hear the interview, you can detect the uncertainty and the apprehension, and, he wanted to know where I was going to go. I had a tape, I had a microphone, I had inside knowledge and I'm sitting there, and, he's scared as hell, about what questions I'm going to ask, see. So I did a comprehensive analysis of the history of AIM and some of the things that were going on at the time and I didn't deal with the Anna Mae case because, we were, there was no need at the time, O.K., I determined and as soon as I started goinginto journalism in 1978, I had determined from the get go that I was not going to be an AIM mouthpiece. I had determined that AIM and what they had to say was not going to be put on my radio program unless it had a valid purpose. I refused to do treatment on the Yellow Thunder camp, I refused to allow Bellecourt, Means, or Banks to come in and use my radio program live to express their opinions. Any interviews that I did with any AIM people, I did in isolation and I edited if I played them at all, I edited and presented them within the context of a larger statement. So I had very clear sense in my mind of what I was going to do and what I was not going to do, so the purpose of doing an interview with Vernon, I also conducted an interview with John Trudell and the purpose of doing a lot of those interviews was to get background information about where the movement was going, but at the time, he wasn't sure, given our previous meeting, he wasn't sure where I was going to go and if you listen to the interview you can hear him get apprehensive in a number of places, because he's not sure what my next line of questioning is going to be. I didn't prebrief him about what any of our conversation was going to be, I just basically started the recorder and started asking him questions and his responses to the questions on the Trail of Broken Treaties and his hints at suspicions at that point in 1982, where what he was trying to do was lay the groundwork at that time for rationale for Anna Mae's murder. If you asked him now, if he was forced into it, he would probably say that he wasn't certain about her all the way from the Trail. At the time he probably didn't have a clue as to who she was in any regard, but in retrospect he began to wonder. He spent a lot of time trying to figure out, who was who on the Trail of Broken Treaties and he spent time trying to undo them.

Richard LaCourse - One other quick thing, I think I understand from one of Paul's questions that you have the tape saved or the transcript of that particular interview.

Richard Two Elk - I have that interview. I gave Paul a copy of it. It's good audio quality. I did it with a 635A on a good machine and I gave him a copy because what happened when I went public and I started challenging AIM leadership, Vernon Bellecourt denied knowledge of me, he not only denied knowledge of me, but he denied any association with me, that he'd never been any where or done anything with me and who the hell was I. So I immediately photocopied the Akwesasnee Notes page in the summer of 72 issue where he and I are handcuffed together being hauled off to the courthouse. I also started making copies of the interview... I'm making copies of this and I'm going to get it out because he tries, and that's I think typical of his attempt to bulldog everybody in the press and as a journalist and as someone who has been involved in the Indian movement and with AIM in particular and having seen the inside story and having set there and watch those monies come in and be distributed and having myself received significant aspects of some of those monies in different times, I know for a fact what went on on the inside of the American Indian Movement and I'm not afraid to get up today and say, these things did happen. And that's one of the critical elements of it is being able to come out and demonstrate it and for me right now, when I came out and went public and then Vernon tried to deny who I was and having any association with me and then I can come up and produce an interview and produce documentation that we were arrested together and that we spent time in jail together and that we lived together and that I associated closely with him, it further demonstrates how he's done it all along with everything else.

Paul DeMain - At issue is his credibility which I told him after the third interview, three interviews, three different perspectives, he doesn't know John Boy, he doesn't know Arlo but Arlo stayed at his house, who the hell is Richard Two Elk, lackeys, dupes of the FBI trying to set us up,people who were trying to set us up.

Richard Two Elk - Right, and the whole foundation now, if you understand this, the whole foundation of it was, they took Arlo and they used him. They burned him and they threw him away, and he was supposed to remain thrown away, because he's an alcoholic. He wasn't even supposed to be alive today, O.K., they calculated in that he would either be dead or he would be in such an alcoholic stupor that no one would ever believe him or trust him or give him any credibility. That plan went awry when he shared his knowledge with me and when I stepped in, because they knew that I was non-alcoholic, they knew that I had an established reputation as a journalist, they knew that I had an established reputation as a soldier and they knew there was nothing they could do to stop me. So when I came in and started moving this thing forward, they came in and tried to get Arlo to turn on me, and I basically turned on him and said hey, you're with me or you're not on this, because we're going all the way, and he said, 'O.K., well, I'll go with you.'

