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The Standoff at Wounded Knee - The Reign of Terror | 4

The Standoff at Wounded Knee - The Reign of Terror | 4

Tue, 06 Aug 2019 09:00

Mounting violence forces Dennis Banks and the rest of the occupation to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their cause. Federal negotiators face a deadline to end the standoff at all costs, and Banks and Russell Means meet face to face with the FBI.

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On April 17, 50 days into the standoff at Wounded Knee, Occupyre Frank Clearwater is shot in the head. US Marshal Director Wayne Colburn is the one to get on the radio with the militants. Aimee representative sounds desperate, practically begging for a temporary ceasefire so as men can get to the body. He says Clearwater snuck through the perimeter to join them just the night before, alongside his pregnant wife. A government bullet came through the wall of the church where he was sleeping. Even after two months here, Colburn doesn't feel any closer to understanding the Indian's mindset. Who the hell takes his pregnant wife into a war zone? What did the couple see in this hopeless cause? He's thinking about this again a few days later, as he and assistant attorney General Kent Frizell drive towards Wounded Knee. Up ahead is one of Dick Wilson's illegal roadblocks, a few junker cars from the reservation parked across the road, and 20 of his goons milling around with rifles and shotguns. Colburn and Frizell share a look of disgust. The goon checkpoints have been driving them both crazy. Just the other day, Colburn had to arrest 11 goons who were blocking the Department of Justice mediators from going into Wounded Knee. But the FBI tried to stop the arrests. Ever since Joe Trimbock left town, the FBI and the goons have become rather chummy. As Frizell pulls the car to a stop, Colburn sees a teenage goon with a rifle coming to Frizell's side of the car. Hey, roll down the window. Frizell starts to wind it down, but when it's only cracked, Colburn stops him and shouts at the kid. You know who we are, let us through you dumb son of a bitch. At that, the teen points a rifle at Frizell's head. Get out of the car now. Colburn sees Frizell's eyes go wide and decides he can't take it anymore. He jumps out of the car and comes to where the teen still has his rifle pointed at Frizell. He takes his own assault rifle and puts the barrel inches from the kid's temple. Pull that trigger in your dead. Suddenly, an FBI agent appears from behind the roadblock. Directing Colburn, put your gun down, kids with us. What the hell do you mean he's with you? You're supposed to be with me. He's putting a gun to the head of the goddamn assistant attorney general. Hey, let's just all calm down. Everyone lower their guns. All lower mine if he lowers his. God, you've got to be kidding me. Everything's good here. Just everyone. Put the guns down. Colburn relents. The kid does the same. He steps away and Colburn and Frizell get back in the car and keep driving. Each two angry and ashamed to speak of what just happened. Colburn knew the FBI was getting friendly with Wilson's men at the roadblocks, but he had no idea how friendly. Colburn has control of his men, but his men are the only ones who knew me. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together. And we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scandal. In early 1973, Indian activists with the American Indian movement, or AIM, took over the remote South Dakota town on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. The occupiers declared the village of Wounded Knee an independent country and demanded a government to government meeting with the Nixon White House. When that meeting fell through at the last minute, both sides blamed each other and violence resumed and escalated. Now the government has a new plan to snuff out the occupation, one that doesn't require negotiation. This is episode four, The Rain of Terror. Two days after a goon put a gun to his head, assistant attorney General Kent Friezel sits in his office at the Federal Command Center in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Pine Ridge Village. Occasionally, a radio tune to the Federal Channel cuts in with updates on the firefights and going on all afternoon. Friezel thanks back bitterly to two weeks ago when he was ready to resolve everything peaceably. If Russell means had an insisted on calling him and the rest of the negotiators liars on national television, no less, they could have smoothed it all out. But now, there's blood on both sides and likely more to come. Friezel just received word that occupier Frank Clearwater is dead, who knows how many more are injured inside Wounded Knee. On the Federal side, two men have sustained serious injuries, an FBI agent was shot in the hand trying to chase down a van he