June 26 - 1975 - The Pine Ridge Shootout
FBI Agents Jack Coler and Richard Williams entered the Pine Ridge Reservation to track down a robbery suspect. The Pine Ridge Reservation was not a normal Indian reservation in 1976. Since 1972 and the election of Dick Wilson to the post of President of the Oglala Sioux, there had been open armed conflict on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Most famously, it was the site of the Wounded Knee Incident where Federal authorities supporting Wilson engaged in a standoff with Oglala protesters. Yet the events of June 26, 1976 were of a different beast. As soon as Coler and Williams saw the truck they were looking for, they had massive amounts of rifle fire come on them. After telling dispatch they needed backup, Williams and Coler were quickly killed. Federal agents killed a man named Jimmy Stuntz, who was found wearing Coler's jacket. Eventually, the investigation focused on Leonard Peltier, who was found with a variety of weapons, including those of Williams and Coler. Although Peltier would be found guilty of their murder in a Federal trial, his case would become one of the most celebrated inmates in Federal prison.