The following are just some of the lies, fabrications and claims John Boy Graham and his supporters have recently presented to the public and media in his defense.
Below each lie, CLAIM, and question, the facts are detailed. These statements of FACT, are based on written and taped interviews, and transcripts, with individuals involved in the Aquash murder case, and the American Indian Movement.
Should John Graham wish to challenge the credibility of the statements attributed to him, or the statements attributed to others where it is indicated that those comments were made in "a recorded interview," those recorded statements will be aired.
The reader should note that the rebuttals to the lies of John Graham come from people who knew Graham and who were in AIM in 1975/76. Graham's primary supporters, Matthew Lien, Jennifer Wade, and Viola Papequash, simply were not there with Graham in 1975/76.
CLAIM: John Graham was a friend of Anna Mae's. "John was a dear friend to Anna Mae, and has grieved for her," said Matthew Lien of the John Graham Defense Committee. Lien has also stated, "I try to stay out of the gossip debates and keep focused on the facts I know to be true, and amongst these is the absolute knowledge that John was Anna Mae's friend and did nothing to harm her, ever." Lien has also claimed that Graham tried to contact Anna Mae's family. "We have always been open with the family, directly offering to meet and providing our position with great sensitivity."
FACT: John Graham was not "a dear friend to Anna Mae." In a recorded interview in 2001, Graham himself denied ever having a substantive relationship with Aquash, and said he had never been to Nova Scotia to visit her family. After AIM's 1975 convention in Farmington, NM, where John Graham's adopted aunt, Theda Clark, first publicly accused Anna Mae of being an informant, Anna Mae found it difficult to find "dear friends." Among those who could be considered to have been Anna Mae's friends after Farmington were Iris Thundercloud, Candy Hamilton, Bernie Nichols, John Trudell, Dino Butler, and Geraldine Janis. Doubters should call them and ask.
In an on-the-record interview, Oglala Lakota elder Geraldine Janis said of Anna Mae, "She moved back to Oglala when they started the talk that she was a snitch. She was scared of everybody then. All she said was, 'I don't trust anybody.' She lived all alone then. I'd give her a ride into town for food and cigarettes, and bring her to my house so she could take a shower." In a recorded interview Geraldine goes on to say, "John Boy was with them in Denver when she disappeared. They had to shoot her you know, in the back. She never would have gone with them unless they tied her up."
In a recorded interview in 2001, Graham admitted participating in Anna Mae's removal from Troy Lynn Yellow Wood's apartment in Denver, her subsequent transportation to Rapid City, and to being present at the locations in Rapid City, and on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations where Anna Mae was taken before being executed. Graham also acknowledged that Theda Clark accused Anna Mae at Farmington.
If John Graham was such a "dear friend" to Anna Mae, who "grieved" for her, then why didn't he contact her family 27 years ago? Or at any time during that 27 years? Trying to sell this "dear friend" lie is hardly showing "great sensitivity" to the Pictou-Aquash family.
CLAIM: The FBI is framing John Graham for Anna Mae's murder because he is a leader of AIM. In a statement issued by Jennifer Wade, one of Graham's supporters, she states that Graham "gave me the following information in the presence of a witness, and both he and the witness signed and dated what I wrote down while I was with them." Wade wrote, "All the AIM leaders that went in to South Dakota in 1975 - Anna Mae, Hubert Horse, Richard Star - are now dead except him (John Graham) and, of course Peltier, so that he (Graham) carries the burden of the story of what really happened. He (Graham) also said that the AIM leaders all died within two months of being at Wounded Knee."
FACT: John Graham was never a leader of AIM, and neither were Anna Mae, Hobart Horse, Richard Star, or Leonard Peltier. John Graham was not at Wounded Knee, and according to Graham himself, his first involvement with AIM was in Ottawa in1974. The occupation/liberation of Wounded Knee ended on May 8, 1973. Anna Mae was killed on December 12, 1975, and Hobart Horse was killed on March 1, 1976, they did not die "within two months of being at Wounded Knee." The recognized AIM leaders from the 1970s are still very much alive: Dennis Banks, Russell, Ted and Bill Means, Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, Herb Powless, John Trudell, and Larry Anderson . . . as are others like Carter Camp, Dave Hill, Dick Marshall, and Leonard Crow Dog, who all had their constituencies. John Graham was a subordinate in Denver AIM who relied upon his adopted aunt, Theda Clark, for his introductions and inclusion within AIM.
