Ray Robinson: Whatever happened to the civil rights activist at Wounded Knee?

Leonard Peltier
Ray Robinson
Michael Kuzma

A lawsuit has been filed in Buffalo against the U.S. Justice Department to obtain answers to what happened to civil rights activist Ray Robinson.

Ray Robinson of Selma, Alabama was last seen on April 1973 when he went to the Pine Ridge Village in South Dakota.

According to his wife, Robinson was at a conference in New Mexico for Vietnam Veterans Against the War when he was approached to come to Wounded Knee to join the protest.  Robinson got there in late April.

AIM co-founder Dennis Banks (click here to read story about Dennis’ missing granddaughter Rose Downwind) and other AIM activists from the Pine Ridge reservation led the protest after a failed impeachment of elected chairman of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Richard Wilson.  (Richard Wilson disliked and condemned AIM.)  The protests became an armed takeover of Wounded Knee.  AIM took over the town and drove out the residents.  It became a media event that ended after a 71-day standoff resulting in the deaths of two Native American’s and a federal agent.  The residents never returned to the town to rebuild it.

Dick Wilson

The lawsuit that is asking for information from the FBI’s investigation into the case was filed by Michael Kuzma who is part of the defense team that has tried to get Leonard Peltier out of federal prison.   Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents during the Pine Ridge shootout in 1975.

Kuzma started his initial request for documents began in 2001 and he filed several appeals in an attempt to get the records.  In 2012 he received “two pages in part,” but some pages were still being withheld, so Kuzma has sued.

Perry Ray Robinson, Jr was living with his wife, Cheryl Buswell-Robinson and children in Selma, Ala. before  he disappeared.  Bushwell-Robinson said she was surprised so many AIM (American Indian Movement) members don’t remember her husband, especially since he was a 6’2″ black man with a deep voice.

Dennis Banks, AIM member

In a May 1973 FBI memo a Native America woman who left the village said there were 200 Indians, 11 whites and two blacks.  A black woman from Alabama was accounted for and the other black which is assumed to have been Robinson has never been.

Although Ray has been declared dead, his body has never been located and no one knows what happened to him after he arrived in South Dakota.

Over the years, Buswell-Robinson has heard many stories about what happened to her husband.  She was told her husband was killed by federally backed vigilantes and another story said he was killed because he was accused of being a federal informant.  She was also told that Robinson entered Wounded Knee at night and was shot for not following an order to report to Dennis Banks.  AIM member Richard Two Elk told the Associated Press in 2004 that he saw someone shoot Robinson in the knees because he would not pick up a gun and was bothering people in the bunker. AIM leader, Carter Camp, said years later that Robinson had walked away under his own power, seeking medical help for his wounded leg.

If Robinson is still alive he would be 75-years-old.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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  1. Rose Downwind, granddaughter of Dennis Banks founder of the American Indian Movement missing FOUND – Missing Persons of America