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For the children in exile


The Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition is a Grass Roots Organization. We are in the process of slowly developing a strong website, and may make some mistakes but will work to correct them. We will be making adjustments as time goes on.

DLN Issues

Demand for Investigation of Rape and Murder of Jancita Eagle Deer

For more on Janklow see the DLN Janklow Watch section

Jancita Eagle Deer


From Steve Hendricks', The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the STruggle for the Soul of Indian Country:

"The rules that govern the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court say that when a member is disbarred from another court, he or she is, ipso facto, disbarred from the Supreme Court. After Janklow was elected to Congress in 2002, a law student named David Harris who had spent part of his childhood on the Rosebud Reservation sent the Supreme Court a copy of Judge Gonzalez's order disbarring Janklow from tribal court. Harris told the justices that, given the rules of the bar, they had to disbar the congressman. The court ignored him.

"I called the court to ask why. A spokeswoman told me that for a member of the Supreme Court bar to be expelled, the lower court making the initial disbarment had to request the Supreme Court do the same. In this case, the tribal court had not done so, so the Supreme Court would not disbar Janklow. The spokeswoman also said that the lower court had to be highest court in its jurisdiction, which a tribal court was not. I confessed my puzzlement. I had a copy of the rules of the Supreme Court bar before me, and nowhere could I find the requirements she was citing. There followed much ummminng and ahhhing from her end of the line, until finally she said that requirements were not actually written in the rules; they were just sort of implied..."

..."A lone exception to the media blackout was a columnist for the Washington Post named Richard Leiby. Leiby had become interested in the story after talking to law student David Harris, and in the course of his research he received a bootleg audiotape of the testimony Jancita Eagle Deer gave before Judge Gonzalez in 1974. Gonzalez, now retired, has the master tape, but his fear of Janklow is such that he will not distribute copies. He is wont to offer reporters to listen to it in person, only to rescind the offer, presumably in fright, after they have traveled considerable distance to do so. Leiby was deeply moved by Eagle Deer's testimony.

" 'It was devastating,' he said, 'utterly convincing. You cannot listen to her without getting chills and feeling she is telling the absolute truth.'

"He wrote a column to this effect, supported by evidence from my investigation, and gave it to his editors, who spiked it. As it happened, the Washington Post company owned Newsweek, and Janklow's suit against the magazine two decades earlier had not faded from corporate memory. The conglomerate did not care to court another lawsuit over so 'minor' an event by so 'minor' a politician."

12/31/02 Letter from the Attorney General of Nebraska -- Page 1 -- Page 2

1/4/03 Letter to Senator Edward M. Kennedy

1/4/03 Letter to former Vice-President Walter Mondale

1/4/03 Supreme Court of the United States Rule 8.1 Dictates Suspension of William Janklow from the Supreme Court Bar -- Fax to Clerk Suter

8/18/03 CNN: Janklow's Driving Record Scrutinized after Crash

8/19/03 Washington Post: Rep. Janklow Probed in Fatal Crash

8/19/03 Minneapolis Star Tribune - Coroner Says Congressman Failed to Stop before Fatal Crash

8/19/03 USA Today - Prosecutor: Janklow Apparently Ran Stop Sign Before Crash

8/25/03 Counterpunch - Killer on the Road: Who Killed Jancita Eagle Deer?

8/27/03 KSFY Dakota First News - Calls for Janklow's Resignation

The following reproduced letter was written to The Honorable John D. Ashcroft Attorney General of the United States, Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530, on January 2, 2003:

Dear General Ashcroft,

I graduated from Yale College in 2000 and matriculated at Northwestern University School of Law last fall. I co-authored the first study of the number of women in National Institutes of Health cardiac trials, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 17, 2000. I am founding a charity to combat terrorism, Biometrics Council of which I am President, and [currently attend University of Nebraska Law School.] The statements that follow do not reflect the views of my colleagues.

