Who Will Unravel Her Insults?
by Karen Testerman
March 13, 2004

[IWJ Note:

It is the policy of IWJ not to dignify transparent and derogatory remarks, but Antoinette Claypoole's recent comments about the IWJ were felt by some of our members to be laced with insidious prejudice, and so we invited Karen Testerman, a Lakota journalist from Pine Ridge, to respond - being as Karen bore the brunt of Ms. Claypoole's attack.

For our part, we were curious as to Ms. Claypoole's motivation until we discovered her sycophantic article entitled "The Elder Bellecourt," promoting Vernon Bellecourt. Remember Looking Cloud's comment on his videotaped confession to being present when Anna Mae was murdered? The part where he said, "If you want to know why it happened ask Bellecourt . . . Vernon Bellecourt." From her 'reporting' it seems that Ms. Claypoole believes that AIM is currently the greatest threat to the US government, presumably greater than Al Qaeda. Now we finally see what's happening - the US armed forces are scouring the Afghan/Pakistan border for Vernon Bellecourt, not Osama bin Laden. Right. And the terror threat is raised every time Bill Means and Dennis Banks leave Minnesota. We should probably do some research to see how many AIM members are presently detained at Guantanamo Bay . . .

And then we learned Ms. Claypoole – a non-indigenous woman – is busy peddling her obscure book that is supposedly about Annie Mae; presumably the more discord she can create, the more copies she might sell, and the more she might profit from Annie Mae's tragic murder. Of course, according to Native Voice, Claypoole was at Looking Cloud's trial "in seeking to honor Anna Mae." Since when has honoring a murder victim been about exploiting their name for commercial gain, creating pain for the victim's surviving family members, and providing the man indicted with murdering the victim with doctored transcripts from Pacifica Radio reports? If Claypoole isn't exploiting Annie Mae, she should donate her book royalties to Annie Mae's daughters' justice fund.]

Claypoole talks about "disgusting vendettas against AIM." There is nothing more disgusting than kidnapping, raping, and murdering a Native mother, the fact that AIM members were responsible does not excuse the crime. Were you in AIM in 1975 Ms. Claypoole? Some of our members were, so please don't presume to speak for them. They know, as we do, that this isn't about a vendetta against AIM, because those in AIM responsible for this are not truly AIM: AIM lives in the hearts of the people, and will continue to do so when this cancer is removed from AIM. If Claypoole understood anything about AIM she would know that AIM isn't Vernon and Clyde Bellecourt, Bill Means, Dennis Banks, etc. And as for John Boy, he has publicly disavowed AIM. We find it disgusting that Ms. Claypoole is using this heinous crime against a Native woman to further and promote her career and her political agenda.

We are trying to decide if Ms. Claypoole and her three-chatroom pen pals are, in 'Vernon Bellecourteze,' "dupes, pawns or extremist informants who became misinformation specialists in the Nixon White House," or maybe that's just another silly rumor . . .

Lena yuha cante wasteya nape ciyuzapi. Lakota miye. Le miye Mniskuyawin. Ikcewin miye. The blood that gives me life is of my relatives who fought at the Little Big Horn and those who escaped the Wounded Knee Massacre. My name is Karen Lee Testerman; I'm Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota. I know who I am and whom I come from. What follows should not be interpreted as an attempt to open a dialogue. Rather, it is a response.

Ms. Claypoole asks how a bunch of Indians could have enough brains to start a support group and get international attention overnight? An insolent attitude toward the skills, abilities and professionalism of Indian women is apparent here, but the answer is simple: it started through prayer and hard work. The results are blessings. IWJ was not created with any hidden agenda, and the IWJ web site is posted for all to read and draw their own conclusions. IWJ has not tried to silence any aspects or ideas about Anna Mae's execution, but there are those who are determined to silence IWJ for presenting facts to the public!

Ms. Claypoole questions the integrity of several Indian journalists, "How DOES a group of Indian journalists—at least one of whom is facing a lawsuit for slander and libel—how does this group get such admitted international attention?" We began by following leads; creating sources and finding documentation, which is how any good journalist proceeds. The BBC came to us because their reporter, who needed good sources, found that the information we provided was credible and accurate as the testimony in the Looking Cloud trial confirmed. He used us as a resource and quoted us when he had verified our information. Please note that Paul DeMain does not contribute to the IWJ site, and he has no part in creating the postings. Whatever Paul's dealings are with Peltier, that's his business. You may notice we don't talk of Peltier in our postings because our focus is Annie Mae. We don't want to be pulled into diversion tactics. Remember that some of these AIM guys have been doing that for years! It's almost funny that Claypoole seems adamant in protecting John Graham's right to be innocent until proven guilty, but writes as if Paul DeMain is guilty until proven innocent of defamation! No member and no journalist from IWJ are "facing a lawsuit for slander and libel." Research your facts Ms. Claypoole before making your defamatory accusations or you might be "facing a lawsuit for slander and libel."

