PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Robert Robideau, an American Indian activist who was acquitted of killing two FBI agents in a 1975 shootout in South Dakota, has died, his son confirmed Thursday. He was 61.
Robideau had been living in Barcelona, Spain, where authorities said that his death Tuesday may have been related to seizures caused by shrapnel left in his head from an accidental explosion.
Robideau, a Portland native, was the cousin of Leonard Peltier and a member of the American Indian Movement who occupied the reservation town of Wounded Knee, S.D., for 71 days in 1973, two years before the shootout.
His son, Michael Robideau, told The Associated Press that his father moved to Spain about 10 years ago and traveled widely in Europe speaking at universities on political parties and movements.
He said his father would come back to the United State every year or so.
The body will be returned to Portland, his son said. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Robideau attended Roosevelt High School and received a degree in cultural anthropology from Portland State University.
Robideau left for South Dakota in the early 1970s with several family members, including Peltier, to join AIM and its protests against poverty and corruption on tribal reservations.
In June 1975, two FBI agents followed a man wanted in the theft of a pair of cowboy boots onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The agents soon came under heavy rifle fire and were killed.
The FBI identified Peltier as a suspect in the shooting and placed him on its most wanted list.
Months later, Robideau was driving Peltier’s station wagon through Kansas with other AIM members when ammunition in the car accidentally exploded.
Robideau, who was seriously injured, was arrested and tried for the FBI agent killings, but was acquitted.
Peltier was arrested by Oregon State Police troopers while driving through Oregon and later convicted of the FBI shootings. He is serving two life sentences.
Robideau was at odds with many American Indian activists over the case of John Graham, who was charged in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, an AIM activist found shot to death on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1976.
The question of Graham’s guilt is widely debated by activists and others.
Robideau resigned from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee because of its support for Graham, which Robideau did not share.
Graham fled to Canada and fought extradition, but was returned to South Dakota in 2007 where he awaits trial on murder charges.
Robideau appeared in “Incident at Oglala,” the 1992 documentary about the Pine Ridge shootings narrated by actor Robert Redford and directed by Michael Apted.