suspected of hauling weapons, and a marshal from Nebraska took a bullet in the spine. The doctors say the man will probably never walk again, so now Friezel has that on his conscience. Friezel just got a deadline that comes straight from the attorney general. He is ten days to end the standoff and he must do so with minimal loss of life. That sounds like an impossible line to walk, but Washington wants Wounded Knee to be over and done with by early May. Otherwise, they reason, colleges will get out for the summer, and every radical and adventure seeker in the country will flock to Wounded Knee, turning the South Dakota badlands into an armed and dangerous woodstock. Friezel doesn't know what he's going to do though. He played his diplomatic cards two weeks ago, and now the trust he's built up with aim is broken. Meanwhile, the federal forces on the ground are barely speaking to each other. That's obvious from the radio chatter he can overhear from the hallway, not to mention the fiasco at the roadblock. But Friezel has to give the FBI one thing. They have cultivated reliable sources inside Wounded Knee. Friezel's already used bits of their information and press conference. Hopefully that will keep aim guessing as to who they can trust, maybe even start some infighting. If there's enough of that, the whole thing might fall apart. In Washington, tells Friezel that they have something much bigger waiting to end the standoff if needed. 200 airborne troops from an army base in Colorado. They're seasoned soldiers with training putting down civil disturbances, and they're on a six hour standby. If the White House gives the word, the planned attack will start with an armored helicopter dropping leaflets over Wounded Knee, promising a massive government assault within hours and urging noncompetents to leave. When the window to leave expires, more helicopters will spread tear gas of the area, scattering most of the fighters and blinding them with clouds of accurate smoke. Finally, the marshals will rush in with their assault rifles, backed by a column of armor personnel carriers. There's simply no way they won't win. Someone in the Justice Department has already leaked the attack plan to the press, partly to soften the shock to the public, but mostly to let the people inside Wounded Knee know exactly what's coming for them if talks fail. Frizel is glad to have this solution in his back pocket if he needs it. It's brutal, but it will work. The news media was expelled weeks ago so the world won't be able to see the assault. When reports finally do come out that a few more Indians were killed in this final battle, Frizel doubts that will be enough for the press to call whatever happens at Wounded Knee, a second massacre. The government radio channel has been quiet for a while now, but suddenly a voice breaks in, shaking Frizel out of his thoughts. It doesn't identify itself, but it could only be coming from a federal position. It starts to countdown. Three, two, one, go. Then Frizel hears heavy fire coming over the radio. What the hell is going on? Bullets rain down on Wounded Knee, coming from every position on the federal perimeter. An Ogalala Lakota named Buddy Lamont huddles close to the earth, where he's defending the village from the bunker nicknamed Last Stand. Lamont is 31 years old and was born and raised on Pine Ridge. Wounded Knee has a special significance to him. His grandmother survived the massacre of 1890 when she was just 12 years old, and Lamont's wanted to be a fighter since the first time he heard her story. He volunteered for Vietnam and survived to come home to Pine Ridge, but on his worst day in Vietnam, he could never have imagined his own reservation the way it looks now. With Tracer bullets flying past him, and 50 parachute flares descending in a veil of ghostly light. Out in the distance, Lamont can see the feds with their armored personnel carriers rumbling closer. They have 50 caliber machine guns mounted on top, capable of mowing down the occupation to the last man. Lamont has been taking fire all day, but now it's coming from every direction at once. As near as he can tell, Dick Wilson's goons or maybe some vigilante ranchers are firing from the hills, and the feds are joining in from their positions. He can't really keep track, but it hardly matters, because like everyone else in the occupation, he only has a handful of bullets left. Maybe this is the final assault the feds have been threatening. It said something about a warning, but he wouldn't be surprised if that was a ruse. And if that's the case, he'll have to choose his shots carefully. Lamont watches as the last flare hits the ground just a few yards behind him. He tries to feel safer now that he's hidden in darkness, but the firing won't relent. He wonders if any of his childhood friends are among the goons firing into Wounded Knee. He used