Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country

Overview


In 1976 the body of Anna Mae Aquash, an American Indian luminary, 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. Using this scandal as a point of departure, The Unquiet Grave opens a tunnel into the dark side of the FBI and its subversion of American Indian activists. But the book also discovers things the Indians would prefer to keep buried. What unfolds is a sinuous ...
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Overview


In 1976 the body of Anna Mae Aquash, an American Indian luminary, 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. Using this scandal as a point of departure, The Unquiet Grave opens a tunnel into the dark side of the FBI and its subversion of American Indian activists. But the book also discovers things the Indians would prefer to keep buried. What unfolds is a sinuous tale of conspiracy, murder, and cover-up that stretches from the plains of South Dakota to the polished corridors of Washington, D.C. First-time author Steve Hendricks sued the FBI over several years to pry out thousands of unseen documents about the events. His work was supported by the prestigious Fund for Investigative Journalism. Hendricks, who has freelanced for The Nation, Boston Globe, Orion, and public radio, is one of those rare reporters whose investigative tenacity is accompanied by grace with the written word.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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, coverups, 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." (Sept. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An excellent book that reopens the wounds of Wounded Knee-and that provides important new information for readers of Peter Matthiessen's long-suppressed In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Freelance investigative journalist and debut author Hendricks spent four years assembling the documentary evidence-including many surrendered by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act-that underlies this narrative. It begins well along the chain of tragic events at the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in the early and mid-1970s, when members and supporters of the American Indian Movement (AIM) confronted a corrupt tribal leadership backed by local representatives of the federal government. One was the FBI agent in charge, who tellingly called Indians "a conquered nation, and when you're conquered, the people you're conquered by dictate your future." Radicals such as Russell Means and Dennis Banks begged to differ, and in 1973, AIM activists seized the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, only to be besieged by Oglala chairman Dick Wilson's self-styled goons backed by-here's news-U.S. Army officers dressed in civilian clothing, as well as "16 armored personnel carriers, 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 120 sniper rifles, and 20 grenade launchers," with a Phantom jet thrown in for good measure. The Nixon White House denied all this, though prosecutors who later tried AIM members would insist that the "Pentagon had no real role at Wounded Knee." South Dakota politico William Janklow, Hendricks alleges, did, revisiting charges that Matthiessen reported in his 1983 book, withdrawn from the market after Janklow sued Matthiessen and Viking, his publisher. So, too, did the FBI, with agents implicated in thecovered-up murders of several AIM sympathizers-and two of whose agents in turn were murdered by an informer. Hendricks takes pains to point out that AIM was not made up of saints alone; nor was every goon evil. A blistering, important work, updating Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allan Warrior's Like a Hurricane (1996).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568583648
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2007
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Steve Hendricks is an investigative journalist who has written for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, the Boston Globe, DoubleTake, and Seattle Weekly. Educated at Yale, he spent four years researching The Unquiet Grave while living in Montana. He now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his wife and son.
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