Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Former FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph H. Trimbach Writes to Dr. Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian

The introduction and open letter dated 10-7-09 that follow were originally posted on Aim Myth Busters (10-12-09) and are re-posted here with permission. Today, John M. Trimbach, the son of Joseph H. Trimbach, followed up with a press release (10-13-09). The press release are commentary are in my next post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Letter asks the National Museum of the American Indian to Support Truthful Indian History and Exposes Leonard Peltier Fund Fraud

In a letter to the Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, former FBI Agent in Charge Joseph H. Trimbach asks for the Director's help in supporting truthful Native American history. The letter also raises questions about the legality of Leonard Peltier's legal defense funds. On April 28, 2008, Peltier's sister, Betty Ann Solano, filed articles of incorporation for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee. The fund was previously known as the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Peltier's funds are filed under nonprofit corporations in possible violation of IRS tax regulations and disclosure requirements. Peltier has thus far refused to publicly disclose his financial records.

October 7, 2009

Mr. Kevin Gover, Director
National Museum of the American Indian
PO Box 23473
Washington, DC 20026

Dear Mr. Gover,

Congratulations on the fifth anniversary of the National Museum of the American Indian. The museum showcases a masterful display of Indian culture and artistry and has become a wonderful addition to the Smithsonian. It has come to my attention, however, that the museum bookstore sells a book that falsifies Indian history by depicting a murderer as an Indian hero. Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse glorifies convicted killer Leonard Peltier and places him on a pedestal alongside the brave and noble Chief Crazy Horse. My account of what happened, American Indian Mafia, takes issue with this attempt to portray Peltier’s cowardice and evil as Indian heroism and virtue. I cite several Native Americans who honor the truth and who contributed to setting the historical record straight. Award-winning Native journalist Tim Giago wrote that American Indian Mafia “takes apart” In the Spirit of Crazy Horse “and exposes it for the fraud that it is. It is refreshing to finally hear the other side of the story.” Paul DeMain, editor of News from Indian Country, says that my book helps expose Peltier’s foggy alibis and false cry for human rights.

Mr. Gover, I was the FBI Agent in Charge when, on June 26, 1975, Peltier gunned down two of my Agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. After the men were injured and disarmed, Peltier executed both of them with his assault rifle. We know this because of the evidence presented at his trial and because Peltier later boasted about shooting 28-year-old Ron Williams in the face at point-blank range as he sat pleading for his life and trying to save Jack Coler, his injured partner. Peltier’s recent parole board concluded that he is undeserving of parole based on his behavior behind bars. I read a statement to Peltier at his July 28 hearing; and I can assure you that he remains defiant, manipulative, and utterly unrepentant.

Despite losing all his appeals, Peltier and his lawyers have fooled many people into believing that he was framed for the murders. Rather than accept responsibility for his crimes, Peltier exploits his Indian ancestry by sponsoring a fraudulent defense fund under the shelter of a tax-exempt organization. Over the last 30 years, Peltier has collected millions of dollars abusing the charitable instincts of people who care about genuine Indian suffering and hardship. Donors have no idea that this money is doled out to Peltier’s friends and supporters. Proceeds from the sale of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse also go directly to Peltier’s not-for-profit corporation, with no accountability.

Mr. Gover, the National Museum of the American Indian is a cultural gem that has enlightened and educated millions of visitors, but having Matthiessen’s book on display in your bookstore is a conspicuous blot on an otherwise fine collection of Indian literature. It is bad enough to invoke the spirit of Crazy Horse in defense of a murderer, but it is even worse to profit from this charade under the guise of authentic Indian history.

I am not in favor of censorship, but I believe you owe it to your patrons to present “both sides of the story.” Please consider making my historical account available in your bookstore so that people will have access to a fact-based rebuttal to Peltier’s lies. 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


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