to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, just like some of them, but lost his job when he criticized Wilson's actions against the traditional ogolala. His mom wanted him not to go to Wounded Knee, but she still brought him food and fresh clothes when the roblox were lifted after he'd only been here a week. He told her then not to worry that they were going to win, but the bullets are right on top of him now. When they don't heves his pillowcase sandbags, they crack overhead, but then they suddenly stop. It's like he's in the eye of a storm, the only quiet part of the battle all around. He clutches his rifle and rises up from the bunker. At first, Dennis Banks barely registers the news, amid everything else that's happened this evening. He's pacing the floor of the Wounded Knee Museum, a tiny log cabin that serves as security headquarters. He has one radio tune to the government frequency and another tune to the fighters and the bunkers. At least two of his men are down. One fighter shot through the hand, another hit in both legs. He's been talking with the feds trying to get a ceasefire so he can get medics to them, but the feds are even jumpier than usual. Every time he sends a medic, they're convinced that the person is a new fighter coming to man the bunker and they open fire. Now a voice breaks through again on the radio. Dennis it says, do you hear me? Buddy Le Mans down at last and bunker. A sniper. God I'm straight through the heart. The next morning, Dennis Banks enters the trading post where the Ogalala leaders at Wounded Knee are waiting for him. Every face is a mask of mourning. A death of Frank Clearwater was bad enough, but this one. This one hits hard. They've all known Buddy Le Mans since he was a child. Banks knows his own grief can't match theirs, but he fought alongside Le Mans for two months and he's come to this meeting with renewed purpose. Le Mans death is all the more reason to keep fighting. Banks addresses the room. I grieve for Buddy, along with everyone here. Last night you lost a son. He died a warrior's death. Banks can feel the swirl of the room's emotions, their anger and regret, their guilt and their grief. He pauses just a moment, then continues. I don't pretend to nobody in the way of everyone here, but I believe he would have wanted us to keep fighting. What we're doing here is bigger than any one life. Bigger than even Buddy's life. He understood that. He died for our cause. Ellen Moves Camp speaks up from among the mourners. Dennis, what more can we do? Banks shakes his head. I know last night was a tragedy, but we have to keep going. We have a responsibility. We've come so close. It is still possible for the independent Ogalala nation to live on. Think of what that would mean for your children and grandchildren, what it would mean for every Indian in the country. Moves Camp speaks gently. We've already decided, Dennis. This has to end. We can't risk losing another man like Buddy. Banks sees the faces in the room go distant. Having already lost the vision he's been working so hard to preserve. He nods. I understand. Talk to Fizzel. Get what you can at negotiating table. Fight for sovereignty if you can. Aime won't get in your way. And at once Moves Camp regains all the fire she had on the night she first urged them into wounded knee. We will fight, Dennis. Don't worry. It's time for this to end. We're not leaving here with nothing. I'll die before that happens. Banks smiles dimly at her words. Well, I've decided something as well. Aime came here to stand with you. Now that you plan to stand down, our job is done. Even if it's over at wounded knee, there are more battles we have to fight. So I'm not going to stay here to get dragged away in handcuffs. I don't know how yet. I'm going to sneak through the perimeter. I'm going to get out. Banks heart fills to see the Ogalala nod their assent. Moves Camp speaks for them. We wish you luck. Thank you, Ellen. Thank you, everyone, for standing here. I'm so sorry about Buddy. Banks leaves the room and walks into the cold warning. He looks around at the village that was briefly the independent Ogalala Nation. He still feels that every drop of blood spilled here was worth it, even buddies. He respects the Ogalala's decision, but the end of wounded knee cannot be the end of the American Indian movement. He'll make it out of here and find Aime's next battleground because he will never stop fighting. For this cause, there's no cost too high. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Generation Y is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there, and we are still at it, unraveling a new case every week. We break down infamous cases like the Evil Genius Bank robbery, and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico. Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. On May 3rd, Assistant Attorney General Kent Frizell arrives at what he counts as the second strangest venue he's ever used for a negotiation. A school bus, parked in the demilitarized zone between the village of Wondreny and the federal perimeter. As strange as it is, he much prefers it to the T.P. where he first spoke with Russell Means. It's less dramatic. It's also almost impossible to even make eye contact with the occupation leaders, with everyone crammed into rows of school kid sized seats facing the windshield. And in a detailed Frizell especially likes, the parked bus gives the feeling of things going nowhere. It's a good place to make someone want to give up on their lost cause. And yet, negotiations have not gotten easier. The first day of talks after Buddy Lamont's death, he was sure they were ready to give in. But then things grew desperate, like they were determined to get something after nine weeks of loss and hunger. There's not much he can offer them, but he won't let a true slip away like last time. Frizell straightens his tie and walks up the steps into the bus, where the Ogilala leaders are already waiting for him in rows on one side of the aisle, expressionless. Thank you all for coming. Shall we continue? He takes a seat across the aisle for the rows of Ogilalas. My question to you is, is the same it's been since the first day I arrived. Are you ready to disarm? Ellen moves camp as the first to speak. Mr. Frizell, as we said this whole time, we cannot disarm without a White House meeting to discuss our treaty rights. Those rights are why we are here. You know we can't disarm without them, but every time we bring up the White House, you pretend we're crazy. Frizell can't help but laugh. Do you know what's been going on at the White House in the last few days? I guess you just don't get the newspaper in the village. Heds are starting to roll from this watergate business. President Nixon's special counsel just resigned, so did the Attorney General and two members of his closest staff. I doubt there's even eight bodies left around the White House that I could scare up to meet with you. Moves camp remains firm. Well, we don't care about any of that business. We have treaty rights that go back to 1868 that should allow us to live free on our land. We have been living in a police state on Pine Ridge. Our people aren't allowed to hold public meetings. Dick Wilson doesn't allow any dissent. And you, the federal government are the ones propping him up. Nixon's a boy scout compared to Dick Wilson. Frizell nods. Listen, can I call you Ellen? All those fears that you have about your rights and your lives on the reservation, they aren't going to be resolved as long as you have the confrontation here at Wounded Knee. Now, if we can end this, we'll have the guns available to protect you. We'll keep a residual force of FBI and marshals here on Pine Ridge to ensure your safety. We'll even set up a police station at Wounded Knee Village and you can stop by any time for a cup of coffee. But we can't do it as long as you're all down there and our officers are constantly having to defend themselves. Moves camp's expression hasn't changed. Our treaty rights, okay, okay. I'll find someone to meet with you at the White House to discuss any and all matters regarding the 1868 treaty. But I can't do that as long as the arms are in Wounded Knee. Please, Ellen, I need you to meet me halfway. Frizell seaves Moves camp hesitate. Here's his window. His tone hardens. This thing cannot go on indefinitely. You've got one more chance. And if you don't disarm, then the hard decisions are going to be made. I don't know how to tell you any planar. I don't want that hard decision to be made. On the evening of May 7, Dennis Banks sits on the steps of the Catholic Church watching Nightfall of Wounded Knee. Tomorrow, we mark the 71st and final day of the occupation. It's all been decided. Beginning at 7 a.m., the occupiers will line up at the main roadblock so they can be photographed and fingerprinted. The marshals will remove the aim flag from the church steeple and replace it with the stars and stripes. There's even word that the many former green berets among the marshals plan to have a victory ceremony celebrating the occasion. They'll mark the end of the independent Ogola Nation by firing their assault rifles into the air. Ellen moves camp and the rest of the Ogolas did the best they could in negotiations. They coordinated the stand down so that all the occupiers would be safe from Wilson's goons rushing in. And they even supposedly secured a White House meeting on their treaty rights. On the off chance it does happen, it will probably just be a photo op. But it's still remarkable. For at least a day, they'll deal directly with the highest office in the U.S. just as President Grant found it necessary to deal directly with the great Ogola leader Red Cloud, who won the Lakota the Treaty of 1868. So yes, it's all been decided. Except where Banks