I am enclosing evidence relating to the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer by William Janklow on January 13, 1967 within the boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation for which he was disbarred in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court on October 31, 1974 by Judge Mario Gonzalez. A summary of the evidence is as follows:

  • Ms. Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl was struck by an oncoming car near Aurora, Nebraska while outside of a vehicle on April 4, 1975 and died. This was hundreds of miles away from where she lived, and only a few months after she had testified in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court that she was raped at gunpoint by William Janklow. At the time, Mr. Janklow was undergoing Senate confirmation as a Board Member for Legal Services Corporation, and in this context, the allegations were raised. In the absence of her testimony, the Senate committee was impaired, which led to claims of insufficient evidence - a fact that has been much touted by Janklow as the imprimatur of his innocence. No analysis was done on the admissibility of her prior in-court testimony - whether it bore adequate indicia of reliability since it was not subject to cross-examination. Mr. Janklow well-knows that absolution does not come at the hand of a Senate inquiry, but by a jury of his peers, but that requires a prosecutor to care about the sanctity of a Lakota child.
  • In his disbarment order of October 31, 1974, Judge Gonzalez writes that Ms. Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl testified under obvious emotional difficulty that she had been raped by William Janklow, and that he threatened her life with a gun. Portions of her testimony were corroborated by her high school guidance counselor (Kaye Lord) (1), her foster parents, a rape examination, and a BIA investigator.
  • Eric Sheldahl, the divorced husband of Jancita Eagle Deer Sheldahl, executed an affidavit in connection with the probate hearing for her estate. The affidavit is referenced in a letter from United States Department of Interior Administrative Law Judge Frederick W. Lambrecht to an administrator of the Wagner Service Unit of the Indian Health Service on August 30, 1976 and on January 21, 1977. According to Judge Lambrecht, the affidavit states that Jancita Eagle Deer was raped on January 13, 1967.
  • In a polygraph, Ms. Eagle Deer was too emotional to be tested when she was asked if she was raped by William Janklow and if he threatened to kill her.
  • In an affidavit executed in the context of Janklow v. Viking Press, Dr. Kent Bergh, formerly of Indian Health Service, states that he viewed the medical record of Jancita Eagle Deer and that it identified Janklow as the alleged assailant. I spoke with Dr. Bergh independently on December 22, 2002, who confirmed his prior affidavit.
  • A subpoena was granted by Judge Gonzalez in connection with the disbarment hearing of Janklow for the BIA investigative record of the rape. The BIA Aberdeen Area Director, Harley Zephier, directed BIA Officer Norman Bear not to honor the subpoena on the grounds of confidentiality and privilege in a telegram dated October 30, 1974, 4:15 pm.

I have additional recently executed affidavits, which are stored in a bank vault and with friends of mine in the media and legal academy, and will be turned over to your office, provided guarantees can be made by you for the witnesses' safety.

In her boarding school admission papers, Mr. Janklow signs as Ms. Eagle Deer's guardian, and in a letter dated September 22, 1983, Mr. Janklow, writing on his Gubernatorial stationary, instructs Mr. Larry Parker of the Rosebud Boarding School to "send [Mr. Janklow] copies of any and all records relating to the residence of Jancita Eagle Deer in the boarding school during the period from 1966-1969 which reflect actions taken by me as her guardian, including any admission forms."

Depending on the nature of this guardianship, it may constitute consanguinity and implicate the South Dakota incest statute in a prosecution, which would apply due to the Assimilative Crimes Act (See United States v. Renville, 779 F.2d 430) in addition to federal law. (2) (3)

In 1918, Justice Whiting, writing for the Supreme Court of South Dakota, held: "The welfare of society requires that the law recognize the uncorroborated testimony of a ravished woman as sufficient to warrant a conviction for the crime of rape or of assault with intent to commit rape." (State v. Schultz, 41 S.D. 184; 169 N.W. 547). The standard for incest is similar, as is rape at federal law.

The fact that Ms. Eagle Deer had offered such testimony in the context of a tribal disbarment proceeding, and that portions of it were corroborated by an examination hours after the incident at the Rosebud Service Unit of Indian Health Service; the guidance counselor of the Rosebud Boarding School; the foster parents of the alleged victim, and a rape investigation conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at which the alleged perpetrator was present and made threats, leads me to believe that we are well-beyond the islet of uncorroborated testimony of a ravished woman.

