An eyewitness to Wounded Knee '75 speaks out, at last


Speaking only on condition of anonymity, a Native American man who witnessed events at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975 speaks out. In his words, unedited, he addresses the deaths of the two FBI agents and the murder of Anna Mae Aquash. He chose to step forward only because of information released by the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee regarding the agents' murders for which Peltier is serving two life sentences. Although he has left the area, he has been told there is still a bounty on his head.

"There wasn't no four-hour gun battle. The only thing that happened was the execution-style murder of the two FBIs. He (Peltier) tries to pretend he is some good father figure, but he has a dual personality, the bad comes out constantly, not the good.

When I was there two FBIs that were killed execution style. One of them got on the radio and said, 'Tell them to get on that hill! Help us, they're shooting at us!' Then the radio went dead. When we recovered the bodies later, the shooting was continuously going because they were shooting up the FBI vehicle. There were so many bullet holes in that police vehicle that you couldn't even begin to count. I stopped at 3,000.

They say he was on that hill, there was only one hill in the area and that was what the one FBI was talking about when he said get up on that hill. It wasn't Peltier standing up there, no one was there. On that hill they are talking about is where the FBI was trying to get help to go. That is why they were saying they were trapped.

There was nothing left of them when we got there. One put his hand up and a bullet went through that hand and out through his face to his back and you could see daylight. One was shot in the back and everything was coming out the front and you could see daylight. And they talk about being good people, dominated people. They are the ones who can take a life and try to get out of it. To this day I have no feelings toward them. To take somebody's life and try to get away with it. Life is too good for them to live.

They left family behind, those two FBI agents, young. Nobody says anything about their families or helps them. Nobody can bring them back, all the money in the world. What is the punishment for someone who lies constantly?

When they killed those two innocent guys, that was heard around the world, "My God, what are Indian people doing?"

I think he should die a natural life in prison. If he ever got out, what would prevent him from doing it again? One of his own people testified against him. One of the guys that was in that camp told the story of what he did.

There was never a vehicle like they described. We lined up and checked every vehicle that came through. We never saw it. We searched that camp and we saw only old .22s, shotguns, we never saw any high powered rifles like the ones they used to shoot up that car.

We had to stand and count over 3,000 bullet holes, in the dash, seats, radios - all these things were shot up with a high-powered rifle.

We were across the road, behind a dam, when shots were shot directly at us and they were high-powered rifles. We didn't return the fire back. We were taught to shoot to kill, but to try to preserve a life. But to them a life was nothing, as you can see. Two innocent people tried to arrest and they got killed. Later we swept that area and there were no high-powered weapons. What happened to those weapons? They took them with them when they escaped.

Peltier left with a group of people who ran through a culvert. There was someone there with horses. That is how they went out, toward Slim Buttes, I think. The only people they left behind was women and children, like always, to cover up. He hid behind the women.

I still hear them on that radio saying, "Help us! Help us!" Then the radio went dead. They didn't have a ghost of a chance to help themselves. Then we heard a lot of shooting. They were probably shooting that police car. Peltier deserved what he got.

The people said that life is lost, we have to live here. When AIM left - some of them were not even members of the tribe - there was impact. The people outside the reservation treated them different because of AIM. Those AIM people didn't live there. There was a lot of innocent people have taken the burden for what AIM has done even though they didn't participate in the killing of the FBIs. Even now you can see the people looking around them wondering if it will happen again. Time will tell.

I feel sorry for the people that live there now. Those AIM people move on but they leave an impact. It is just a shame.

The traditional people are most respectful. The elderly spoke against AIM. If the traditional people were being abused and persecuted, it was by AIM. I can honestly say that. For those that believe what they (Peltier Defense Committee) say, wake up and smell the coffee. It won't happen again.

They (AIM) used people for their betterment. Maybe they had something going to begin with, but it turned violent. You live violent, you die a violent death.

They will kill their own kind to keep them quiet. I was also involved in that one too (Anna Mae Aquash). They (the FBI) know who killed her, but they wanted the man above. A detective in Colorado is reopening the case. My God, I mean if AIM can put out the execution of their own people and Anna Mae Aquash was not a narc. I can tell you that. The FBI tried to break her, but they couldn't. She was there to assist and help wherever she was needed at. It didn't have to be in Pine Ridge, she just participated and helped, she was never a narc like AIM branded her to be.

If they wanted an example they should have made an example out of Peltier. They should have executed him. Any place else they would have. Nobody has a personal vendetta against him.

They (those supporting Peltier) better stop and realize that it could happen to their family. Who would they run to? The FBI? Those guys have been investigating crime on the reservation for years and years. No law enforcement holds a grudge, but they don't want to see Peltier paroled. They should have made him an example by executing him. They would have done it to somebody else.

This rehabilitation (Peltier's) isn't going to work. It didn't work on the outside, what makes them think it will work? Think about what they have done. How many people have they hurt and then moved on. They have scarred a lot of tribes and then just moved on. Even their own tribes don't want them. You don't listen to lies or you will get yourself in trouble.

The FBI was only there to investigate the killings. They left afterwards. They didn't persecute the people. Those FBIs that were shot were only there to serve a warrant, on hundred-dollar boots. They did not terrorize the people. All they did was investigate the murders and escorted the bodies out. Somebody needs to speak the truth. It is time to move on now and let the past go.