The very first time I read the pages of the Indigenous Women for Justice (IWJ), I was truly impressed with the efforts and dedication expressed by these women who are fighting for justice for my mother, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. I was so impressed that I decided that I would become part of this campaign, to help send a very loud message to my mother's murderers that it is not acceptable to murder a woman and then lie about it for 28-years. I have decided to join the IWJ in their campaign for justice and volunteered to become their Executive Director, a role I am honored to fulfill. In doing so, it is my intent that my family can collectively provide a voice for my mother, not only in Canada, but in the United States as well.
Myself, along with family members, recently returned from South Dakota where we witnessed the trial of Arlo Looking Cloud. Three days of sworn testimony from twenty-three witnesses recounted the events leading up to the murder of my mother. The family of Anna Mae believes Arlo's trial was fair and just. His defense attorney aggressively cross-examined prosecution witnesses, but by the end of their testimonies Arlo simply could not call some of those same people to be witnesses for his defense for they had already testified to what he had done and the role he played in my mother's murder. In this age of increasing intolerance and social injustice, we still have faith that every opportunity will be exercised to ensure that John Graham will receive a fair trial. An extradition hearing is not a trial; the hearing only establishes that the US has what it needs to hold Graham accountable to answer to the charge for which he is indicted – the first-degree murder of my mother. In an actual trial Graham can present whatever defense he has in a court of law, and no doubt the nature of the case and his present campaign to avoid being tried will result in rigorous scrutiny, which will ensure that he gets a fair trial. Our mother never got the opportunity of a trial or to present a defense, her accusers passed the death sentence and Looking Cloud, Graham, and Theda Clark carried it out – that much was clearly established in the sworn testimony at Looking Cloud's trial.
I am insulted that people would try to define and reduce my mother's murder to a matter of political differences, and cloak it in more lies and deception by suggesting that history would repeat itself in the matter of Graham's extradition. John Graham is not Leonard Peltier and this is 2004 and not 1976. There is no Myrtle Poor Bear; bogus witnesses and lies won't extradite and convict Graham, the evidence will. And the evidence and genuine witnesses are there. One of our biggest senses of disappointment comes from the individuals who have demonstrated by their actions that, for them, this whole process is not about justice for our mother. For these often malicious and invariably misguided individuals, it has little to do with truth, but instead presents another opportunity for them to use her brutal murder as a platform for their own agendas, and to revive their battles of yesteryear on the tragedy of her murder. In truth, it was nothing less than matricide; my mother's killers and their conspirators violated each of her basic human rights, and those responsible are so callous that they continue to perpetuate the lies that have protected them and brought about this travesty of justice that will continue until each and every one of them has been indicted and tried in a court of law. We now know who they are and we are watching. As Anna Mae's family, we can no longer accept the insult that the victimization and colonization of our nations was, in itself, an excuse for her murder. Those who make this claim are themselves guilty of contributing to the seemingly insurmountable mountain of injustice that has plagued our mother and native women for far too long. I suppose that those who stole my mother's life from us and her nation should be grateful that intolerance, racism, and ignorance – the very things they were supposed to stand against - would in the end serve them well and protect them for the last quarter of a century. Only now are they starting to be held accountable for this horrible act.
My family has stated before that we would support any individual who chooses to step forward with information to bring peace and closure for my mother and our family. For those who have, your words and support inspire and empower us to reclaim what was so brutally taken from us 28-years ago, and it further confirms that in the end the truth will prevail. Our spirits are beginning to heal. The words of those individuals who now speak the truth give us hope and the courage to carry on, and confirms our belief that those unsung warriors our mother's spirit seeks do indeed exist. If standing up and speaking the truth makes somebody "an informant" then I guess by those perverse standards anyone who speaks the truth will have that title. Men in AIM who still claim to be leaders today accused our mother of being an informant, and their accusations and orders resulted in her murder. Now Ka-Mook Nichols is being castigated. Our family honors Ka-Mook's courage, strength and integrity. We thank Ka-Mook, and we thank the IWJ for all that they have done for our mother. To all those who support us in our quest and who have stepped forward and asked the difficult questions -- Robert Branscombe, Robert Ecoffey, Paul DeMain, Bob Robideau, John Trudell, and Dino Butler -- and to all those who support our quest for justice behind the scenes for our mother – a sister, friend and visionary - we honor and thank you. To all of you who might find the courage and strength in your hearts to stand with us and stand up for our mother now, we thank and welcome you.Denise Maloney-Pictou, Executive Director – Indigenous Women for Justice.
The IWJ is honored to have Annie Mae's eldest daughter, Denise Maloney Pictou, on board as Executive Director. As previously stated, our unity sisterhood does not follow the structural conventions of the colonizer, but we recognise that Denise's new role will make it easier for some in other organizations to relate and identify with the IWJ. The IWJ have no plans to adopt any titles or positions to supplement those of Executive Director and Spokeswoman.
In the spirit of Anna Mae Pictou, Marley Shebala (Navajo/Zuni) — Spokeswoman-Indigenous Women for Justice — email@example.com
We are no longer silenced by fear
The IWJ is a unity sisterhood of women from indigenous nations located