will be by the end of the night. He sees four men walking up the hill toward him, armed with rifles and shotguns. There are the volunteer security detail that planned to slip and pass the federal perimeter, pass the attack dogs and roving marshals and tripwire flares. After they made the plan, Leonard Crowdog held a ceremony that he said would make them invisible. He blessed Banks and the others five men from five different tribes. After that, AIM's spiritual leader surrendered to the marshals and was hauled away. Banks here is loud shouting near one of the federal roblox. He stands up. That's the signal. A diversion created by some of the last occupiers so that he can sneak away. He nods at the security men and the five of them move north toward Porcupine but with a federal perimeter as weakest. Banks feels his weakness from a month of one meal a day rash and says they run in a hundred yard sprints, flattening out each time a spotlight fans near them through the field. He crosses wounded knee creak just behind the point man and can hear marshals laughing in a nearby Jeep oblivious to their presence. They head across a final stretch of field in a mad dash. And he hears barking. The dogs have caught his scent but they lose him when he ducks into a friendly mobile home in Porcupine Village, hometown of Russell Means. Finally, he rests. Banks is convinced Crowdogs medicine got him through because tonight he really was invisible. But the next morning, Banks opens his eyes knowing he's still a long way from safety. He needs to get to Canada. The feds have been claiming they broke AIM when they ended the occupation but he'll prove them wrong. He says goodbye to Ellen moves camp who ferries him out of Porcupine Village and off Dick Wilson's reservation. Another AIM car takes him to the border where he crosses on foot through the thick Canadian forests. Eventually, he makes it all the way to the tip of the Northwest territory where he's welcomed by a band of the northern dinner. He knows officials are combing every highway, bus and train for him in the Dakotas but here there isn't even a single road. With the occupation finally over, Dick Wilson walks the streets of Wounded Knee taking a victor's survey of the village. He peers out from behind dark sunglasses, stone faced as the news cameras watch his every move. The marshals arrested a news crew that tried to film the end of the standoff but now they've led all the press come flooding back in to film the American flag flying from the church steeple. Wilson hates being in the limelight, almost as much as Russell Means loves it. He hates that the whole world now has an opinion on how he runs his reservation. Some of them know a damn thing about what Pine Ridge really is. Wilson looks out at the main street, glittering with shell casings, the outside world's latest fascination with his home. He's seen this cycle before and he'll see it again. The white world becomes interested in the reservation. Diggs around a bit makes a prized, worried faces, gives a speech or two and then moves on. Maybe it's a professor from a university, maybe it's an aid worker or a news crew or the FBI or the US Army. They'll all pretend to have discovered something but really they're just as clueless as the tourists who go to Mount Rushmore and say they've seen the black hills. Well, Dick Wilson will tell them what Pine Ridge is really about. He'll tell them who he really is. He's a man who survived a war, the likes of which hadn't been seen here since the massacre, which by the way killed his people too. He has far more right to Wounded Knees history than the opportunists and showboats at aim who aren't even Ogolala, not to mention all the blacks and hippies that aim brought onto his reservation to join them. It's too bad Dennis Banks escaped, but the feds are already convening grand juries to try the occupiers who gave themselves up at the checkpoint. And that Washington Bigwig, Ken Frasel, promised the occupiers that he'd retain the FBI and Pine Ridge and indeed they are staying. But Wilson knows that the agents who stick around will be on his side, not theirs. Soon there will be no one left to protect the traditionals or any of his other enemies on the reservation. The standoff at Wounded Knees over. And for Dick Wilson, that means the real war can begin. On September 16th, 1974, well over a year after the standoff at Wounded Knees, Russell means takes what he hopes will be his last walk up the steps of the federal courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota. He's wearing aviator sunglasses and medallions woven into his braids. Beside him is Dennis Banks, in a blood red shirt and a beaded choker necklace. He came out of hiding in Canada once aim raised enough money to make his bail. They're being tried together on a litany of charges stemming from the occupation. Burglary, assault of federal agents, possession