For the record, several of those genuine AIM leadership figures have acknowledged that John Boy Graham shot Anna Mae in recorded interviews. Here are a few examples:
John Trudell: "He told me that he, and Theda, and John Boy did, in fact, take Annie Mae from Troy Lynn's house to Rapid City. And when they were in Rapid City, that Annie Mae was kept in an empty apartment that belonged to Thelma Rios; or nobody was living in it. Anyway, she was kept in an apartment of some sort that belonged to Thelma. But it seems to me from my conversation with Arlo, that Annie Mae was never in Rapid City for more than a couple of days at the very most; but it seems to me that she wasn't there a real long time. She was taken from Rapid City by him, and John Boy, and Theda, to a house in Rosebud that was by the Indian hospital, and they went to this house, and they parked at this house. And according to Arlo, Theda and John Boy went inside this house, and they were in there for a period of time, and they came back out, and they got in the car. And then they went and drove to the spot where Annie Mae was killed. And John Boy and Arlo walked her out to a spot and made her kneel down; he said she was on her knees; and she was praying and talking about her children, and she didn't want to die. And then John Boy shot her in the back of the head."
Russell Means: "I want to say this about Branscombe: he's been investigating his cousin's death in obscurity and he's had the balls and the backbone to question everyone, you know. He's been to Theda Clarke; he's talked to Looking Cloud; and the only one he hasn't talked to is the triggerman, which was John Boy Graham."
Larry Anderson: "I first heard what had actually happened to Anna Mae in 1976. It was there in Crow Dog's, at the Sun Dance in 1976. They said, 'This is what happened to Anna Mae.' I didn't really want to believe those names, Theda, Arlo and John Boy, because of my association with them through the Movement. I was so proud of being a part of the Movement - excited about being a part of the Movement - that I said, 'The Movement can't do this. Why would they do it?' I just kept myself in a kind of tunnel vision type of deal, but later on I started finding out that we were having a lot of dissension among leaders. The only names mentioned were those three. Who was behind it? It never got to that."
CLAIM: Anna Mae confided in John Graham, telling him that FBI agent David Price had threatened her and that she was now afraid of Price and needed Graham to be a decoy for her.
FACT: Anna Mae confided in Candy Hamilton and John Trudell, not John Graham. After the September 5, 1975, raid on Crow Dog's Paradise, Anna Mae conducted an interview with Candy Hamilton, a recording of which exists, in which she discussed what happened at Crow Dog's and her encounter with Price. Anna Mae traveled to Los Angeles with Nilak Butler on September 13, 1975, and before leaving LA in October, told John Trudell what had happened at Crow Dog's. John Graham was staying at Evelyn Bordeaux's house in Rapid City at this time and was not in contact with Anna Mae. Graham then went to Denver to develop his relationship with Angie Begay. Anna Mae then attended the protest over perceived legal inconsistencies related to the Wagner Pork Plant occupation of March 1975, at which she informed the late Fern Mathias that she feared for her life due to people calling her an informant. Again in October, after returning from LA, Anna Mae was a reluctant participant in the Pine Ridge bombings, before traveling in the Brando motor home with Dennis Banks, Leonard Peltier, Ka-Mook Nichols, and Bernie Nichols to John Chiquiti's residence in WA. After the motor home was apprehended in OR, Anna Mae was arrested and imprisoned with Ka-Mook Nichols. John Graham was not with Anna Mae during this sequence, so clearly she didn't use him as a decoy. Throughout this period, the only time Anna Mae had any contact with Graham was when he arrived at Troy Lynn Yellow Wood's apartment with Theda Clark to take Anna Mae to Rapid City for questioning in December 1975, and she was murdered within 36 hours of that.
CLAIM: John Graham took Anna Mae to a safe house on Pine Ridge and stayed with her until he was satisfied that she would be okay. According to Jennifer Wade, Graham signed a statement in which he told her, "The night before her death she had driven with John Graham across the US from Denver, and he had left her at a safe house in or near Pine Ridge." On December 19, 2003, another Vancouver Amnesty Graham supporter said Graham told him, "in the fall he received word from Anna Mae that she was at Pine Ridge and wanted to see him. John and Looking Cloud, who was more familiar with the reservation than John, traveled to the reservation and located her at a safe house where she was hiding in fear of the FBI. He left several days later thinking she was safe. He learned of Anna Mae's death several months later."
