Dear Editor [of News From Indian Country]:
I received a FAXed copy of an article from your paper regarding the death of Anna-Mae Pictou. As Anna-Mae's attorney at the time of her death, I was grateful to previously be sent copies of some of the documents your paper had "uncovered" regarding the investigation of her murder. Although they contained nothing new (and left out much available), it appeared to me that perhaps your paper was pursuing a serious investigation into the murder of this mother of two. However, you never sent me a copy of the story you published. I had to get a copy from a concerned individual by FAX.
When I read the story, I was disappointed to find it sounding more like an FBI press release or National Enquirer piece than hard journalism. I found it surprising and disturbing to see the paper claim a "source" told you I had encouraged the rumor that Anna-Mae was an informant. Had you bothered to ask me, I would have told you that this was not true. I HEREBY DEMAND A RETRACTION of this garbage.
Not only was Anna-Mae my friend, but I was also her attorney. Rather than encourage the FBI-generated idea that she was an informant, a rumor I never believed, since well before her death I have continuously spoken out on her behalf against those who were tempted to believe it. There is no credence to the contention Anna-Mae was an informant. You dishonor her and my name to repeat this lie and publish that I had any part in it.
It is terribly unfortunate that one of the leading and few Indian newspapers is so willing to publish such trash in name of journalism. I demand a retraction and a copy thereof to be sent to me. Perhaps you should examine the "source" of your information and ask why he or she would want to spread such a distortion of reality. I further demand that you identify your "source" in the retraction so the community can see who is currently generating these distortions.
Whoever pulled the trigger and murdered Anna-Mae, it is clear that the FBI was responsible Ð they started the rumor she was an informant, as they did to cause the death of Black Panthers a few years earlier. It is curious why in your fixation with Anna Mae's murder, you, like the government investigators, continue to ignore the similarly motivated government sponsored terrorism on Pine Ridge during this same period involving the murders of over 60 men, women, and children. You do not, by your distorted piece, encourage enlightenment and a commitment from the People of this land that will prevent the United States from again violently crushing the efforts of an indigenous movement to obtain a return of sovereignty, enforcement of treaty rights, and basic human and civil rights.
Next time, check the facts.
P.O. Box 2508
Rapid City, South Dakota 57709
[News From Indian Country] Editor's Note:
Assertions found in the Late January 1997 Aquash chronology were double checked with sources and in many cases crosschecked with other information, both on and off the record. NFIC extended confidentiality to some of these sources as allowed under press law and we continue to stand by those sources.
Since the January 1997 issue was printed, NFIC has had a second, new confirmation about our assertion that Bruce Ellison made comments alleging Annie Mae was an informant in 1975. In addition, we have obtained copies of correspondence from Attorney Bob Riter indicating that he was appointed by the court to represent her during legal hearings in November 1975.