Nov. 2, 2006
'Live From Prairie Lights' Reveals FBI War Against Indian Land Rights
Investigative journalist, Steve Hendricks will read from "The Unquiet Grave," which reveals the war led by the FBI against the American Indian Movement's attempt to claim land and rights, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910.
The reading, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, will originate in a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.
"The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country" takes its title from the death of Anna Mae Aquash, a Canadian Micmac Indian who was found frozen in the Badlands of South Dakota -- or so the FBI said. After a suspicious autopsy and a rushed burial, friends had Aquash exhumed and found a .32-caliber bullet in her skull.
Aquash first traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1968 in support of the American Indian Movement occupation of Wounded Knee. She returned in 1975 to organize security for Lakota traditionalists and AIM supporters, who were in conflict with the reservation police. Clashes there left both an Indian and two FBI agents dead.
Arrested after another confrontation on the Rosebud reservation, Aquash jumped bail in November 1975 and her body was discovered in February 1976. An initial autopsy set the cause of death as exposure, but after the exhumation and a second autopsy the cause was found to be homicide. A 2004 trial resulted in the conviction of a homeless Lakota man, Arlo Looking Cloud, and the indictment of a Canadian, John Graham.
A starred review in Publishers Weekly commented, "Investigative journalist Hendricks significantly updates the story of the American Indian Movement (AIM) to reclaim civil and treaty rights, which has been generally underreported and lacked substantial book-length treatment since Peter Matthiessen's 'In the Spirit of Crazy Horse' (1983).
"Bracketed by the 1976 murder of AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash and the 2004 trial related to it, Hendricks's swift narrative is riddled with judicial travesties, cover-ups, vigilantism, COINTELPRO-style tactics, mounting paranoia and lawlessness on both sides, as activists and ordinary American Indians confront the devastating neglect and outright hostility of government authorities.
"Based on reams of newly released official documents (many the result of the author's own Freedom of Information Act lawsuits) and interviews with many surviving actors and witnesses, the book's committed journalism doesn't leave its sympathies in doubt, while also holding AIM's militants responsible for their actions. Hendricks is careful throughout this harsh, heart-thumping account never to lose sight of the larger context. 'Aquash,' he persuasively reminds us, 'was murdered because the government of the United States waged an officially sanctioned, covert war on the country's foremost movement for Indian rights.'"
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