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Arlo Looking Cloud

arlo looking cloud, arlo looking cloud released from prison
Arlo Looking Cloud born Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud; March 25, 1954 was a Native American activist He is perhaps best known for his involvement with the murder of fellow American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Aquash


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Legal History
    • 31 Murder of Anna Mae Aquash
    • 32 Arrest
      • 321 United States v Looking Cloud
      • 322 Appeal
      • 323 Plea Deal
  • 4 Legacy
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Early lifeedit

Looking Cloud is a Lakota Sioux who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation7


Legal Historyedit

Murder of Anna Mae Aquashedit

Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was a female activist within the ranks of the American Indian Movement On 12 December 1975, Looking Cloud, along with Theda Nelson Clarke and John "John Boy Patton" Graham, force Aquash into the back of a car and drive her to a remote part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where Aquash is shot execution style in the back of the head and left to die8 Her body was discovered on 24 February 19769 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at the bottom of a ravine located in close proximity to an isolated highway10

Aquash was revealed to have been shot dead; the muzzle of the gun had been pressed into the back of her neck, as the autopsy revealed11 The coroner's report indicated that in addition to the fatal gunshot wound, exposure contributed to the death of Aquash12


On 27 March 2003, Looking Cloud, who was a 49-year-old homeless man, was seen walking down Colfax Avenue by Denver police detective, Abe Alonzo4 Looking Cloud was subsequently arrested on a warrant issued by federal authorities in South Dakota, in which Looking Cloud and another man were accused of shooting Pictou-Aquash during a kidnapping in December 1975 near Wanblee, South Dakota13

United States v Looking Cloudedit

Darlene Nichols testified that Leonard Peltier, an AIM activist who was convicted of killing two FBI agents in the Jumping Bull Compound Shootout14 officially designated RESMURS by the FBI,15 told her and Aquash that he killed two FBI agents during a June 1975 shootout known as the Jumping Bull Compound Shootout at a Pine Ridge ranch According to Ecoffey's testimony, “He said the expletive was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway"16 According to Nichols-Ecoffey, she, along with Leonard Peltier, her sisters Bernie Nichols-Lafferty17 and Barbara Robideau,18 then-husband Dennis Banks19 and others were riding in a recreational vehicle lent to the American Indian Movement by the Hollywood actor Marlon Brando when Peltier recounted this event20 Nichols also testified to how she had heard Peltier say he thought Aquash was a snitch21

During the trial, Nichols testified as to several incidents of violence involving the American Indian Movement Three of these incidents, The Custer Courthouse Riot Incident which involved several hundred people, the seventy-one day occupation of Wounded Knee, and a shoot-out near her home which killed two FBI agents22 Nichol also discussed suspicions nearly twenty members of the American Indian Movement had of Aquash being an informant, or were at least acquainted with the rumor22 Nichols also testified that several members, one of whom had already threatened Aquash's life because he suspected she was an informant, took Aquash away for weeks to "watch her," explaining that was constantly under the surveillance of the American Indian Movement, was not allowed to go anywhere alone, and was not permitted to go home despite her requests to do so22 Mathalene White Bear, another former member of the American Indian Movement who provided shelter to Aquash in 1975, testified that Aquash believed her life was in danger as early as September of that year23 Darlene Nichols testified that Leonard Crow Dog and Leonard Peltier thought Aquash was an informant, and that Nichols, her daughter, and Dennis Banks, heard Peltier say he thought Aquash was an informant22

For his involvement in the murder of Aquash, Looking Cloud confessed that he drove Aquash from Denver to Rapid City and then to the location where Aquash was murdered; however, he alleged that he knew nothing of the plan to execute Aquash, and that it was AIM member John Graham, alias John Boy Patton,24 who shot Aquash25

Richard Two Elk would later provide testimony in the federal trial involving the murder of activist Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash Two Elk provided testimony which indicated that Arlo Looking Cloud contacted him around the Autumn of 1994, asking for advice on how to respond to authorities who were delving deeper into the mystery of Aquash's murder, in Two Elk stated that Looking Cloud admitted to being involved in the case26 Two Elk stated that believed his adopted brother was involved in the murder of Anna Mae and that over the years, Looking Cloud was only "acting on orders"27