The BIA's decision not to comply with the Tribal Court subpoena for the documents relating to the BIA investigation of the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer is of much interest. After Officer Norman Bear did not produce the documents for the Tribal Court, Judge Gonzalez found him in contempt of court. The United States Attorney for South Dakota successfully petitioned the United States District Court for South Dakota for a writ of habeas corpus for BIA Officer Bear. Given the petition, the United States Attorney's office had a great familiarity with the evidence of the alleged rape. In what alternate universe could that office not have committed obstruction of justice due to its failure to prosecute Mr. Janklow for the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer?

I wrote the Attorney General of Nebraska on December 23, 2002, conveying the same evidence and writing, in part: "I spoke with Dr. Donald J. Larson, the general practitioner, who examined Ms. Eagle Deer's body after she was hit by a car. He recalled that she had multiple fractures, but did not think that an autopsy had been performed; the procedures for which required removing the body to Lincoln. While the State Patrol might not have known of the extent of the rape allegations and the respective proceedings, the immediate circumstances of her death should have been enough to arouse suspicion and conduct an autopsy. Where was her car? How did she get hundreds of miles away from home in the dead of night? Was she drugged, beaten, thrown in front of the car prior to impact? When I ask myself if Ms. Eagle Deer had been a wealthy young woman of a different race found in the dead of night on a stark, desolate Nebraska highway would the State Patrol have deprived themselves of the opinion of a board certified forensic pathologist, the answer haunts me."

We are all familiar with the long and odious history of the treatment of Native Americans, which unfortunately extends into the realm of jurisprudence. Possess it merely - that it should come to this. As James M. Landis wrote, "A statute rarely stands alone. Back of Minerva was the brain of Jove, and behind Venus the spume of the ocean." (4)

Accordingly, I am suggesting that the Attorney General of the United States prosecute Mr. Janklow for the crime of assault with intent to commit rape and carnal knowledge of a female under the age of sixteen years and all crimes concordant.

Thank you. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Very Truly Yours,


David J. Harris

1) In State v. Peterson, 1996 SD 140, 557 NW 2d 389, the Court held: "Evidence available to the court at the motion hearing supported court's finding that child's out-of-court statements were sufficiently reliable where social worker testified testified to what child told her in their two interviews." The firmly-rooted hearsay exception of excited utterance also would apply to statements Ms. Eagle Deer offered to all of these individuals since they came in the immediate minutes following her alleged rape and abduction. See also Chief Justice Rehnquist's majority opinion in White v. Illinois, 502 U.S. at 356, 112 S. Ct. at 742-43: "A statement that has been offered in a moment of excitement--without the opportunity to reflect on the consequences of one's exclamation-may justifiably carry more weight with a trier of fact than a similar statement offered in the relative calm of the courtroom."

2) In Williams v. United States 327 U.S. 711, the Supreme Court of the United States held: "After a cession of jurisdiction by the State and after being memorialized to do so by the legislature of South Dakota, Congress, in 1903, granted jurisdiction specifically to the courts of the United States for the District of South Dakota over actions charging any person with certain major crimes committed within any Indian reservation in that State. 32 Stat. 793; 35 Stat. 1151; 36 Stat. 1167; 18 U. S. C. 549." (emphasis added) However, in United States v. Lawrence 51 F.3d 150, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held: "Under the Indian Country Crimes Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. 1152, federal courts do not have jurisdiction over offenses committed within Indian country unless either the defendant or the alleged victim is Indian. See Duro v. Reina, 495 U.S. 676, 680 n.1, 109 L. Ed. 2d 693, 110 S. Ct. 2053 (1990); United States v. McBratney, 104 U.S. 621, 624, 26 L. Ed. 869 (1882)."

3) In Renville, the Indian Major Crimes Act was involved; since the alleged perpetrator is non-Indian, the Indian Country Crimes Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. 1152 would apply.

4) James M. Landis, Dean of Harvard Law School, in "A Note on 'Statutory Interpretation,' " 43 Harvard Law Review 886, 891 (1930).

