Anna Mae Aquash : biography
Annie Mae Aquash (Mi'kmaq name Naguset Eask) (March 27, 1945 – mid-December 1975) was a Mi'kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, Canada, who became a member of the American Indian Movement, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, United States during the mid-1970s.
Aquash participated in the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties and occupation of the Department of Interior headquarters in Washington, DC; the Wounded Knee Incident in 1973; and armed occupations in Canada and Wisconsin in following years. On February 24, 1976, her body was found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; she was initially determined to have died from exposure but was found to have been executed by gunshot. Aquash was thirty years old at the time of her death.
After decades of investigation and the hearing of testimony by three federal grand juries, in March 2003, Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham (also known as John Boy Patton) were indicted for the murder of Aquash. Looking Cloud was convicted in 2004 and Graham in 2010; both received life sentences. Thelma Rios was indicted along with Graham, but she pled guilty to charges as an accessory to the kidnapping. In 2008 Vine Richard "Dick" Marshall was charged with aiding the murder, but was acquitted of providing the gun.
- Johanna Brand, The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash, Lorimer; 2nd edition (January 1, 1993). ISBN 1-55028-422-3.
- Steve Hendricks, The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006. ISBN 1-56025-735-0
People come forward
On 3 November 1999, Robert Pictou-Branscombe, a maternal cousin of Aquash from Canada, and Russell Means, associated with the Denver-based AIM movement, held a press conference in Denver at the Federal Building to discuss the slow progress of the investigation into Aquash's murder. It had been under investigation both by the FBI and the BIA.
Earlier that day in a telephone interview with journalists Paul DeMain and Harlan McKosato prior to the press conference, journalist Minnie Two Shoes had said, speaking of the importance of Aquash,"Part of why she was so important is because she was very symbolic. She was a hard working woman. She dedicated her life to the movement, to righting all the injustices that she could, and to pick somebody out and launch their little cointelpro program on her, to bad jacket her to the point where she ends up dead - whoever did it - let’s look at what the reasons are. You know, she was killed and lets look at the real reasons why it could have been any of us. It could have been me. It could have been... Ya gotta look at the basically thousands of women. You gotta remember that it was mostly women in AIM. It could have been any one of us and I think that’s why it’s been so important. And she was just such a good person.", 3 November 1999, Native American Public Telecommunications, carried at News FRom Indian Country, accessed 16 July 2011
Publisher and editor of News from Indian Country, Paul DeMain, explained that "...Anna Mae had a legacy of doing things differently, in 1975 she was alcohol and drug free which made her stand out within the movement boldly because many people were still using and partying and there were many things going on in that area."
In a January 2002 editorial in the News from Indian Country, DeMain said that he had met with several people who said they had heard Leonard Peltier in 1975 confess to the shootings of the two FBI agents on 26 June 1975 at the Pine Ridge Reservation. They further said that they believed the motive for the death of Aquash "allegedly was her knowledge of who shot the two [FBI] agents, and Joe Stuntz." DeMain did not reveal his sources because of their personal danger in having spoken to him. In an editorial of March 2003, DeMain withdrew his support for clemency for Peltier. In response, Peltier sued DeMain for libel on May 1, 2003. On May 25, 2004, after the Arlo Looking Cloud trial ended with his conviction, Peltier withdrew the suit; he and DeMain reached a settlement.
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