There is no excuse for anyone to insinuate the IWJ is run by the feds. That is a captious statement and a menacing (and very old) tactic. It is also in extremely bad taste given the reason that Annie Mae (among others) was murdered. For the record, there are no feds secretly manipulating the IWJ web site or purchasing full-page ads! I wrote the articles published in the Lakota Journal! The women of IWJ didn't call me, I called them. I'm an Indian journalist, that's what I do! I know Ka-Mook and her family, and I know that the defense at Arlo Looking Cloud's trial did not expose some secret pay-off. Ka-Mook knew what she would face by testifying, and she understands the legal process of 'discovery' where the defense has the right to see ALL the prosecution's evidence prior to trial and is given a chance to contest it. She knew her contribution to justice for Annie Mae would be wide open in that courtroom, and the threats she's already received are reasons why she was given financial help in moving to safer locations, to protect herself and her children. The receipts for reimbursement are proof enough. There is no conspiracy. Shortly before Christmas, at a funeral in Minneapolis, the Bellecourt brothers were witnessed confronting Dennis Banks with paperwork from 'discovery' (that legal process I mentioned earlier) and telling him his ex-wife was on the prosecution's witness list. I notice that the conspiracy theorists have not published the results of their research into the how the Bellecourts got their hands on that sensitive material, and put Ka-Mook's safety in jeopardy. Ka-Mook made the ultimate sacrifice for a Lakota woman in testifying and her reasons were honorable. Another already wrote, "If she was so in fear for her life, why would she even testify?" Well, it's not for the privilege of giving up a good career earning $50K+ a year in exchange for $42K in moving and security expenses.

It was a cutting insult that "those women and men, Indian, skins, breeds and in between watching the 'Intricate dance of Support for Anna Mae' better ask questions." Racism and innuendo are not appreciated in any form, and these words reek of the "controlling white woman syndrome!" It appears Ms. Claypoole failed to find the truth and we won't help her sell a book full of conspiracy idiocy. I think Ms. Claypoole's mind is working over-time since her name has never been mentioned by IWJ. Most of us, including our readers, had never even heard of her or the book she is promoting. And maybe that book is outdated and unmasked? We worry that Ms. Claypoole utilized the same attention to detail in the writing of her book as she did in her article reporting from the Arlo Looking Cloud trial, when she wrote that there were no American Indians on the jury. She did not even notice the presence of an Indian gentleman from the Rosebud, sitting there on the jury, plain as day. Perhaps she chose not to?

So, J.S. Dill has become a 'web god' on Indian issues? Jordan Dill is our web master, and the god we pray to is not Jordan Dill (for which he is probably very thankful). He's great at the job, and he posts what we ask him to post with speed and care… as he does with many other Indian sites. He is not responsible for the content of the IWJ site, he has no jurisdiction over our opinions, and he's a goodhearted man whose interest in the IWJ extends only to finding justice for Annie Mae, and others like her. As new information surfaces, Mr. Dill has no vested interest in withholding it – and he displays courage in changing his opinion publicly. We salute him.

I grew up on the Pine Ridge. I lived with my grandmother in the house behind the Holy Cross Episcopal Church. I attended OCS Middle School during 1973. In 1974, I saw an Indian shot dead by another Indian right across the street from our house. Within a few days I was pulled from class to speak with men in suits. Needless to say, my parents packed up and we moved to Texas. I didn't understand the AIM group until I was sent from Texas to Concho Indian School in Oklahoma. My art teacher explained AIM to me. I even remember when Anna Mae's body was identified; my art teacher had tears in her eyes when she told me. The Divide and Conquer theory we keep hearing about IWJ is not the case. We are neither Conquered nor Divided! If people really know us, they know the power of prayer and the movement of spirit gives us comfort in the truth.

Several AIM leaders liken themselves to Tasunka Witco-Crazy Horse and Tatanka Iyotanka-Sitting Bull. Yet, they have taken their visions and corrupted them. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull didn't use trust against the people to intimidate or control them. They didn't place themselves above the people. They didn't brag or demand respect or recognition. They fought to protect a way of life. They did it selflessly. They were true and loyal activists of the people. People like Anna Mae, Ingrid, and many others. Those who tasted sugar, coffee and felt Maza Ska-money in their hands betrayed them and the people. Both Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were taken prisoner and killed. They were murdered for what they believed in. They were murdered so the Indians who deceived them would not lose what they had established at the Fort and on the reservations. Sounds familiar doesn't it. Damn the irony!

Karen Testerman has written for and served as editor for The Lakota Times, The Lakota Nation Journal, Indian Country Today, and the Black Hills Peoples' News.

In the spirit of Anna Mae Pictou, Marley Shebala (Navajo/Zuni) — Spokeswoman-Indigenous Women for Justice — marleyshebala@nativeamerican.net

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