FACT: Before presenting the facts, maybe John Graham could enlighten us as to how he knew when Anna Mae was killed, being as he pinpointed "the night before her death" in the statement he signed for Jennifer Wade. And then maybe John Graham could decide which of these stories he wants to go with? "The night before she was killed" he took her to Pine Ridge, or that "in the fall" he located her on Pine Ridge and stayed with her "several days," and then learned of her death months later? It doesn't really matter, as both are lies. Anna Mae's activities and whereabouts in the fall of '75, up to her abduction, are outlined in the previous rebuttal - Graham was not with her or in contact with her, as any of the individuals mentioned can verify. So far as taking Anna Mae to a safe house on Pine Ridge with Arlo as the driver, here are the facts: After Theda, Graham and Arlo took Anna Mae from Denver to Rapid City, she was interrogated in Rapid City at the WKLD/OC offices, and then at Thelma Rios's apartment. Graham, Clark and Looking Cloud then took Anna Mae to a house in Allen, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Looking Cloud did drive. The individuals whose house it was recall that Anna Mae was "a prisoner" of the three, and that they - Graham, Looking Cloud and Theda Clark - arrived at about 2:30 am that December 1975 morning. They were gone within the hour after the individuals whose house it was refused to hold Anna Mae as a prisoner in their basement. Before they left, the three asked for directions on back roads to the Rosebud, their next destination. The identity of these two individuals will be established at Arlo Looking Cloud's trial, as well as what actually happened in this "safe house on Pine Ridge." If Looking Cloud's trial does not establish their identity that's okay, they have told what happened on tape and that information will be posted after Looking Cloud's trial.
For the record, in a recorded interview in 2001, Graham admitted participating in Anna Mae's removal from Troy Lynn Yellow Wood's apartment in Denver, her subsequent transportation to Rapid City, and to being present at the locations in Rapid City, and on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations where Anna Mae was taken before being executed. Graham even acknowledged being at Bill Means's house when Anna Mae was taken there before being executed . . . and he identified who drove from Bill Mean's house to where Anna Mae was executed.
CLAIM: John Graham is being targeted because he was a founder of AIM. A December 3, 2003, Vancouver post stated, "Wade notes Graham was one of the founders of the American Indian movement along with Peltier and Pictou-Aquash."
FACT: Graham was not a founder of AIM, and neither were Anna Mae or Leonard Peltier. AIM was 'founded' on July 28, 1968, after being formulated by Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, Twin Cities' attorney Doug Hall, and Black Panthers' advocate Matt Eubanks, all of who had been involved with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Citizens' Community Centers (CCC). John Graham was about 13 years old at the time.
CLAIM: The US government offered John Graham immunity from prosecution if he cooperated in the investigation of Anna Mae's murder. "The FBI previously offered John immunity from all charges related to Anna Mae's death if he accused someone of the crime," said Matthew Lien.
FACT: After a detailed investigation, Graham's claim that he was offered a deal has proven to be false, the US Department of Justice has never offered Graham immunity in return for his cooperation. Graham has claimed that two FBI agents from Minneapolis traveled to the Yukon and offered him a deal in 1989. However, in a recorded interview in 2001, Graham said the FBI agents showed up at his place in 1985 and said they were going to bad jacket him, there was no mention of a deal. He then claimed that Arlo Looking Cloud had been given immunity from prosecution if he testified against him (Graham). Arlo's indictment for murdering Aquash and his impending trial would tend to undermine that claim. Arlo was provided an opportunity to make statements regarding knowledge he knew about the case, in return for a deal in which the information, on that specific instance, could not be used against him, which is consistent with legal issues against self-incrimination often offered to Grand Jury, trial witnesses and defendants.
CLAIM: John Graham was threatened by two FBI agents in the mid-1990s and again offered immunity if he cooperated in the Anna Mae murder investigation. In the statement issued by Jennifer Wade that Graham signed, Wade states, "He (Graham) claims to have been threatened in Whitehorse (his home) where he met with two FBI agents and a number of RCMP in a park because he did not wish to join them in the police station or in a hotel room. He was told he would be given immunity if he signed a statement against AIM, but he refused and asked immunity from what? After he left the scene, he claims he watched agents taking scrapings of where he was sitting etc. and he fears they will plant those scrapings on Anna Mae’s belongings when a new trial opens re her death."
