AIM activist, Leonard Peltier defender Robert Robideau dies

Friday, February 20, 2009

Robert E. "Bob" Robideau, an Ashinaabe activist who was acquitted of killing two FBI agents and who was involved in the Leonard Peltier case, died on Tuesday February 16 after suffering seizures at his home in Barcelona, Spain, Robideau's family and Spanish authorities say. He was 61-years-old. Robideau had shrapnel in his head, UPI reports, from a 1975 incident in which ammunition in his car exploded.

Robideau had been living and working in Barcelona as director of the American Indian Movement museum, after two stints as National-International Director for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Robideau, Leonard Peltier, and Darelle "Dino" Butler were charged together for the shooting deaths of FBI Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams in South Dakota; the jury trying Robideau and Butler ruled that the killings had been in self-defense, but Peltier, who had fled the country, was tried separately and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Robert Robideau was born on November 11, 1946, a member of the Turtle Mountain and White Earth Ojibwa tribes and descendant of the chiefs Obe-quod and Ke-che-ha-kuk-kung-ay-we-ne-nee.

The Colorado American Indian Movement released a statement on Robideau's passing, saying, "Bob was a great role model for AIM members everywhere. He epitomized what it was to be a member of AIM, not through posturing, not through rhetoric, but in action. He put his life on the line, and he was relentless in his defense of Indian people everywhere. He will be very deeply missed, and will always remembered".

After joining the American Indian Movement in 1973, Robideau, along with Ward Churchill and Russell Means, split from Vernon Bellecourt's movement in 1993 and established the Autonomous American Indian Moment. Following his 1976 acquittal and Peltier's 1977 conviction for the FBI agent murders, Robideau became involved in work to free Peltier, but split from Peltier's defense team in 2004 over differences of opinion in the Anna Mae Aquash case. Robideau also appeared in the documentary Incident at Oglala, discussing the shootings.

Robideau had degrees in anthropology from Portland State University and arts from the Institute of Native American Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is survived by his wife Pilar and his two sons, Michael and Bobby.