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American Indian Oral History: Interview with James Wilson

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00:00:00 - Introduction to James Wilson and his Job

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Partial Transcript: - Richard W. Peterson (RP) Three, four, five, six. This is a tape that is being made in the office of Mr. James Wilson...




Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes his professional history and the specifics of his job as United States Magistrate

Keywords: American Indian; Magistrate; Rapid City, South Dakota; South Dakota

00:09:57 - Indian Reservations and Judicial Systems

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) All right, that's fine. Now, directing your attention, Jim, to the events of the last few years...



Segment Synopsis: Wilson speaks about a few of the reservations in South Dakota, and he explains the differences between the reservation and federal legal systems and how they operate.

Keywords: Cheyenne Reservation; Federal Legal System; Law; Legal System; Ogalala Sioux Tribe; Pine Ridge Reservation; Rosebud Reservation; Sioux; South Dakota; Tribal Council; Tribal Law; Wounded Knee

00:23:01 - Events Leading to Wounded Knee

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) ... Now, so we have this background. May I ask you now, based on your experience here of course, looking back over the several years, when did this matter of the,what did we call it, Wounded Knee Two?

Keywords: Alcatraz Island; BIA; Bureau of Indian Affairs; Clyde Bellecourt; Custer, South Dakota; Dennis Banks; John Whitefox; Mount Rushmore Occupation; Rapid City, South Dakota; Russell Means; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; South Dakota; Wounded Knee Two

00:31:08 - Preparation for Court Hearings

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) All right, now, when and how did you come on the scene now as US magistrate in this situation developing there in Wounded Knee?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson speaks about how he prepped the judicial system of South Dakota to handle the mass amount of cases that resulted from the Wounded Knee Occupation in 1971.

Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; Deadwood, South Dakota; Department of Justice; FBI; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Joe Spaniel; Magisrate; Missouri River; Pete McCabe; Rapid City, South Dakota; Richard Wilson; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; West River; Wounded Knee Two

00:44:58 - Wounded Knee Trials - Initial Hearings

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Partial Transcript: - (JW) Right. So when people would be arrested, they'd be brought from Wounded Knee, or Pine Ridge, sometimes a whole busload of them...



Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes the proceedings of the initial hearings and bail hearings for the Wounded Knee Trials.

Keywords: Bail Hearings; Judge Andrew Bogue; Judge Fred Nichol; Pine Ridge Reservation; Rapid City, South Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; South Dakota; Trials; United States Marshals; Wounded Knee Two

00:59:49 - Ethical Difficulties within the Trial

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Partial Transcript: - (JW) I get a call from Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee. And they'd say, they'd want to know what kind of bail are you going to set on this guy?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson talks about the experience of Russell Means trying to get another Magistrate to set his bail, and the ethical difficulties that went along with it and similar situations within the trail.

Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; Bail Hearings; Dennis Banks; Magistrates; Russell Means; Wounded Knee 2; Wounded Knee Legal Defense Offense Committee; Wounded Knee Two

01:10:46 - Court Proceedings - More Initial Hearings

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) I see yeah, okay. But in any case, so there were these religious groups that were quite interested--

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes the court proceedings and how they differed once the Wounded Knee Legal Defense Organization became involved with the case.

Keywords: Bail Hearings; Bail Reform Act; CBS Television; National Council of Churches; National Press; Press; Religious groups; Social Injustice; South Dakota; Wounded Knee 2; Wounded Knee Legal Defense Organization; Wounded Knee Trials; Wounded Knee Two

01:21:27 - Personalities and Prosecutions; Occupation of Wounded Knee

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Partial Transcript: (RP) Back over now, Jim, this period of time again, are there certain personalities that you recall?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes specific personalities that he remembers during the prosecutions. He also speaks a little about the specifics of the occupation of Wounded Knee.

Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; American Lutheran Church; Bail Reform Act; Dennis Banks; FBI; Federal Bureau of Inbvestigation; Federal Marshalls; George Tennyson; Indian Security Organization; John Whitefox; Kent Frizel; Marshall Grimm; Ray Abernathy; Red Fenwick; Reverend Boe; Richard Wilson; Russel Means; Sociologists; South Dakota; Stanley Holder; Wounded Knee; Wounded Knee Two

01:38:16 - Community Involvement, Opinions, and Leaders

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) Possible, Jim, to categorize, or at least gives some views on the attitudes here in Rapid City at the time this was going on. Now, you're speaking now of the community, you tell me about 40,000 people. Is there a fairly sizable Indian population here?



Segment Synopsis: Wilson speaks about the people involved with these cases, including community members of the reservations and their opinions on Wounded Knee, and the leaders and leader groups of the Wounded Knee occupation.

Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; American Indians; BIA; Bureau of Indian Affairs; Dennis Banks; Indian Reorganization Act; Pedro Bissonette; Pierre, South Dakota; Rapid City, South Dakota; Russell Means; Wounded Knee 2; Wounded Knee Trials; Wounded Knee Two

01:48:06 - Wilson's Personal Life; End of the Case; Effects of the Case

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) To come, for a moment here, to something else, and back to that period of time again, and then we'll move on to the present. What was some of your personal considerations, if I may ask, during this period as magistrate?


Keywords: AIM; American Indian Movement; American Indians; Art Lacroix; Dennis Banks; Guns; Magistrate; Ogalala Sioux; Personal Life; Pine Ridge Reservation; Safety; Sioux; Sioux Indian; Time Magazine; Violence

02:03:48 - Future of Indians in the United States

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Partial Transcript: - (RP) Can you, in your view of it, Jim, can you give some ideas of what you think, based on your experience and your really quite close exposure to the legal process here, as far as the federal courts are concerned? Do you have some kind of a prediction of the future of the Indian, maybe, in this country? That's awfully broad, but do you have some ideas? Do you have some thoughts?


Segment Synopsis: Wilson gives his final thoughts on the effects and implications of the Wounded Knee incident and trials. He concludes that it did not help and ultimately hurt the American Indian cause.

Keywords: American Indian; Banks; Civil Rights Commission; Credit; Criminal Activity; Loans; Race; Racists; Rapid City, South Dakota; Reservations; Safety; Security; Treaty of 1868; Violence; Wounded Knee 2; Wounded Knee Trials; Wounded Knee Two