of unregistered firearms and more. All together, enough to put each of them away for life. After a trial that's dragged on for eight months, today is the day they will learn their fate. They're being tried by Judge Frederick Nichol, means was wary of him at first, especially when he tried to bar an entire busload of Pine Ridge elders from witnessing the trial. They had showed up in court in full regalia, the men in feathered war bonnets and the women in beaded dresses. At first, Nichol said he didn't want people wearing costumes in his courtroom. Then laughed and relented when one of the ogolala told him. I wouldn't talk like that if I wore black dress to work every day. Since then, it's been a hell of a ride. He and Banks have served as their own co councils and have based their defense on the Treaty of 1868. They have successfully submitted the treaty into evidence before the jury and argued that they were fully within their rights to be at Wounded Knee, because the treaty had given the Lakota the territory that encompassed not only Wounded Knee Village, but the entirety of the Dakotas and beyond. They've also succeeded in turning the courtroom into a theater showcasing their cause. They knew from this start that they were making a political argument in front of the jury. The justice of their cause was the only way to defend against the criminal charges, especially with all the false testimony from the FBI. Means is astounded at the string of agents in perfectly pressed suits who took the witness stand, put a hand on the Bible and began a testimony that was one long lie in front of their God. Luckily, they've had a brilliant defense team behind them. The team is led by William Kunsler, the famed defender of the radical left who represented the Black Panthers, the weather underground, and the Chicago Seven. A standout with his crazy, graying hair and reading glasses constantly mounted on the top of his forehead. Kunsler was making trips into Wounded Knee to advise him while the occupation was still going. His defense team has managed to drag out a trove of secret documents that have embarrassed the FBI at every turn. At one point, an FBI agent's testimony was so obviously false based on the evidence presented that the judge stopped him and asked, do you know what perjury is? After the agent got off the stand, Means and Dennis Banks declared that they were going to put the liar under citizens arrest for his crimes. The judge told them that they couldn't do that in the courtroom, so they chased him out onto the street. Other FBI agents finally whisked him away into a waiting car. But perhaps the best part of the trial had been watching special agent in charge Joseph Trimbach square him on the witness stand. The judge reprimanded him mercilessly for not recognizing his own signature approving a wiretap for which he did not have a warrant. By the time the government prosecutors arrested their case, Means and Banks were so confident they would win that they only called six witnesses. Judge Nichol sent the jury off to deliberate, but then disaster happened. One of the jurors became so ill that she had to be hospitalized. Judge Nichol asked that they allow the 11 remaining jurors to come to a verdict. He and Banks agreed, but the prosecution told the judge they worried the jury would reach the wrong verdict and demanded a mistrial. Now Judge Nichol will decide what comes next. Banks and Means take their seat at the defense table. Judge Nichol enters. He looks enraged. It's a good sign when he takes the bench and immediately turns his angry look at the team of government prosecutors to raid behind their table. Order. Over the course of this trial, the prosecution has misled the court about the testimony of key witnesses. Your statement that a jury might reach a wrong verdict is in a front to the entire American justice system. Furthermore, the prosecution has tried time and again to mislead this court and the American people about the involvement of the military during the standoff at Wounded Knee. I was a Navy commander myself, but I remember this as a country run by civilian rule, not by military rule. As long as I am a federal judge, the military of this country will never run civilian affairs or have anything to do with the execution of the law. As for the conduct of the FBI in this courtroom, it's hard for me to believe that this institution, which I revered for so long, has stooped to such a low state. The waters of justice have been polluted. I will not declare a mistrial. I believe that dismissal of all remaining charges against Mr. Banks and Mr. Means is the appropriate cure for the pollution in this case. The court is a criminal. Russell Means can't process everything he's feeling himself right now. He and Banks walk to greet reporters on the courthouse steps. Banks and the defense team are exuberant, but means holds his arms limply