FBI author of Pine Ridge list promoted
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FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2002

The FBI official who authored a report which explained away the deaths of dozens of American Indians during the 1970s has been promoted.

Chip Burrus will be the special agent in charge at the Salt Lake City FBI division. The promotion came from FBI Director Robert Mueller.

In July 2000, Burrus was working at the Minneapolis division where he worked on the so-called Pine Ridge death report. The report purported to show the Native community that the FBI investigated circumstances of people killed on or near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The report, distributed shortly after the 25th anniversary of a shootout at Pine Ridge that resulted in the killing of two FBI agents, said most of the deaths were not murders as American Indian Movement activists and others claims. It discounted notions that the FBI was letting unsolved crimes go unnoticed.

"The FBI got a definitive list of people who were supposedly murdered on Pine Ridge. We took that, and tried to put out the truth," Burrus told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader at the time.

Attorneys for Leonard Peltier, convicted for murdering the agents, said Burrus once called AIM a "group of burglars and thugs."

Burrus also criticized the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for its work investigating how Native Americans are treated by the justice system in South Dakota. "A lot of the research they did is just wafer-thin," the AP reported him as saying.

In public hearings held in the state, Mary Frances Berry, the commission chair, said Burrus and the FBI were trying to brush off the feelings of tribal members. She accused them of saying everything was ok.

At the Minneapolis division, Burrus was assistant special agent in charge of Indian Country. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, he received a special FBI award for his work on the death list.

Get the Story:
Burrus to Head FBI in Salt Lake City (The Salt Lake Tribune 4/12)

Related Stories:
FBI releases Pine Ridge report (7/11)
FBI 'Death List' (7/11)