Arrest finally made in the death of Native American activist Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Federal agents arrested a man in the slaying of an American Indian Movement activist whose frozen body was found on a reservation more than a quarter-century ago.

Arlo Looking Cloud, 49, was arrested Monday in Denver and pleaded innocent to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, according to U.S. Attorney James McMahon in Sioux Falls.


Aquash, 30, disappeared in late 1975 from a home where she had been staying in Denver. Her frozen body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found in February 1976 at the Pine Ridge reservation, about 90 miles east of Rapid City.

The indictment of Looking Cloud remained sealed. McMahon said Wednesday he could not comment on the case, including on questions of why charges weren’t filed sooner or whether more arrests are possible.

Aquash, a member of Canada’s Mi’kmaq Tribe, was among the Indian militants who occupied the village of Wounded Knee in a 71-day standoff with federal authorities in 1973.

Some speculated she was killed by AIM members because she knew some of them were government spies, while others said Aquash was killed because she herself was an informant. Federal authorities have repeatedly denied any involvement.

She disappeared from the Denver home of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood.

“She had been brought to my house as a place of refuge,” Yellow Wood said in January. “To hide, basically. That’s about all I can say.”

American Indians have said for years that federal investigators and prosecutors knew who kidnapped and killed Aquash. Several grand juries had investigated the case over the years.

A hearing was planned for Thursday to determine whether Looking Cloud should be brought to South Dakota to face charges. 

If convicted, he would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

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AUTHOR: Carson Walker, Associated Press
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press


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