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Obituary: American Indian Movement leader

Encountering Bob Robideau

By Suria Kassimi M.A.

Robert Robideau died unexpectedly February 16, 2009, far away from Indian country in a dark, cave-like apartment in Barcelona, Spain. His death became the demented starting point to bring forth the myth of him as the legend of Pine Ridge.

Resurrected as the tireless campaigner for Leonard Peltier’s freedom and true defender of indigenous rights all over the world, Robideau’s death fuels the talk about what it is to be a “warrior,” and what it is to fight for the freedom of indigenous people. Robideau was honored to have lived it and was a great role model for AIM members everywhere. How amazing!

Bob Robideau has never been the sunnyboy hero warrior referred to in media reports. Not only was he considered a dubious character holding a truly bad reputation as a political figure, he must have been a ‘nasty pest’ with friends and family. Being a close relative of Leonard Peltier implies a lot of conflict potential and the incontrovertible fact of standing always in second row. This must be rated as a fact, not to underestimate Robideau’s pretense to respectability and brought about his relentless pursuit to surprise with new unknown and outrageous facts which dominated his communication and led him to consolidate various alliances and hatch diverse plots with warring squads. As a result he lost integrity and faith in his own objectives and had to struggle with the reality of that. Doubtlessly Robideau was a forsaken man who got very desperate.

Last spring he published his thoughts about the Anna Mae case in his MySpace blog, which pointed out the involvement of almost all AIM leaders in the killing of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. He received no response to his provocative lecture.

Getting ignored this way left him feeling high and dry. Even if MySpace is not ranked highly as an platform to discuss political issues, Robideau took it personally and reacted with an exorbitant angriness: “Its all about damned Trudell, those idiots need heroes and John became their hero. If you know how to pull their strings you can get those uneducated fools everywhere!”

In early summer Robideau closed down his MySpace site.

Bob worked with me on several art projects concerning native issues as well as others. We were preparing for the international art show for January this year, which took place in my studio in La Palma and presented artworks of more than 100 artists from all over the world.

This particular task evolved into a stage for Bob to perform Robideau, the artist, offering the possibility to make a name only for himself and because of himself, rid of the past!

Besides his interest in education and the effort to gain insight into the history of art and art itself, it was misery and the intense emotion of a keen disappointment that made Robideau concentrate on art and art projects. But it paralyzed his actions at the critical moments.

Stepping out of the shadow of AIM brotherhood became his field of death. The ignorance of his intellectual talents by his AIM brothers had offended him deeply. A lot of his energy went to fight all his frustrated ambitions down. Meanwhile his hopes were centered on starting a new artistic existence.

But life wasn’t that easy for Robideau, and now, events were developing in another direction that would prove as stubborn facts that this fresh European dream was over before the start. Apparently the immutable and sudden end sometimes marks the only solution to a given truth.

For some, it must have an been easy and tempting offer to capture him as a dead man. People who barely knew him expressed their mourning. Those who ignored him for the last years felt free to write statements about their deep concern and their inexpressible sadness about the loss.

The false complaints and lamentations deform the real person so the lifelike Robideau vanished behind a bunch of projections. In the blink of death’s eye the bad guy became everybody’s darling!

This superficial, overdone and commonplace condolement statements pretending to dignify and appreciate him and his life didn’t do him any justice at all, because Robideau was never superficial, not in his good ways and not in his evil ones.

In both ways he never gave up but took a break to come up with something surprising and new.

And again for the last time he put one over on all those comrades, friends and relatives.

Simply by passing away he made exposed people and proved the deep dishonesty he always suspected.

Robideau’s strength in provoking all kinds of unpopular or even painful truths has to be honored. He was abusive, violent and dangerous. So don’t worry. He can stand for himself and does not need mendacious propaganda!

~SK

Photos: below, the author with Robideau in Barcelona, last year. Photo by Suria Kassimi, 2008. Click for larger. Above, a frame from the documentary film about the 1970’s Oglala iincident.

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