FACT: The two men who met Graham in the park in Whitehorse in 1995 were Oglala Sioux Tribal members Bob Ecoffey and Mitch Pourier, neither of who have ever been FBI agents - Ecoffey was a US Marshal and Pourier is a law enforcement official with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). No FBI agent participated in the meeting with Graham. In a recorded interview in 2001, when recounting the incident Graham said that the RCMP and FBI surrounded and trapped him at his place of work and told him that they were going to lay it on him if he didn't turn over somebody in the leadership of AIM, and that if he did he would be given protection. The record shows that only one RCMP officer was present when Graham was interviewed and that officer did not participate in the interview conducted by Ecoffey and Pourier. The two FBI agents who weren't FBI agents at all, Ecoffey and Pourier, did not offer Graham immunity. The interview concluded at dusk when Viola Papequash picked Graham up. The claim about them taking "scrapings" to "plant on Anna Mae's belongings" is one of Graham's most absurd fabrications to date.
(Contrary to the hype, Bob Ecoffey did not shoot Joe Stuntz and was not with the sniper that did. Ecoffey was a CETA intern and trainee with the BIA in 1975, and on June 26, 1975, he briefly manned a roadblock on Highway 18, alongside the Jumping Bull property, before being involved in the firefight at the south-end of the property.)
CLAIM: FBI agent David Price and FBI operative Douglas Durham are responsible for Anna Mae's murder.
FACT: Douglas Durham was identified as an FBI operative by AIM members, including Theda Clark, during the Alexian Brothers Novitiate take-over in January 1975. Durham was publicly exposed as an FBI operative in a March 12, 1975, press conference in Chicago. In a recorded interview, Herb Powless described the plan AIM leadership had to kill Durham, but said that Durham got away from the Novitiate before the plan could be executed, which left Vern Bellecourt to track him down, and then the press conference took place. Durham was not likely to put himself back in harm's way after March 1975. Neither Troy Lynn Yellow Wood, Candy Hamilton, Bruce Ellison, Ted Means, Thelma Rios, Dick Marshall, or Bill Means (to name but seven) - all individuals who were present at the separate venues Anna Mae was taken to in December 1975 directly before she was murdered - have ever said that Durham was present, and as they were there, they would know. Similarly, none of them have ever identified FBI agent David Price as being present, or as participating in Anna Mae's interrogation and transportation to where she was executed. However, six out of the seven individuals mentioned have all identified Arlo Looking Cloud, Theda Clark, and John Graham as being present at the respective venues they were in attendance at when Aquash was taken to them. None of the seven individuals mentioned Matthew Lien or any members of the John Graham Defense Committee as being present, or as being witnesses to what actually transpired.
CLAIM: David Hill shot Anna Mae. The John Graham Defense Committee circulated an article that claimed Thelma Rios had accused her ex-husband, David Hill, of killing Anna Mae. A member of Graham's defense committee passed the article around with a message from the author of the article: "Hope it helps John. We have a lot more. Say hello to him from here, there's still some Sacredness and good folks praying for him in the Black Hills." This message was supposed to indicate the good faith and credibility of the author . . .
FACT: During the murder sequence, Anna Mae was taken to Thelma Rios's apartment, an apartment she shared from time-to-time with David Hill. Witnesses have identified David Hill as being present in Rapid City when Anna Mae was being interrogated before she was murdered at Wanblee - one of those who placed David Hill there is John Graham. David Hill testified at Russell Means's trial in December 1975, and that trial was taking place when Anna Mae was murdered. David Hill knew when Anna Mae was murdered, and knows who killed her, but David Hill did not shoot her in the back of the head. David Hill is presently the executive director of the Peltier defense committee; he has been branded an "extremist informant" by Vernon Bellecourt, etc. etc. Whatever is said about David Hill, he didn't shoot Anna Mae. When mentioning Thelma Rios and David Hill, a question should be directed to John Graham: are the witnesses who were at Thelma's and Dave's when Anna Mae was held there all lying when they say that you, John, raped Anna Mae there? It's not only Arlo Looking Cloud who says that. For the record, in a recorded interview in 2001 John Graham recalled that Arlo was guarding the door of the room in which Anna Mae was kept at Thelma's, which suggests that Arlo would have been aware of what was happening to her in that room.
