The family of a slain native-rights activist named a Canadian man yesterday they claim executed her 23 years ago in what they believe was part of a conspiracy involving the FBI and the American Indian Movement.
The body of 30-year-old Anna Mae Aquash was found Feb. 24, 1976, near the South Dakota Indian reserve of Pine Ridge. She had been shot in the back of the head. No one has been charged in the Nova Scotia woman's abduction and murder.
Ms. Aquash's family gathered in Ottawa to make an appeal to the Canadian government for support in pushing for charges to be laid. The family says it believes a Canadian man currently living near Whitehorse, in the Yukon, killed Ms Aquash.
The family claims that FBI informants and other forces within the FBI and AIM were behind Ms. Aquash's murder, stemming from the 1975 shooting deaths of two FBI agents and a native man.
In 1975, FBI agents Jack Coler and Ray Williams went to a farm near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, to investigate a theft report. An altercation ended in the deaths of the agents and a native man, Joe Stuntz, 24.
Leonard Peltier, the AIM security chief who fled to Canada and was later extradited, was charged in the agents' deaths. Peltier, an American, is serving two consecutive life sentences for murder.
The family believes Ms. Aquash was killed because of fears she could expose FBI informants within AIM who also participated in the conviction of Peltier.
The family alleges that three people abducted Ms. Aquash and took her to South Dakota, where she was questioned about being an FBI informant prior to her death. They claim a man who now lives in the Whitehorse area was "the trigger man" and another man living in Denver and a woman living in Nebraska were accomplices.
For legal reasons, the suspects cannot be named.
The RCMP is helping in the investigation, a spokesman for the force said. To suggest that forces within AIM were behind Ms. Aquash's murder is wrong, said Vernon Bellecourt, national representative for AIM."We believe very strongly that the FBI, and other government agencies on the periphery, were using extremist informants to set up what has been characterized as the execution death of Anna Mae Aquash," The FBI dismisses the accusation that it was involved in Ms. Aquash's death.