Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FBI Chief to Indian Museum: Support Truthful Native American History

Photo of Peter Matthiessen, author

"I just want Director Gover to know that there is only one side to the story: the factual side...I hope you will take the occasion of the museum's gala celebration to allow me, as well as the Indian witnesses in American Indian Mafia, the opportunity to counter Peter Matthiessen's unconscionable depiction of Leonard Peltier as an Indian hero."---Joseph H. Trimbach, former Special Agent in Charge, FBI (10-7-09)

Today, John M. Trimbach issued a press release (10-13-09) that criticizes Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse for its "unconscionable depiction of Leonard Peltier as an Indian hero." The press release follows a letter (10-7-09) sent to Dr. Kevin Gover, the Director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

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In a letter to the Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, former FBI Agent in Charge Joseph H. Trimbach writes that a book sold in the museum's bookstore denigrates Native American history by depicting a murderer as a Native American leader. The book, Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, exonerates convicted killer Leonard Peltier, who is now serving life sentences for the 1975 murders of two FBI Agents. The letter, dated October 7, 2009, to Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee, Comanche) coincides with the Smithsonian's celebration of the museum's five-year anniversary.

Trimbach contends that Matthiessen's book falsifies Indian history and glorifies Peltier by comparing him to Chief Crazy Horse. Trimbach writes that his 2007 book, American Indian Mafia, takes issue with attempts to "portray Peltier's cowardice and evil as Indian heroism and virtue." Native journalist Tim Giago wrote that Trimbach's book exposes In the Spirit of Crazy Horse as a "fraud." Native newspaper publisher Paul DeMain says that Mafia helps expose Peltier's "false cry for human rights."

Peltier was convicted in 1977 of the execution-style murders of Ron Williams and Jack Coler, two young Agents under Trimbach's supervision. Peltier's 2009 parole board concluded that he is undeserving of parole and that releasing him would promote disrespect for the law. The board cited infractions committed by Peltier behind bars, including his armed escape from Lompoc prison in 1979, which resulted in the shooting death of another escapee. Peltier refuses to release his score sheet from his July 28 parole hearing, a document that lists other reasons why the board found against him. Trimbach read a statement to Peltier at his hearing and told him that the issue of his guilt was settled over 30 years ago and that accepting responsibility for his crimes and asking for forgiveness constitute his only real chance for parole. Peltier has lost all of his appeals.

Following Peltier's recent hearing, held at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, his lawyer Eric Seitz met with supporters outside the prison. Seitz complained that previous boards have been unyielding in their insistence on good behavior and contrition before considering parole for his client. "It's just a very wooden position," said Seitz. "Kill an FBI Agent–live the rest of your life in prison." Trimbach noted Seitz's comments and added, "I wonder how the widows of other murdered law enforcement officers would feel if their husbands' remorseless killers were freed. The idea that keeping unrepentant murderers behind bars is a 'wooden position' is simply asinine."

For the last 30 years, Peltier has collected money from people all over the world who believe that he was unjustly convicted of the murders. Some estimates put the amount at over a hundred million dollars. In his letter to Director Gover, Trimbach says that Peltier has parlayed his Indian ancestry into a criminal enterprise by collecting money from unsuspecting donors under false pretense. The funds are supposed to be used for Peltier's defense and to "raise awareness" but apparently go to his friends and supporters. Trimbach alleges that the fund exists under tax-exempt status in violation of IRS regulations and reporting requirements. "To make matters worse," Trimbach writes, "proceeds from the sale of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse go directly to Peltier's not-for-profit corporation, with no accountability." Trimbach believes that both Peltier and Matthiessen are aware of the misappropriation.

"It sickens me to think of all that money going to waste when it could have been used to alleviate genuine hardship on the reservation," says Trimbach. He believes Director Gover owes it to his patrons to have the museum bookstore carry American Indian Mafia to refute "Peltier's lies." Trimbach stops short of calling for an outright ban on Matthiessen's book, saying he is not in favor or censorship. "I just want Director Gover to know that there is only one side to the story: the factual side." Trimbach concluded his letter, "I hope you will take the occasion of the museum's gala celebration to allow me, as well as the Indian witnesses in American Indian Mafia, the opportunity to counter Peter Matthiessen's unconscionable depiction of Leonard Peltier as an Indian hero."

For more information, please visit American Indian Mafia.

John M. Trimbach
Trimbach & Associates, Inc.
Atlanta
770-883-5086


First Url: Book Synopsis

Second Url: AIM Myth Busters

Book Title: American Indian Mafia, An FBI Agent's True Story About Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, and the American Indian Movement (AIM)

Journalists - Click here for a Review Copy of American Indian Mafia, An FBI Agent's True Story About Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, and the American Indian Movement (AIM)

Order American Indian Mafia, An FBI Agent's True Story About Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, and the American Indian Movement (AIM) from Barnes and Nobles

Contact John M. Trimbach

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