Richard LaCourse - Maybe ten or fifteen minutes ago you gave a narrative in the car, Rapid City, driving around looking for a place, looking for Wamblee and that is what he told you? And so you're reflecting that movement as he told you?

Richard Two Elk - Right, and I question at times what he told me, I question at times what he told me because, there are a lot of elements of those last days of Anna Mae where he would express, I think essentially he tried to save his ass when he talked to me, I think he tried to present to me the best possible side. He told me that he didn't pull the trigger, O.K., he told me that he gave John Boy after they got out of the vehicle, he handed John Boy the gun and nodded and then John Boy, they were just walking and that's when John Boy pulled it out. She wasn't even aware that it had already evolved to that stage and then she asked to pray but then almost a second after that John Boy pulled the trigger. What I question is the nature of those last minutes because one of the things that he told me and I saw elements of this in Denver, was that John Boy, Troy Lynn got John Boy to associate with Anna Mae in a romantic way and got her to trust him through this relationship and this association. I saw some of that because of the interpersonal relationships that were going on in Denver at the time, but there is a discussion in reference as to whether she was raped or whether she had intercourse with somebody prior to her death. He suggested that it was con sensual intercourse with John Boy. I've heard, all indications say otherwise, and so, I had to take and it took me probably two or three years, after I debriefed him to get to a point in my mind where I was ready to take it to the next stage. And I had to go through a lot of information, I have Akwesasnee Notes dating back to 1969, I have almost every issue of Akwesasnee Notes from the period and I sat down and I read all the articles, I sat down and I researched everything. I knew about my brother, I reviewed everything. I knew about the FBI and the cointel program and the informants and after I went through this process of totally immersing myself in everything I could about it, then I shook off the impact of what he had told me, and I went back to him and I said, O.K, well, we're going to go to the next step now. Because immediately after he had his conversations with me, and they let him out of jail, I went to him and I said, you know what? You're my brother, we grew up, you came into my home, I introduced my children to you, they looked up to you, they loved you, they cared about you, all these years and now what am I going to tell them. I just told him, you stay away from me, don't come to my house, don't approach my family, (voice breaks) don't approach my children and give me some time and I'll figure this out and like I said after two or three years I went back to him and I said O.K., well, this is where we're going to go with this and this is what we're goingto do. I told him what I knew and what I understood and how I figured out and I basically spent a large part of time explaining to him what I've talked to you today about and so I was talking to him and it was kind of interesting because I was talking to him and Bob [Branscombe, a relative of Anna Mae's]was talking to Russell [Means] about going public and taking the next step. I had talked to Arlo about what was coming and within three or four days Russell and Ward [Churchill] called their press conference, and I had no knowledge of that press conference, but they wanted me to bring Arlo to that press conference. Well, I wasn't going to do that, and Arlo wasn't going to do that, but I talked to him about it, I told him about what we were going to do and how it was going to go and I asked him if he wanted to come out and he wasn't ready yet. So, I found it significant that that was Russell's reaction to the pressure of the likelihood that Arlo might come forward and talk, O.K., and the individual that Russell refers to as having talked to is Arlo and he suggests that Arlo says that it was Vernon and Clyde that made the call, but he knew very well that they were all in on it, and maybe Vernon and Clyde made the call but everybody shared in the call, O.K.

Paul DeMain - In that regard, Vernon told us at the NAJA office that he didn't even, he says that he didn't even think that he was in Minneapolis and that if he did make a call to Minneapolis it was because he called Bill Means every day. Means says he didn't think he had a telephone at the time but he says he wasn't even in Minneapolis, he says he thought he was, he would have to check his log book, but he thought he was in California at the time. My understanding is that Dennis Banks is in California having fled the Marlon Brando motor home and Peltier going to Canada, Dennis to California, the suggestion is that Vern's flying to California to get debriefed as to how they got busted and who they thought was the informant.

Richard Two Elk - Exactly.

Paul DeMain - Is there anything else that you can add to that?

Richard Two Elk - Not only that, but the series of communiques that went down immediately after the bust, O.K. Peltier headed to Canada, Banks headed to California. When Peltier got to Canada he linked up with Blackhorse, O.K., they sent word back, they'd got separated, Banks and Peltier. Peltier sent word back, Banks sent word back and all eyes were on Anna Mae. As a result of what went down in Oregon.

Richard LaCourse - Excuse me, when you said, sent word back, where was the word sent and to whom?

