Map cutout from "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" by Peter Matthiessen

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On the Passing of Standing Deer
January 21, 2003

Dear Friends:

Late yesterday afternoon the LPDC was informed of the death of Robert Standing Deer Wilson. As many of you know, Standing Deer was a close friend and brother to Leonard Peltier for the past 25 years.

Robert "Standing Deer " Wilson

He had long been a vocal supporter for Leonard, and in the past year assisted in organizing Houston events and radio programs dedicated to Leonard's freedom. More recently, Standing Deer joined the LPDC's Board of Directors and was an active member. The LPDC is saddened and greatly regrets his passing.

In Solidarity,

Memorial Service for Standing Deer

A memorial service for Standing Deer is planned for Sunday, January 26 in Houston, TX. Standing Deer's family will receive visitors for the viewing beginning at 1:00 PM. The memorial service will begin at 3:00 PM.

Miller Funeral Home
7723 Beechnut

Standing Deer & Leonard Peltier

Source: (Cropped) From Standing Deer's Photo Collection

Marion Prison, 1978

More Photos Here

Standing Deer's Message to the People June 26, 2002

Robert "Standing Deer" Wilson, was an enrolled Oneida from the Oneida Nations of Wisconsin. At Leonard's request to serve on the LPDC Board of Directors, Standing Deer responded that he would "consider it an honor to serve if that will help him in his struggle to regain his freedom." Standing Deer met Leonard in 1978 at USP Marion, where Leonard made quite an impression on him, leading him to do whatever he could to help Leonard. Standing Deer wrote letters when asked to by the LPDC, and published articles and letters to the editor as well. Since his release from prison on September 4, 2001, he had been living in Houston where he continued to work for Leonard's freedom and assisted two young activists with First Nations Radio.

Click here for a picture essay of the Houston event
Standing Deer helped to organize

Pictures From Standing Deer


In Memory: The Official Web Site of Standing Deer

--- by Anna Standing Deer and Bonnie Kerness

Jan. 28, 2003

Slain American Indian Parolee had Embraced Heritage, Activism


Houston Chronicle

Standing Deer, who spent about a quarter century in prison, turned his life around after he met the man he said he had been asked to help "neutralize" nearly 25 years ago.

He became an activist for inmates and an advocate for American Indians.

Standing Deer's work as a free man, however, was short-lived. A little more than a year after he was paroled, the 70-year-old was fatally stabbed.

"It's been a tremendous loss," said Jacquelyn Battise, a longtime Houston peace activist and producer of People of Earth, a radio program devoted to American Indians that is broadcast on KPFT-FM. Battise is an Alabama-Coushatta Choctaw.

Standing Deer, a Choctaw Oneida also known as Robert Hugh Wilson, was best known in the American Indian community for his friendship with longtime activist Leonard Peltier and for exposing an alleged plot to assassinate him. Peltier was imprisoned for allegedly killing two FBI agents in 1975.

Standing Deer also worked for inmate rights, especially religious freedoms for American Indian inmates, his friends said.

One of his two daughters, Vicki Larsen, 43, of Oklahoma, said she never got a chance to know her father, who had been in prison much of her life. She said she loved him and that his friends from all over the world made her realize how much he was admired.

She said she has received e-mail from England, Belgium and all over the United States from people who "were devastated by what happened to him."

"Anyone I have spoken to about him, they all loved him, and they told me he was a kind, generous man who had a huge smile all the time," Larsen said.

Police said Standing Deer was killed Jan. 20 by Pius Vinton Smashed Ice, 37, who is being held in the Harris County Jail without bail on murder charges. Smashed Ice originally said burglars broke into the house and that he came home to find Standing Deer dead, police said. He later admitted he had killed him, they said.

Battise said Standing Deer had lived alone after being paroled from prison in September 2001. She said Smashed Ice is a Lakota who had come to Houston to stay with Standing Deer.

"Standing Deer didn't know him before but was very generous, and for whatever reason trusted him and brought him to his house," Battise said.

Standing Deer had several robbery convictions, some in federal and state courts. Before he served time in a Texas prison for a 1975 robbery in Harris County, he was sentenced in 1976 to 15 years in federal prison for bank robbery and interstate transportation of stolen property.

He was sent to the federal prison at Marion, Ill., where he met Peltier. Standing Deer told his friends that Peltier "saved his life" after Standing Deer had agreed to be a part of what some have called a government plan to kill the activist.

In a sworn affidavit, Standing Deer claimed he was recruited by a prison official and an unidentified civilian to help them in "neutralizing" Peltier. He said that if he agreed to the plan, he would have received medical treatment for his back, and seven indictments against him in Oklahoma would have been dismissed.

But instead of carrying out the plan, he befriended Peltier. He told his friends that Peltier taught him to renounce his criminal past and return to his American Indian roots. He said Peltier instilled in him so much pride for his heritage that Standing Deer began using his Indian name, which had been given to him as a child by his grandfather.

"He told me that Peltier had saved his life," said James Clark, one of Standing Deer's close friends and Battise's husband.

"He was transformed from being a kind of hard gangster into a beautiful, beautiful man -- a Native American," Battise said.

Peter Matthiessen's book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse recounts the plot against Peltier.

In writings from prison, Standing Deer railed against inhuman treatment of inmates. He warned that men held in high-security prisons with few privileges could turn their rage on innocent people when they're released.

"What do these severe terms of confinement do to the minds of the men? Does living in a cage smaller than your bathroom with constant harassment from guards reduce men to sniveling, quivering jellyfish -- like the parole board wants -- or are some of these prisoners harboring a seething rage, a hatred and lust for revenge so deep that citizens will have to pay with their lives when these men get out?" he wrote.

Standing Deer, however, avoided the rage. Outside prison, "he was a charming guy," Clark said. "He was easy-going, fun to be around."

He planned to tell stories of his prison life on Battise's radio program to let people know about the cruel treatment of inmates, Clark said.

Ray Hill, Standing Deer's close friend and host of the Prison Show on KPFT, said he had corresponded with Standing Deer for several years and met him after he was paroled.

"He was a sage," Hill said.


Jan. 22, 2003
>> Houston: Metro Networks - On Robert Hugh Wilson Standing Deer
Elderly Man's Stabbing Death Probed
>> Houston Chronicle Man, 70, found stabbed to death in townhouse
>> Houseguest arrested in elderly man's slaying

Until Freedom Is Won! The New Campaign For Truth and Justice