Matt spoke to us about the story of James R Weddell as told to us from Gloria Mattioni. James was a generous supporter of his people; the Lakota of South Dakota. James Weddell was a Lakota from Yankton who was an activist for his people. That is to say, a trouble maker. He intervened in a rape where the assailant was a white man and the victim was a Lakota girl. The White man accused him of battery ahd Weddell was convicted. Later, Waddell was at the fringe of a situation where a man was killed and the law enforcement selected Waddell to be the person to stand trial for it. The injustice of the conviction was so egregious that it brought international attention to the justice system of South Dakota.
Italian journalist, Gloria Mattioni, met Weddell and volunteered to investigate and seek justice. For ten years, she researched and published accounts of the case in hopes of getting it reopened. James R. Weddell finally was released on December 18th, 2003 after a decade of shaming the State of South Dakota into reexamining the case.
From the book review: “Dakota Warrior is a meditation on what it means to embody the figure of the warrior in our modern society. It is also a breathless tale of daring prison breaks earning Weddell the nickname of the American Indian Houdini, of ending up on America’s Most Wanted, of the unyielding fight for the Black Hills–the Lakota sacred lands that were illegally taken by the U.S. government, of political activism, of the shootout and reconciliation with AIM leader Russell Means, of racism and unexpected friendship, of tribal history and strong spiritual beliefs.”