"5. Janklow sues over "In The Spirit of Crazy Horse", strengthens 1st amendment rights
I was a sophomore at Lead High School when my Indian Studies teacher encouraged me to do my quarterly report on the release of the book "In The Spirit of Crazy Horse."
The just released book focused on the execution-style shooting at the Jumping Bull Ranch on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the eventual conviction of AIM enforcer Leonard Peltier for the crime.
The book and the ensuing controversy over its contents would shape my views of Indian Country and the stories that came from it and about it for years. That is, there were a lot of untold stories from Indian Country, and while the book covered a lot of them, it also was tough to determine what was true and what wasn't. Much like the conflict that tore the reservation apart in the 1970s, it's hard to be an impartial judge of the things that happened before and after.
While the book focused on Peltier -- it helped launch the Free Peltier movement -- it also spends some time on first Attorney General Bill Janklow and then Gov. Bill Janklow. The portrait it paints is highly unflattering. In addition to depicting him as a racist whose firebrand actions created tumult on the reservation, it went as far to implicate him and the rape and later death of Jancita Eagle Deer.
Janklow wasted little time in suing anybody who had anything to do with the book. Author Peter Matthiesen, his publishing company, anybody who carried the book in their store, nobody was spared.
The funny thing is, when I did my report on the book, it couldn't be found in the Northern Hills so I had to get it from the state libarary. And I did.
Eventually, the lawsuits were all dismissed, and some even said Janklow's actions further strengthened First Amendment rights. Heck, that alone should make him a patron saint among journalists. When was the last time a powerful politician has done anything for the First Amendment?"
Get the Story:
The Fives by Todd Williams: Why the media misses Bill Janklow and five of his most controversial legacies
(The Rapid City Journal 9/29)
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