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Charlie Smoke

After years of chasing down Charlie Smoke, the law has him behind bars. Does it make you feel safer? How many kids could have been fed with the money two countries have spent on this?

Smoke not Native, judge rules

Charlie Smoke

REGINA -- For the first time, a court has ruled that the former Regina resident who calls himself Charlie Smoke is not Native.

Furthermore, his name isn't Charlie Smoke, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Court judge ruled Friday following a hearing on a South Dakota Indian reservation.

In a four-page decision, Judge Lisa Cook said the man at the centre of the case is really Tennessee-born Charles Roger Leo Adams Jr.

Adams is now in jail in Hot Springs, S.D., facing a charge of false impersonation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

The previous two weeks Adams had been in jail on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation after being charged with spousal abuse and child neglect.

According to Cook, the tribal court only has jurisdiction over Native people, so in order to proceed, it had to settle the question of the defendant's identity.

"I decided he was a non-Indian and we did not have jurisdiction," Cook said Wednesday in an interview.

The other criminal charges were dismissed.

AMONG THE FINDINGS IN COOK'S RULING:

- Adams, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1962, operated at least seven aliases and had seven different Social Security numbers. In addition to Charlie Smoke he has also called himself Charlie Wolf, Charlie Wolfslayer, Leo Chico Adams and Sunkmanitu Tanka Isnala Najin;

- Fingerprints taken by police at different places and times from Charles Roger Leo Adams Jr., "Leo Wolfslayer" and "Charlie Smoke" matched;

- Court also heard that Adams has an extensive criminal record.

A National Crime Information Centre printout of his previous offences runs 12 pages.

Adams represented himself at the Kyle courthouse Friday after refusing to co-operate with two court-appointed lawyers.

One of those lawyers told the court he was convinced his client was in fact Adams, not Smoke.

Cook's ruling orders Adams to stop calling himself Charlie Smoke.

Court also heard details about how Adams came to take on the identity of an aboriginal man.

While still a teenager, Adams was acquainted with a "Mountain Man" society which had an emphasis on Native American history and lore.

He began to refer to himself as Leo Wolfslayer.

As a young man living at Pine Ridge reservation, he developed an acquaintance with an elderly Oglala Sioux tribal member named Charlie Smoke.

After Smoke died, Adams assumed his name.

"It's the community's belief that this young person just co-opted his name," Cook said. "There is no blood kinship . . . it's just someone who showed up and wanted to be an Indian."

Adam's birth parents are Roger Leo Adams and Joi Lee Adams, both who are non-Native.

Although Adam's father said he may have some Iroquois blood, Cook's ruling said Adams is no more than 1/64 Indian and he isn't related to the late Charlie Smoke.

While in Regina, Adams had been at the centre of an international controversy when he ran afoul of Canadian immigration laws.

He was hired as a teacher assistant at a Regina high school, but was charged with fraud after it was learned he had given his wife's Social Insurance number as his own.

He was later acquitted, but the case attracted the attention of immigration officials.

Adams has steadfastly denied he is whom the authorities claim.

Grey Owl

He insisted he was born on the Akwesasne reserve in Eastern Canada and is of aboriginal ancestry.

But the Immigration Department said it had proof of his true identity.

Adams had supporters in Regina, but others wondered whether he was a modern-day Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney), the British-born environmentalist who achieved fame while masquerading as a Saskatchewan Indian.

Adams was deported to the U.S. on April 29, 2003.

Since then, he's lived on the Pine Ridge reservation, although it appears he has worn out his welcome.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe had recently applied to have him banned from the reservation.


Smoke & mirrors: Big Eagle's Support waning

The man who called himself Charlie Smoke and was at the centre of a controversial deportation case last year is gradually losing the support of the woman who used to be his biggest supporter.

Lisa Big Eagle, who was married to Smoke and stood by him when he was deported to the U.S. last year, says she is increasingly beginning to think Smoke is actually Charles Roger Leo Adams Jr. -- as Canadian immigration officials claim.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Big Eagle said she "is probably about 70 per cent convinced" that Charlie Smoke is really Charles Roger Leo Adams Jr.