CLAIM: The FBI shouldn't have been at the crime scene and this indicates FBI complicity in Anna Mae's murder. In a January 14, 2003, interview, Jennifer Wade said, "Why would an FBI agent be on the scene when it should have been a police officer?"
FACT: Firstly, Anna Mae's body wasn't discovered until February 24, 1976, and Anna Mae was murdered in December 1975, so who attended the scene in February 1976 when she was dead is less significant than who actually was on the scene when she was alive and murdered in December 1975. Putting that aside, go and research the Major Crimes Act to find your answer as to why the FBI attended the scene. In 1885 the US Congress passed the Major Crimes Act, which was created after Crow Dog killed Spotted Tail in 1883. The Major Crimes Act permitted the federal government to assume criminal jurisdiction over major felonies committed on Indian reservations. Homicide is one of the felonies that falls under the Major Crimes Act, so when a body is discovered on an Indian reservation, the responsibility to investigate what happened to the deceased falls to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Tribal police and state police do not have jurisdiction over felonies included within the act. That is why FBI agents were on the scene.
CLAIM: John Graham is a target because he is representative of traditional Indian values and spirituality.
FACT: In a recorded interview, Dino Butler recounted what happened when he was incarcerated in Canada.
Dino and Gary Butlers' supporters were engaged in defense efforts stemming from charges ranging from weapons violations to attempted murder Canadian authorities had brought against Dino and Gary Butler after a car chase and shoot-out in Vancouver.
Kelly White asked John Graham to participate in some support engagements, and Dino said John Boy reacted negatively and started putting down prayer and pipe ceremonies, saying, "Why do you want to do that shit? That shit never works no more." Dino was surprised to hear John Boy say that, "until he learned John Boy (Graham) is the one who pulled the trigger on Annie Mae, then it made sense." Dino Butler would not say this if it wasn't true.
John Graham's reaction on that occasion was not exactly what you would have expected from a traditionalist. People who attended Charlie Mexican's Sun Dance in Green Grass the summer after Anna Mae had been murdered, remember that when John Boy was put on the hill, Charlie Mexican had to go and bring him down because a lightning storm came up. When John Boy Graham came down he said the lighting came to pay him back for what he had done to Anna Mae. Traditional people don't forget something like that, even if John Graham would like them to.
See the full text of Dino's statement regarding John Graham here .
CLAIM: The FBI were involved in a cover-up, which is why Anna Mae's body wasn't identified by David Price, and why pathologist W.O. Brown said she had died of exposure, etc. and she was killed in February not December.
FACT: There had to be a dead body before there was the need for an autopsy and identification, and so the focus should be on who was responsible for taking the life of the woman who's body was found. Anna Mae's body was found February 24, 1976; she was murdered in December 1975, and who murdered her is the issue, not the chain of procedural incompetence that followed. The actual condition of her body, as opposed to the folklore, is likely to be revealed during Arlo Looking Cloud's trial, and that evidence will answer the questions regarding identification (for the record, Price didn't "order" Anna Mae's hands cut-off as Graham claimed in The Province. Call Norm Zigrossi, he was in charge, and ask him what happened.) In regards to W.O Brown, it is difficult to find anybody who was involved in law enforcement on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975/76 who has anything positive to say about Brown. Check Bob Ecoffey's on-the-record comments from interviews he has done over the years about Anna Mae's murder and you will find that he doesn't say anything positive about the initial stages of the investigation; check Abe Alonzo's comments; check Norm Zigrossi's comments and you will find much of the same - this from the guy who was the SAC in Rapid City at the time. They admit that mistakes were made, but incompetent pathology, and off-the mark investigative work 28 years ago, does not absolve a killer, it has just allowed the murderers and aiders and abettors to escape justice for longer. In a recorded interview, Dr. Garry Peterson, who performed the second autopsy, said based upon his interaction with the FBI around the second autopsy, he does not believe there was any cover-up. Dr. Peterson also said that the state of decomposition of Anna Mae's body was perfectly consistent with that of a body that had laid out in that environment from mid-December to February. Those who have seen the photographs of Anna Mae's body at the crime scene (and those people do not include Matt Lien, Jennifer Wade, etc.) know that she was curled into a position on her left-side that suggests that she was still alive when she went over the bank after being shot; had she died instantly, or been dead when she fell, her body position would have been different, she would have been sprawled out. So the likelihood is that she lay there incapacitated until she died, which would explain the signs of frostbite and exposure. Those who have seen those photos also know that Anna Mae wasn't wearing the style of clothes she typically wore, and that she only had on one piece of jewelry because the rest of her jewelry was taken from her before she was shot.
