Native American Press / Ojibwe News

April 4, 2003
photo of Arlo Looking Cloud

submitted photo
Arlo Looking Cloud
(standing at right)

Correction:  A photo on page 1 of the April 4th issue of Press/ON was incorrectly identified as Arlo Looking Cloud.  News from Indian Country generously provided the photo to Press/ON.  News from Indian Country takes full responsibility for the error in the previous photo.  Curt Tail View (deceased) is the person whose photo was inadvertently published in last week’s issue, and News from Indian Country apologizes for any inconvenience to the family.

Editor’s note: the published photo was cropped from an original [above] that included three individuals, and it was explained to the NFIC editor that Arlo Looking Cloud was “to the left.”  There was a misunderstanding about whether this meant “to the left” from the perspective of the other people in the photo, or “to the left” as seen by someone looking at the photo.

Webmaster's note: the person to the viewer's right in the photograph above, is Arlo.


Man held in 1976 death of Anna Mae Aquash
 
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In a case that has haunted Indian Country for nearly 30 years, police have arrested a Denver man in the slaying of an American Indian Movement member whose frozen body was found on the Pine Ridge reservation in 1976.

Authorities said Arlo Looking Cloud, 49, was arrested in Denver last week. He pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, U.S. Attorney James McMahon said Wednesday in Sioux Falls. McMahon said he could not comment on the case or say whether more arrests are possible. The indictment of Looking Cloud remained sealed.

Aquash, 30, disappeared in late 1975 from a Denver home where she had been staying. Her body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found in February 1976 on the sprawling reservation 90 miles east of Rapid City.

The unsolved murder of Aquash has been the subject of television documentaries, folk songs and books. The decades of accusations and suspicion have torn apart friendships in the American Indian community.

"This is the break anyone who wants justice in this case has been waiting for," said Paul DeMain, editor of News From Indian Country, a publication on the Lac Courtes Oreilles reservation in northwest Wisconsin. DeMain has written extensively about the murder.

Even after 27 years, said DeMain, emotions run high in the Indian community about the case. "It was a group of people having someone executed — the highest-ranking female person in the movement at the time," said DeMain.

"She was a fund-raiser, a grant-writer, curriculum developer for schools. She washed, cleaned, took grandmothers to get groceries," said DeMain. While other AIM leaders were "media gorillas," said DeMain, Pictou Aquash was an intellectual activist.

In 1999, American Indian Movement founder Russell Means, who had feuded with Minneapolis AIM leaders, accused unnamed senior AIM members of ordering the execution of Aquash. A statement issued by the Minneapolis AIM office in response to Means' claim characterized the allegations as "a continuation of the U.S. government FBI war against the American Indian Movement leadership."

Looking Cloud worked as a security guard at AIM events during the 1970s, said DeMain. AIM was beset by internal disputes at the time, DeMain said.

Vernon Bellecourt, AIM's international affairs director, said from the group's headquarters in Minneapolis that he didn't know much about the specific allegations against Looking Cloud and hasn't seen him in 25 years.

"I've heard the same scuttlebutt and accusations that everybody else has heard," he said.

But Bellecourt was skeptical about why it took the government so long to charge anyone.
 
"Why 27 years later?" Bellecourt asked.
 
Aquash, a citizen of Canada's Mi'kmaq Nation, was among the Indian people who occupied the village of Wounded Knee in a 71-day standoff with federal authorities in 1973.

Some speculated she was killed by AIM members because she knew some of them were government spies.

Others said Aquash was killed because she herself was an informant. Some Indian people believed she was killed by the FBI. Federal authorities have repeatedly denied any involvement.

She disappeared from the Denver home of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood.

"She had been brought to my house as a place of refuge," Yellow Wood said in January. "To hide, basically. That's about all I can say."

Several grand juries had investigated the case over the years.

A hearing was planned for Thursday to determine whether Looking Cloud should be brought to South Dakota to face charges. If convicted, he would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Bernice Bull Bear of Denver is Looking Cloud's cousin and grew up with him on the Pine Ridge reservation.

"He's a very good person. He's a very gentle man. The children like him, and he's really good with my mother. He helps her. He's not a bad person," she said. "He's never harmed anybody around here."

Looking Cloud had been homeless in Denver, she said.

Aquash's daughters released a statement saying they were pleased there had been an arrest. They said they were making contact with authorities in order to be part of the case.

"We have known for a long time that people have discussed amongst themselves the events that led up to her death, yet publicly have remained silent," wrote Denise Maloney Pictou of Ontario and Debbie Maloney Pictou, who lives in Nova Scotia.

"We are inspired with the actions of those who choose to courageously stand on their own and honor our mothers' spirit with truth and integrity."

This article includes material from Bob Shaw of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Associated Press

Editor’s note: additional information about Anna Mae Aquash can be found online at http://www.dickshovel.com/anna.html, http://www.indiancountrynews.com/aquashmurder2.cfm, and at numerous other websites.



 
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