Big Eagle said she was not completely surprised by the recent ruling of a tribal court in South Dakota that her ex-husband (they were divorced earlier this year) is not named Smoke and is not of First Nation heritage.

She said she has had mounting doubts for some time and has developed somewhat of "a gut feeling," that her ex-husband had lied to her about his true identity.

But Big Eagle said it will be "kind of devastating for me" to finally come to grips with the reality that she was married to an impostor.

"I'm really confused,"she said.

But Big Eagle said she will not be 100 per cent convinced her ex-husband is named Roger Adams Jr. until that can be confirmed by DNA tests.

And Big Eagle said she is still hoping to have DNA tests done, to finally settle the question.

In an earlier interview at her rented Regina home Tuesday, Big Eagle said she has travelled to the U.S. several times to visit Adams over the past 18 months.

And, on one occasion, Adams entered Canada illegally and came to Regina to visit Big Eagle and the couple's children.

Big Eagle said they divorced partly because Adams wanted her to take the children and come live with him in the U.S. but she didn't believe that would provide a stable arrangement for herself or for the children.

Big Eagle said part of her growing skepticism about Adams involves his reluctance to submit to a DNA test.

But Big Eagle is hoping to make arrangements to have a DNA test done on her 11-year-old son and on Allen Adams who lives in Memphis and would be a brother to Roger Adams Jr.

Another option might involve undertaking a legal action to force Roger Adams Jr. to provide a DNA sample, she said.

Big Eagle says her skepticism also increased after a conversation she said she had with Allen Adams, who met with Roger Adams Jr. after he was returned to the U.S.

While Allen Adams offered no firm opinion about Roger Adams' identity, he told Big Eagle he had looked to see if there was still scar tissue on one of Roger Adams' hands where he had suffered a burn injury during his childhood.

Big Eagle said she was told that Roger Adams Jr.was not keen to have his hand examined,

Yet another reason why Big Eagle is increasingly skeptical relates to childhood pictures of Roger Adams Jr. she has received from a member of the Adams family.

And some of those childhood photos of Roger Adams Jr. appear to bear a significant similarity to adult pictures taken of the man who called himself Charlie Smoke.

"Every time he talks, I think he's making it up as he goes," Big Eagle said of her ex-husband, adding she just wants to finally know the truth. "I really need closure, I need this for myself and my kids."


Charlie Smoke: a pipe dream

REGINA - The saga of Charlie Smoke, a man who claimed he was from the Akwesasne reserve in Ontario and had been unfairly deported to the U.S. - has finally come unravelled in a South Dakota courtroom.

In a four-page decision released last week, Judge Lisa Cook of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court said the man at the centre of the case is really Tennessee-born Charles Roger Leo Adams Jr. and not aboriginal at all. It was the first time a court has ruled on the identity of the man who once worked at a Regina high school and raised six children with his aboriginal wife.

Adams is now in jail in Hot Springs, S.D., facing a charge of false impersonation.

Adams had been jailed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after being charged with spousal abuse and child neglect.

Judge Cook found that Mr. Adams, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1962, used at least seven aliases and had seven different U.S. social security numbers. In addition to Charlie Smoke, he has also called himself Charlie Wolf, Charlie Wolfslayer, Leo Chico Adams and Sunkmanitu Tanka Isnala Najin.

Court also heard that Adams has an extensive criminal record. A National Crime Information Centre printout of his previous offences runs 12 pages.

Cook's ruling also orders Adams to stop calling himself Charlie Smoke.

Lisa Big Eagle, the Regina woman who was married to him until they divorced earlier this year, said she has become increasingly skeptical of his claims.

In Regina, Mr. Adams was at the centre of an international controversy when he ran afoul of Canadian immigration laws.

He was hired as a teacher assistant at Scott Collegiate in Regina, but was charged with fraud after it was learned he had given his wife's social insurance number as his own.

Adams was first deported to the U.S. in April 2003 and went to live on the Pine Ridge reservation. He was kicked out of Canada again last May for being an illegal immigrant.