by his side. He's a free man, but the same time he knows that without a jury verdict, the treaty of 1868 will remain a matter of obscurity with no modern legal precedent. That was what they were fighting for at Wounded Knee. He's gained his freedom, but lost their cause. On February 27, 1998, 25 years after he first led the caravan into Wounded Knee, Dennis Banks stands in a whiteout blizzard on Pine Ridge. He's joined by some 700 who have gathered to honor the anniversary of the occupation. He sees old faces wrapped against the cold as if they're back in that long winter in the bunkers. They're joined by new faces who weren't even alive when the occupation ended. It's hard to add up the cost of that occupation. It's too much to bear at once, so he tries to only bring to mind one lost face at a time. Even as he and Russell Means were set free in 1974, Dick Wilson's goons continued to rampage on Pine Ridge. The years after Wounded Knee became known as the reign of terror. By the time Dick Wilson finally lost re election in 1976, more than 60 AIM supporters were murdered on the reservation, giving it the highest per capita murder rate in the country. In 1975, a shootout on Pine Ridge between AIM and the FBI resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents and one AIM member. Another AIM regular named Leonard Peltier was convicted of killing the agents. Leonard is still in prison and will probably die there, no matter how many famous people and foreign leaders asked the president to pardon him. Prosecutions against AIM piled up, year after year. In the months after the standoff at Wounded Knee, more than 500 AIM members were indicted on criminal charges, everything from burglary of the Wounded Knee trading post to assault and conspiracy. Few were convicted, but that didn't matter. By the end of it, AIM wasn't really an activist organization anymore. Just spent all its time and money defending past actions. And although it kills banks to admit it, the trial was his last triumph over the FBI. At least one AIM chapter had more informants than actual members. Every time a friend who turned out to be an informant took the witness stand, AIM lost more of its unity. Eventually, paranoia destroyed them and they descended into violent AIM fighting. Banks can't absolve himself of his role in that, not in every case. Squinting against the driven snow, he thinks of everything that's been born from Wounded Knee, and everything that's passed into the grave. Though AIM's tactics at Wounded Knee remain controversial, the occupation is widely credited with a transformation of Native Americans place in American life. In the wake of the occupation, cultural institutions sprouted to preserve Native cultures. Once dormant ideas about sovereignty became legitimate topics of political conversation. A whole country woke up to the idea that Native Americans would not be defined by historical atrocity. They intended to be part of America's present and future and would do so on their own terms. Even as AIM disintegrated, Russell Means and Dennis Banks remained outspoken activists for the rest of their lives. Means Flair for Showmanship earned him a steady place in Hollywood where he voiced the father of Disney's Pocahontas and acted alongside Daniel De Lewis in the last of the Mohicans. Means died in 2012 near the village in Pine Ridge where he was born. He was 72. After many years of legal battles, Dennis Banks became a drug and alcohol addiction counselor on Pine Ridge. He later moved back to the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota where the Bureau of Indian Affairs boss had come to take him away so many years before. Means died in 2017 at age 80. More than 100 people continued to gather on Pine Ridge each February to mark the anniversary of the occupation. They marched with flags of the Ogallala Nation. The ceremony always ends at the grave of Buddy Lamont who was buried alongside the master of victims of 1890. His headstone reads, 2500 came to wounded knee in 1973. One still remains. By the mid 90s the Enron Corporation has become a Wall Street darling. But some of Enron's accounting practices unsettle employees, the company's perennially rosy numbers started raising suspicions. Enron's creative accounting risks toppling the company in unleashing an energy crisis. The story of one of the biggest corporate frauds ever debuts August 20th. From Wondry, this is American scandal. Just a quick note about our reenactments. We can't always know exactly what was said, but everything in our show is based on historical research. American scandal is hosted, edited and executive produced by me, Lindsay Graham for Airship, sound designed by Derek Barrett. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Casey Meiner. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenz, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonmopez for Wondry.