Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Who made the decision to kill Anna Mae?

Family members mourn at the gravesite of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Photo courtesy of Denise Pictou Maloney

Who gave the order to kill Anna Mae?
Blood is thicker than water
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY –– Unbeknownst to Nova Scotia Native Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, who sought refuge in a Denver home to await her “soul mate,” she had stumbled into a clique of Nawiziwin (jealous women) who would do anything to protect their own, even murder.

Anna Mae had come to South Dakota with Nogeeshik Aquash, a Canadian from Walpole Island, to join the resistance at Wounded Knee, the site where more than 300 Mnicoujou and Hunkpapa Lakota were massacred in December of 1890. The two were joined in a Native marriage ceremony performed by Lakota elder Wallace Black Elk.

However, Anna Mae would fall for the iconic leader of American Indian Movement, Dennis Banks, an Ojibwa Native from Minnesota, who led a resurgence of indigenous religion, culture and pride.

When Anna Mae became intimately involved with Banks, he was also involved with two other women, Angie “Begay” Janis and Darlene “Ka-Mook” Nichols, according to testimony in the trials of two men held responsible for her murder.

“There were hundreds of Anna Maes, just throwing themselves at the men. And every time Dennis and these guys got a different woman, the girls would think they were first lady,” Madonna Thunder Hawk told Eric Konigsberg for his April 25, 2014 New York Times Magazine article “Who Killed Anna Mae?”

However questions remain as to who the mastermind was behind the order to have Anna Mae executed for being an informant, with lips pointing to the leadership of AIM.

Shedding light on a possible answer to the decade’s old mystery is Robert Warrior, co-author of “Like a Hurricane,” a book about AIM’s early history who states that Banks’ union with Darlene “Ka-Mook” Nichols was considered an “alliance marriage.”

“A lot of people respected Dennis in the Sioux world, and that is hard for an Ojibwa to do,” Warrior, a former director of the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois said. “They were old foes.”

In November of 1975, after a shoot out in Washington, Aquash and Nichols are arrested for outstanding warrants, Aquash is sent to South Dakota and Nichols to Kansas.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Who gave the order to kill Anna Mae?

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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