Source Documents

U.S. Department of Interior Judge Frederick Lambrecht's 8/30/1976 letter to Administrator of Wagner Service Health Service citing affidavit from Eric Sheldahl mentioning rape of Jancita Eagle Deer on January 13, 1967. -- Image -- Transcription

Judge Lambrecht's 1/21/1977 letter to Indian Health Service - Second Request -- Image -- Transcription

Judge Mario Gonzalez's Disbarment Order of William Janklow from practicing law in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court -- Image -- Transcription

Disbarment Opinion -- Page 1 -- Page 2 -- Page 3 -- Page 4 -- Page 5 -- Transcription of the 5 pages

Fort Thompson Agency Tribal Chairman Robert Philbrick's Affidavit alleging Indecent Exposure, Public Inebriation, and Driving under the Influence, and Assaulting an Officer by William Janklow -- Page 1 -- Page 2 -- Transcription

Dr. Kent Bergh Affidavit in which he swears he reviewed the medical chart of Jancita Eagle Deer, which contained an examination of her immediately following the rape, and identified Janklow as the assailant -- Image -- Transcription

Jancita Eagle Deer Polygraph regarding alleged rape by Janklow and if he threatened to kill her -- Image -- Transcription

Letter from Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Aberdeen Area Director Harley Zephier to BIA Rosebud Officer -- Image -- Transcription

Judge Gonzales Finding of Probable Cause of Assault with intent to commit rape by William Janklow and Carnal Knowledge of a Child under the Age of 16 years -- Warrant to Apprehend -- Image -- Transcription

Judge Bogue's Writ of Habeas Corpus -- releasing Norman Bear from jail for his refusal to comply with Judge Gonzalez's subpoena -- Image -- Transcription

Jancita Eagle Deer Rosebud Boarding School Admission Papers -- Page 1 -- Page 2

Letter from Janklow to BIA written on Gubernatorial stationary in which he characterizes himself as Jancita's guardian and requests her school records -- Image -- Transcription

Contact: david@jancitaeagledeer.com

Supplemental background information

BLOOD OF THE LAND: The Government and COrporate War Against the American Indian Movement, by Rex Wehler
The Strange case of Wild Bill Janklow, by Ward Churchill, published in "Covert Action" 1985.

BLOOD OF THE LAND: The Government and COrporate War Against the American Indian Movement
by Rex Wehler

"DUE PROCESS"...Chaper 5
Due Process   p. 125


In October 1974 Janklow ran for South Dakota Attorney General against his boss, incumbent Kermit Sande. The Wounded Knee publicity had frightened the conservative electorate, and Janklow's campaign fires were fueled by promises of "law and order" in the face of "AIM lawlessness:' Sande, on the defensive, attacked Janklow with charges of personal immorality Sande claimed that Janklow had been brought before juvenile court in 1955 at the age of sixteen for allegedly having assaulted a seventeen-year-old girl in Moody County, South Dakota. Although the juvenile records were confidential, Sande repeated in public the rumor that the juvenile offense had been rape. Janklow said that the juvenile delinquency petition against him was dismissed, and that the alleged offense was not rape. "it didn't go that far:' he told the media, "but it was preliminary to that sort of thing:' He later regretted that statement, and said it was merely a cynical wisecrack intended to counteract the lies being spread about him.

Then, on October 16, AIM leader Dennis Banks publicly accused Janklow of another rape charge. According to Banks, in 1966 Janklow, working for the Office of Economic Opportunities$ on the Rosebud reservation, had been accused of rape by fifteen-year-old Jancita Eagle Deer, the Janklow family babysitter. Eagle Deer alleged that Janklow had raped her at gunpoint while giving her a ride home, Janklow claimed that the accusation was false, and that AIM was using a "smear campaign" and "gutter attacks" to discredit him.

AIM lawyer Ken Tilsen felt that the Jancita Eagle Deer story would not hold up in court without further documentation, and Eagle Deer herself had been described as "a confused person" who was "easily intimidated and manipulated:' Banks, however, convinced Chief Justice Mario Gonzalez that there was enough evidence to initiate disbarment proceedings against Janklow in the Rosebud Tribal Court where Janklow was still licensed to practice law. Judge Gonzalez issued an order to appear to Janklow, but neither Janklow nor his lawyer

