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Steve Hendricks Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS-0153

Content Description

The Steve Hendricks Papers consists of more than three decades of research material gathered by writer Steve Hendricks for his 2006 nonfiction book “The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, documenting investigations of the FBI into the affairs of the American Indian Movement (AIM) through the years following the 71-day armed occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Hendricks’ research material presents the narrative of a government agency with little consideration into the human impact of their investigations and of a civil rights organization willing to take drastic measures toward perceived attacks, even against its own members.

Named series within the Steve Hendricks Papers include: AIM Members and Wounded Knee Occupation, Bissonnette Shooting, DeSersa Murder, Douglass Durham, Eagle Deer/Janklow Case, RESMURS Case and Aquash Murder, and United States Commission on Civil Rights. The collection is stored in 17 document boxes. The material of the collection primarily consists of redacted government documents obtained through many FOIA requests, along with news reports, articles, independent interviews and research. Other artifacts consist of court transcripts, commission reports, and audio and video recordings.

Additional description is found by clicking on each series.

The following description was provided by Steve Hendricks, the donor:

I gathered the documents to write my 2006 book The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, a work of history (chiefly the 1970s) and contemporary journalism. The documents fall into 5 general categories:

(1) Documents related to the FBI's investigation of the murder of the American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Aquash. The Aquash case has been a focus of controversy for decades because the FBI was suspected of having foreknowledge of the murder--and of covering up their involvement in it afterward. Because of the public interest in the case, documents from the Aquash file were placed in the FBI's "FOIA Reading Room," where frequently requested files are made available. The Reading Room file on Aquash contained only 92 pages. For decades, the FBI insisted that this was its entire file on Aquash. Through years of FOIA litigation, we were able to pry out thousands of more documents, including some that corroborate activists' long-held suspicions about the FBI's possible complicity in (minimally, foreknowledge of) Aquash's kidnapping and murder.

(2) Documents from the files of the FBI and other federal, state, and tribal agencies relating to other AIM activists and events, most of them obtained through FOIA litigation. These are useful in documenting the various governments' efforts to monitor and, at times, sabotage the Indian Rights movement. Many of the files had never before been released and would only be released today via a very specifically tailored FOIA request.

(3) Files from the archives of the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee (WKLDOC). In 1973, AIM activists seized the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and held it against federal, state, tribal, and irregular forces for 71 days. WKLDOC was established to represent the activists in the legal aftermath of the occupation. WKLDOC's full archives are kept in St. Paul, Minnesota, but Steve's copies are of key documents. They are often poor quality reproductions.

(4) Various rare or hard-to-obtain historical documents. For instance, one of WKLDOC's lead researchers, the late Paula Giese, made a thorough investigation of the FBI's most infamous infiltrator of AIM, the late Doug Durham, and other possible FBI infiltrations of AIM. Her research didn't end up in thea WKLDOC archive but rather in a storage shed behind the house of one of Giese's friends, on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. They were deteriorating rapidly. Giese's friend was suspicious of outsiders wanting access to the records, but she entrusted me with copies of most of them. This category is an admitted jumble of things: handwritten or typewritten notes from WKLDOC researchers, clippings from now-defunct newsletters, partial transcripts of interviews. Also in this category are audio recordings of radio reports from Indian Country in the 1970s that to my knowledge exist in no other archive--I got them directly from the reporters who filed them. There's also a video recording or two of documentaries that were extremely hard to come by at the time but that may now be more easily found with the Internet.

(5) Steve Hendricks' correspondence with various historical figures and journalists about their participation in or research into the events of the time.


  • Creation: circa 1970-2007


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

The Conditions Governing Access policy of UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections is available at

Conditions Governing Use

Donor retains all copyrights they may hold.

The Conditions Governing Use policy of UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections is available at


6.67 Linear Feet (15 whole document boxes; 2 half document boxes) : Correspondence; Reports; VHS; Audiocassette tapes, MP3s

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Steve Hendricks retrieved the majority of the documents via Freedom of Information Act requests to and lawsuits against various government agencies. Other documents were given to the donor from the personal collections of individuals (historical participants or journalists). Some documents are from other archives and a few documents are his correspondence.


The Statement on Harmful Materials of UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections is available at

Steve Hendricks Papers
Amy Schindler; Angela Kroeger; David DeYarman (2022); Wendy Guerra (2023)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Archives & Special Collections Repository

Archives & Special Collections
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha Nebraska 68182-0237 United States