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Richard A. "Dick" Wilson (April 29, 1934 - January 31, 1990) was the Oglala tribal chairman on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakotamarker from 1972 - 1976.

The 1992 documentary film Incident at Oglala by Michael Apted claims that Wilson was a corrupt leader who embezzled funds given by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and gave high-paying posts to family members and others loyal to his regime. The film also suggests illegally used tribal funds to employ self-described Goon (Guardians Of the Oglala Nation) squads to enforce his authority and suppress dissent by means of intimidation, drive-by shootings, and murder.

The film points out that as many as 50 members of Pine Ridge Indian reservation were killed during this period of time. One member of the goon squad, Duane Brewer, stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker (FBI) assisted them, in one case providing armor-piercing ammunition.

Wilson initially supported AIM until they looted the BIA building in Washington, D.C. in 1972, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. After that incident, during which Indian land deeds were lost and destroyed, Wilson warned Means not to bring the violence back home.

Wilson and his family, under death threats from AIM, were placed under protective custody on February 23, 1973, four days before the takeover of the village.

During Wilson's tenure, on June 26, 1975, two FBI Special Agents, Ronald A. Williams and Jack R. Coler, were killed in a shootout with Native Americans on Pine Ridge. Apted argues in Incident at Oglala that, with the assistance of the FBI, who had been authorized by the federal government to engage the American Indian Movement in "paramilitary activity," Wilson created a climate of fear in which the Indians on the reservation felt compelled to defend themselves from armed intruders, and that both Wilson and the FBI were responsible for the shootout.

Of the four members of the American Indian Movement who were indicted for murdering the agents, two were acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Charges were dropped on a third and Leonard Peltier was convicted after the court refused to allow evidence used to acquit the first two into his court.

Within the tribe, the Oglalas attempted to impeach Wilson, however their attempt failed as Wilson himself presided over his impeachment. Wilson also had a particular hatred of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and one of its leaders Russell Means due to the threat of action by AIM against the corrupt Wilson government.

Wilson died at Rapid City Regional Hospital. His last words to Lakota Times editor and frequent adversary Tim Giago were, "When you write about me in your newspaper just say that everything I did in my life was for my people. I did what I thought was right."


  • Apted, Michael. Incident at Oglala. Documentary film. Narr. Robert Redford. Miramax, USA, 1992.
  • Smith, Paul Chaat, and Robert Allen Warrior. Like a Hurricane : The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee. New York: New P, The, 1997.

External links

Tim Giago. "Whatever Happened to the GOONS?" Huffington Post, September 16, 2007

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