15. The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash, Johann. Brand, James Lorimer & Co., Toronto, 1978, p103

Blood of the Land  p 126

appeared when the case opened on October 31. The court had also subpoenaed BIA documents from the bureau's investigation of the incident. However, on October 30, the day before the court hearing, BIA Acting Area Director Harley Zephier sent a telegram to Acting Agency Special Officer Norman Beare, ordering him not to deliver the documents to the court. The telegram read: "Be advised that 68 I.A.M. 5.6 reads as follows, 'All reports listed above will be marked U.S. Government use only: Thus limiting access to such reports to appropriate officials. Furnishing of case reports to other than appropriate federal officials must be cleared poor to release with the U.S. district Attorney You are directed by Judge Mario Gonzalez and respectively decline to produce the records on the grounds that the production is prohibited and are considered of a confidential nature:'

Judge Gonzalez was furious that the government had defied his subpoena when the hearing opened with the testimony of Jancita Eagle Deer. He concluded in his opinion dated October 31, 1974." that "the Court is satisfied that the rape allegations against Janklow are properly proven for the purpose of the hearing held today [to determine whether or not charges should be brought] to warrant disbarment:'

Despite Judge Gonzalez's opinion, a simultaneous investigation by the FBI found that the allegations brought against Janklow were completely unfounded.

Furthermore, in the summer of 1975 ~ Janklow having been nominated to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation, the FBI conducted a second investigation, again reviewing each of the charges, and again concluding that they were unfounded. Further investigations by both the White House and the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare ruled unequivocally that there was no truth either to the charges of the alleged rape of Jancita Eagle Deer, or to any of the other charges brought against Janklow. In a letter dated June 10, 1975, White House Counsel Philip W. Buchen made particular reference to the White House investigation, concluding, "The results of this investigation and two previous investigations which have been communicated to the committee indicate that these allegations are simply unfounded:' He continued, "I would appreciate the inclusion of this letter in the official record of Mr. Janklow's nomination, hopefully to put these charges to rest:' During the subsequent Senate committee proceedings, Senator Alan Cranston referred to this letter in a statement to William Janklow: "I wish to state for the record..that this Committee has been fully briefed on the results of the three investigations . . .

16 Mario Gonzalez, Chief Justice, Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court, Rosebud. South Dakota The account is taken from Justice Gonlalez's "Judicial Opinion:' CIV NO 74-2840 from the Rosebud Tribal Court, October 31.1974.

Due Process  p.127

and concurs fully in Mr. Buchen's conclusion that these investigations indicate clearly that the allegations against you are totally unfounded:' Later during the same proceedings, he dressed that "in regard to the eight or nine allegations that were made, the investigation[s] conducted by the FBI are complemented by other investigations, [andl showed absolutely no substantiation in any way for anyone of the charges:'

On November 2, 1974. William Janklow was elected South Dakota State Attorney General.
<<end excerpt
Jancita Eagle Deer was found dead less than four months later.

In the summer of 2000, the FBI released a report that literally leafletted Pine Ridge Reservation purporting to answer questions concerning unsolved murders during the "reign of Terror " in the early 1970s.

An excerpt below from Ward Churchill's response to the FBI "investigation" of Jancita EagleDeer:

Jancita Eagle Deer

The report recounts simply that Eagle Deer was struck by an automobile and
killed while standing in the middle of a remote stretch of Nebraska highway
in the dead of night.  It is not mentioned that she was last seen alive in
the car of FBI infiltrator Douglass Durham, or that he had recently used her
as a pawn in an elaborate counterintelligence gambit designed to discredit
AIM leader Dennis Banks and was in the process of trying to cover his
tracks.  Also neglected are the facts that the driver of the care which hit
her described Eagle Deer as appearing to have been "drunk" immediately prior
to the impact, but that an autopsy revealed no alcohol or other intoxicants
to have been present in her bloodstream.  This obviously raises the question
of whether her peculiar behavior resulted from having been beaten senseless
and dumped along the road, presumably by Durham, before regaining
consciousness and being run over.  Whatever the truth, the FBI displayed
absolutely no interest in investigating one of its own.

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They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one - They promised to take our land...and they took it. -- Chief Red Cloud

Tunkashila, Let us stand Coalition strong in protection of our lands, our beliefs, our Sacred Spirituality, and our traditional Indigenous ways of life. We stand in strong support of Indigenous Rights and the Inherent Allodial title of Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Lands. Let us reclaim what is ours and work diligently to preserve what we now have.

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The Dakota/Lakota/Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition (DLN) is a traditional grassroots Oyate
movement chartered on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota.

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