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For the children in exile

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DLN Issues : Uninvestigated Aim Casualties and Unresolved Deaths : Ray Robinson

Return to Uninvestigated AIM Casualties and Unresolved Deaths

Man Missing at Wounded Knee, 1973

by Stephen Hendricks

A man who went to Wounded Knee when it was occupied by activists 30 years ago disappeared there and was never seen again, his family says.

Media reports during and after the 1973 occupation aired allegations that several people were killed at or near Wounded Knee and secretly buried. These alleged deaths were in addition to the known deaths of Buddy Lamont and Frank Clearwater.

After the occupation ended, the BIA and U.S. Justice Department reportedly searched for graves, but no remains were found. Nor were names ever given to the alleged missing, until now.

Ray Robinson, a black civil rights worker, traveled to Pine Ridge in April 1973, according to his wife, Cheryl Buswell-Robinson. She said Robinson was at a conference in New Mexico for Vietnam Veterans Against the War when people from Wounded Knee urged supporters to come to the occupied village.

Robinson responded, apparently arriving on Pine Ridge in late April. Sources who were inside Wounded Knee at the time differ on whether Robinson made it inside the village. None of the sources wished to speak on the record.

Buswell-Robinson said she has been told conflicting stories about her husband's alleged death. Under one story, her husband was killed by federally backed vigilantes as Robinson tried to enter or exit Wounded Knee. Under another story, her husband was killed inside Wounded Knee after he was accused of being a federal informant. None of the stories has been verified.

"As close as I could figure out," Buswell-Robinson said, "Ray was killed somewhere between April 20 and 23. His friend Janie Waller went into Wounded Knee right after him and was processed out during the stand-down."

Buswell-Robinson said Waller, now deceased, didn't see Robinson inside Wounded Knee. Waller and Robinson apparently traveled to Pine Ridge with two other friends, Emily Gordon and Gordon's boyfriend: "a light-skinned African-American," she said, "who dressed in black and had gold chains and a black hat like Aussies wear." Neither Gordon nor her then-boyfriend has been located.

Mark Vukelich, an FBI agent with responsibility for major crimes on Pine Ridge, refused to confirm or deny whether the FBI was investigating or even aware of Robinson's disappearance.

Buswell-Robinson said she filed a missing-persons report with the FBI soon after Robinson disappeared. She heard nothing from the FBI for a quarter-century.

Then, two years ago, an FBI agent visited her Detroit home. Buswell-Robinson said she agreed to speak with the agent but requested her lawyer be present, at which point the agent ended the interview. She has not heard from the FBI or any other law enforcement agency about her husband since.

Robinson's full name is reportedly Perry Ray Robinson, Jr. Prior to his disappearance, he was living with his wife and children in Selma, Ala., where he worked on black-equality and anti-poverty efforts.

Independent reporter Steve Hendricks is investigating Robinson's disappearance. To contact him with information about Robinson, call 406-449-0446 (collect calls okay); write 717 Fifth Avenue, Helena MT 59601; or e-mail StephenBicknell at rocketmail.com.



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