Richard Two Elk - I don't really know, the specifics of who got the phone call and how it was routed. But I do know there was a communique that came out of Canada and it originated with Peltier and it basically rubber stamped suspicion of Anna Mae, O.K. and that along with, well just the whole flow of everybody getting up and saying, 'yeah, we don't know.' And that's when the boys basically moved forward.

Richard LaCourse - Do you think the city the phone messages was Rapid City?

Richard Two Elk - I would say more than likely because the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense offices were there and everything was, that was a central hub at the time. Minneapolis was not a central operational area in that period, it was Rapid City. Does that help?

Paul DeMain - The credibility of Russell's, and I guess we've already elaborated on that a little bit, he's saying that, Russell's saying that there's this real direct phone call from Vernon to Clyde at Bill Mean's home. There's other people that are telling me that John Boy and Arlo and Theda were at Bill Mean's that morning, that Arlo was lit up, that John Boy never got out of the car, that it was only Theda and Arlo that came in the house. Is that basically how you understand from talking to Arlo the occurrence that there was some kind of a phone call made there?

Richard Two Elk - Well there was a word, you know, I don't know if it was a phone call, and I wasn't certain whether it was a word that somebody was there and said go ahead with it or they had gotten a phone call. When Means came out and did the discussion on the phone call at the Denver press conference, I was highly suspect of that. The nature of the containment program that AIM runs down is that they'll give you a fish to try to catch and when you catch the fish it vaporizes, O.K., and that's how they control the flow of information, so if they focus every body's point on a phone call and who made the phone call in this communique, then every body's going there and then later on, you pick up something and say well, we know the phone call and then ha, the phone call never existed, then you're standing there holding a blank piece of paper, wondering what the hell happened, right, O.K., so that's significant in the way that they tried to handle the whole situation and the sense that I got from Arlo was that word was given, so I didn't know of a specific phone call that took place and who made the phone call and passed the word, the sense that I had was that it was not a specific person who gave the authorization, but that it was several people who signed off on it, if you will, O.K. because it wasn't, Arlo didn't, the chain of command if you will, within the organization at the time, places Arlo getting directives from Russell, more than from Vernon, Troy Lynn's association with Russell, the Oglala click that existed in Denver at that time and the people who were part of that click....

Paul DeMain - Including Theda?

Richard Two Elk - Including Theda, has more to do with the chain of command and the route of an order, than Bellecourt would play. Bellecourt wasn't in Denver at the time, he wasn't an active, he wasn't someone that we'd really be dealing with at the time, but he could sign off on something. If enough of the different leadership agreed on a given point, then all they'd need to do is hear that and then we could go forward with it, O.K., but the sense that I got from Arlo was that somebody had sent word, but I didn't know that that word was in the form of a phone call. When Means was talking about a phone call at the press conference, I started to suspect it because it had one of those curious, why don't you come chase this one, things about it, O.K. and I didn't really, I didn't feel that's what happened, it wasn't my sense of what happened O.K., I told Bob that as much, it wasn't a phone call, it wasn't a phone call, it wasn't like that, but he wouldn't accept that, he just kept going after the phone call and the conversation, and taking at face value what Means was putting out, but I knew better.

Richard LaCourse - Paul and I have had access to the Wounded Knee papers and through that, we have the FBI reports, the discovery of the body, the securing of the site and then the search for evidence and then the collection of the body, the clothing and that's basically, there's not litter around or bullet fragments or anything there and then in the last year, we got the final reports from the second autopsy, but there's some questions that are floating that we find people in the area that are asserting are true, but they conflict with FBI reports that we have, not necessarily with the autopsy, which is, was she wrapped in a blanket? And then, maybe, physically moved to the edge of the canyon and then dropped in? Do you know anything about that, separate from federal government reports?

Richard Two Elk - The sense that I have is that , they pull over, they got out of the vehicle, and one of the things I'm looking for right now is specific text of, transcript of Arlo's statement, ).O.K. They got out of the vehicle, somebody at first said they had to go to the bathroom, then they got out and they were going to go off the road, they were walking off the road, the three of them, she had a blanket on and that's when Arlo gave the gun to John Boy and nodded at Anna Mae, then he just put the gun beside her and pulled the trigger. She went down, they turned around and ran back to the car, O.K., so, they left her where she fell. I don't think she was dead, I think she was still alive, and in the process of being still alive, she pulled the blanket and tried to go, you know, what the hell do you do at that point, you know?


Former AIM activist reveals allegations
in Anna Mae Aquash's murder
(tape 3)

American Indian Movement