NYT: Tribe Seeks Reopening of Inquiries in 70s Deaths
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION, S.D. — Forty years after the siege at Wounded Knee by members of the American Indian Movement, the Oglala Sioux tribe has demanded that the federal government reopen dozens of cases it says the F.B.I. may have mishandled decades ago.
Tribal leaders say that as many as 75 people were killed on Pine Ridge during a three-year period of internecine violence that followed the 71-day Wounded Knee standoff with federal troops in 1973, a time that came to be known on the reservation as the “reign of terror.”
The federal government has declined so far to re-examine the cases.
The dead, many of whom were members of the American Indian Movement, or AIM, often had been shot or hacked, their bodies disposed of on remote parts of the reservation’s sprawling badlands.
From 1973 to 1976, the homicide rate on Pine Ridge was 170 for every 100,000 people, according to the tribe. By comparison, Detroit, which was among the nation’s most violent big cities, had a rate of about 50 per 100,000 in 1974.
An F.B.I. review in 2000 of 57 deaths during the era of the reign of terror concluded that many deaths deemed suspicious by the tribe had not been murders. Among them was the case of John S. Moore, an American Indian Movement supporter found in December 1974 with stab wounds to his face and neck. A coroner ruled the death a suicide, a decision the F.B.I. has not challenged.