In February 2004, after a federal jury consisting of 7 women and 5 men deliberated for seven hours, they convicted Arlo Looking Cloud in the 1975 execution-style slaying of Anna Mae Aquash2829


In 2005, Looking Cloud appealed the verdict to the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was struck down and his mandatory life prison term life-sentence was upheld and affirmed22

Plea Dealedit

In August 2011, US District Judge Lawrence Piersol signed an order which reduced Looking Cloud's original life-sentence term to 20 years in exchange for previous testimony given to state prosecutors during December 2010 against co-conspirator John Graham3031 Looking Cloud's testimony provided further insight into the murder of Aquash, with Looking Cloud alleging that he stood nearby while Graham shot Aquash3132


The court proceedings against Looking Cloud have left lingering divisions There are some factions who believe that Looking Cloud was innocent According to Russell Means, American Indian Movement founder and member, racism was at the heart the federal jury conviction of Looking Cloud He was quoted as saying, "Racism continues Our culture is disregarded and not included, and one of the most pathetic men in the city of Denver is given the sole responsibility for the murder ordered by a leader of the American Indian Movement I'm just thoroughly disgusted and supremely disappointed"33

Looking Cloud alleges he was given alcohol and heroin prior to having a confession "coerced" out of him34

On 28 April 2005, in a handwritten letter, Looking Cloud alleged that his trial attorney, Timothy Rensch, conspired with Bruce Ellison, an attorney for Leonard Peltier According to Looking Cloud, "I received a letter informing me that Vernon B Bellecourt provided all my legal material in my case to Laliberte Graham's attorney in Canada, apparently getting it from Gilbert Arlo's appeal attorney And I read Vernon and Gilbert go way back And how hard Rensch worked to make sure Candy Hamilton couldn't mention Bruce Ellison's name Rensch, his former law partner Leech and Ellison go way back"35 According to Barry Bacharach, an attorney for Peltier, the testimony used to convict Looking Cloud was not based on proof or evidence of Looking Cloud for wrongdoing, but based on testimony which focused primarily on leaders and prominent activists within the American Indian Movement, Peltier included36

Similarly, Looking Cloud's court-appointed attorney, Timothy Rensch, was criticized for not putting a better defense together for Looking Cloud37 In his appeal for a new trial, Looking Cloud also included in his appeal a new attorney, but it was also denied38

And despite Looking Cloud's plea bargain which involved exchanging testimony against John Graham, the Graham Defense Committee indicated that it would help Looking Cloud form a legal appeals team According to a representative from the Graham Defense Committee, in addition to Looking Cloud's conviction being based on a lack of forensic evidence, they also indicated that, "Yet the Graham Defense committee will help form a legal appeals team for Looking Cloud Why help him with he implicated John We don't believe he intended to implicate John"37

See alsoedit

  • American Indian Movement
  • Wounded Knee incident
  • John Graham
  • Theda Nelson Clarke
  • Darlene Nichols
  • Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash


  1. ^ "Interview of Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud" JFAMR 27 March 2003 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  2. ^ "Former AIM activist reveals allegations in Anna Mae Aquash's murder" Dick Shovel Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  3. ^ "Interview with Richard Two Elk about Arlo Looking Cloud and AIM" Indian Country News 16 June 2000 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  4. ^ a b "Russ Means" 16 December 2003 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  5. ^ "Russ Means holds press conference on Annie Mae's murder 11-3-99" Indian Country News Archived from the original on 4 March 2016 Retrieved 15 August 2016 
  6. ^ Leahy, Todd 4 May 2012 Historical Dictionary of Native American Movements Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press p 21 ISBN 978-0810857735 Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  7. ^ "Second Man Is Wanted in 1970s Slaying of an Indian Activist" Los Angeles Times 4 April 2004 Retrieved 15 August 2016 
  8. ^ "Why Was Anna Mae Aquash Really Murdered" Legend of Pine Ridge 28 July 2008 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  9. ^ "What is the Truth About the Murder of Anna Mae" The Huffington Post 27 August 2007 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  10. ^ "What is the Truth About the Murder of Anna Mae" First Nation's Drums 26 December 2000 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  11. ^ "NATIVE_NEWS: ANNA MAE: A Badlands trail of secrets and murder" Mail Archives 7 August 1999 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  12. ^ Sparrow, CJ 22 June 2013 "Who killed Anna Mae Aquash and who cares anyway" Occupirate Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  13. ^ Mendez, Deborah 3 April 2003 "Man Held in Decades-old Slaying of American Indian Activist" Dick Shovel Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  14. ^ "Quick Facts· Case of Leonard Peltier" Free Leonard Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  15. ^ "RESMURS Case Reservation Murders" FBI Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  16. ^ Merchant, Norman 8 December 2010 "Prosecution rests in 1975 AIM slaying trial" Native Times Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  17. ^ "Leonard Peltier" Ani-Kutani Retrieved 6 March 2016 
  18. ^ Banks, Dennis 3 December 2010 "Testimony of Witness testifies FBI agent threatened Aquash's life" JFAMR Retrieved 6 March 2016 
  19. ^ DeMain, Paul 23 February 2004 "Jury convicts man in 1975 murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash of Being Party to 1st Degree Murder" JFAMR Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  20. ^ Cashman, Ray 21 September 2011 The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press p 229 ISBN 978-0253223739 Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  21. ^ Kolpack, Dave 12 April 2010 "Trial set in 1975 killing of AIM activist in SD" Journal Star Retrieved 6 March 2016 
  22. ^ a b c d e "419 F 3d 781 - United States of America v Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud" OpenJurist Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  23. ^ "United States Court of Appeals,Eighth Circuit UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v Fritz Arlo LOOKING CLOUD, Defendant-Appellant No 04-2173 Decided: August 19, 2005" Case Law Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  24. ^ "Justice Delayed for Murdered Mi'kmaq Woman Annie Mae Pictou Aquash 32-year-old Murder Trial Delayed" JFAMR Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  25. ^ "Leonard Peltier's Reaction to Kamook & Arlo Looking Cloud Trial" Freedom Archives 10 February 2004 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  26. ^ "Testimony of Richard Two Elk in the Trial of Arlo Looking Cloud" JFAMR Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  27. ^ "Former AIM activist reveals allegations in Anna Mae Aquash's murder" Dick Shovel Retrieved 16 August 2014 
  28. ^ "21st-century Developments" Sites by Dawn Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  29. ^ Walker, Carson "Jury convicts Looking Cloud in 1975 murder" Dick Shovel Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  30. ^ Lammers, Dirk 26 September 2011 "Denver Man's Sentence Reduced In 1975 AIM Slaying" Huffington Post Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  31. ^ a b "Looking Cloud has sentence reduced in Aquash murder case" Indian Country News October 2011 Retrieved 7 March 2016 
  32. ^ "Denver man's sentence reduced in 1975 AIM slaying" The Denver Post 26 September 2011 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  33. ^ "Arlo Looking Cloud Given Heroin Before So-Called Video Confession" Rapid City Journal 6 February 2004 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  34. ^ "Arlo Looking Cloud Given Heroin Before So-Called Video Confession" BSNorrell 6 July 2007 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  35. ^ Robideau, Robert July 2007 "JOHN TRUDELL, A PROFILE OF COWARDICE AN FBI INFORMANT COVERS HIS TRACKS IN THE MURDER OF A" BSNorrell Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  36. ^ "The Trial and Conviction of Arlo Looking Cloud in the Murder of Anna Mae Aquash" BSNorrell 3 August 2004 Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  37. ^ a b Melmer, David 12 February 2004 "Looking Cloud trial raises questions" Indianz Retrieved 16 August 2016 
  38. ^ "Commentary: Racist Trial for Aquash murder" Indianz 10 March 2004 Retrieved 16 August 2016 

External linksedit

  • Friends and Supporters of Arlo Looking Cloud

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