Welcome to this week’s History Thread! At this point, I’m inclined to call it yet another open thread and call it a day.
Today’s picture: On June 26, 1975 two FBI Agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, entered the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation looking for a Lakota man suspected of robbery. The two agents tracked a vehicle resembling the suspect’s description, radioed in a report, then came under rifle fire which left both agents dead. A collection of law enforcement officials raided the Reservation soon afterwards, killing one member of the American Indian Movement, Joseph Stuntz, in a shootout. However, the FBI that one Leonard Peltier, known as a major AIM activist, was the culprit for the deaths of the two agents, especially after finding one of the dead agents’ firearms with Peltier’s thumbprint on it.
Peltier fled to Canada, where he was apprehended by local police the following February and later extradited to the United States. Due to the relatively shaky evidence against Peltier, his arrest and sentencing made Peltier a cause celebre among Native American and progressive groups, who advocated for clemency. The brief flurry of popular support for Indian rights, however, largely waned by the mid-’70s, and Peltier receive two life sentences. He is still in prison and will not be eligible for parole until 2024.