Instead of repeating the Ellison-Tilsen-Matthiessen In The Spirit of Crazy Horse lines and Vern Bellecourt's misinformation, how about asking John Graham why his adopted aunt, Theda Clark, drove all the way from Denver to Pine Ridge on the day of Anna Mae's second autopsy to find out if Dr. Peterson had discovered the cause of death, and when she got her answer, turned around and drove straight back, instead of attending Anna Mae's wake? Candy Hamilton has recounted that event in a recorded interview, as well as her recollections of how the second autopsy actually came about; it was at the insistence of Anna Mae's family, not Vernon Bellecourt or Bruce Ellison or anybody else, and Candy recalled that Ken Tilsen did not want a second autopsy because he felt "it would only cause trouble." Interestingly, Bill Means said in a recorded interview that he remembers having several discussions with Ken Tilsen regarding the second autopsy, prior to Dr. Peterson performing it. And then there is this, John Trudell's testimony at the Butler/Robideau trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 22, 1976. Trudell testified, quote: "Dennis (Banks) told me she (Anna Mae) had been shot in the back of the head. He told me this in February, about the 25th or 26th of February. He told me this in California. I was sitting in the car with Dennis and he said, 'You know they found Annie Mae.' No, he said it this way. He said, 'You know that body they found? That is Annie Mae.' I didn't know about a body. Then he said that." Anna Mae's body wasn't identified until March 3, and her family was informed March 5; and the cause of death was not established until Dr. Peterson conducted the second autopsy on March 10. So how did Banks know all of this on February 25? Vernon Bellecourt and Clyde Bellecourt were with Banks when he told Trudell this. Now, what was that about a cover-up?
CLAIM: John Graham won't get a fair trial in South Dakota. In an interview with the Georgia Straight on December 16, 2003, Graham "alleged that some South Dakota law-enforcement officials and high-ranking politicians want to silence American Indian Movement activists." Graham went on to say, "The reason I say I fear for my life if I go down there is because I've been involved with AIM."
FACT: It's not 1975 anymore. On Friday, January 2, 2004, Joe American Horse, from the Arlo Looking Cloud defense group, was asked on Native America Calling if he believed that Looking Cloud would get a fair trial, to which American Horse said "yes." The reality is that AIM members have given the evidence that has got Graham indicted, so his fearing for his life because he's been involved with AIM is curious. And no, none of those people were given immunity, or new identities, or new cars. Go to Arlo's trial and you'll probably see some of them. Maybe John could tell us who these "South Dakota law-enforcement officials and high-ranking politicians" are who "want to silence American Indian Movement activists." There are no FBI agents who worked in Rapid City and on Pine Ridge in the 1970s who are involved in this case; in fact, there are non from the AIM related cases of the 1970s left in Rapid City or on Pine Ridge. The infamous David Price served out his time in Rochester, MN. Sheriff Dee Glasgow is the only law enforcement official in South Dakota synonymous with AIM who is still serving, and Glasgow is a close friend of Dennis Banks. By "high-ranking politicians" let's take a wild guess at former South Dakota attorney general, governor, and congressman, Bill Janklow. Indeed, Janklow was AIM's nemesis, but in December 2003 Janklow was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter by a jury of his peers in his hometown of Flandreau, South Dakota. Janklow has resigned from congress, has no position in the state's government, and being a convicted felon will preclude him from ever running for elected office again. John, if you want to cite Peltier's trial as justification for not being extradited, then you should buy a map and look for Fargo: Fargo is where Peltier was tried, and that is in North Dakota - that's a different state John, not a direction. Or maybe you should lookfor Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on the map. That is where, just six-months afterAnna Mae was killed, AIM members Bob Robideau and Dino Butler were acquitted on all charges stemming from the deaths of FBI agents Coler and Williams. Don't you think they got a fair trial?
CLAIM: The US government is going to cast Arlo Looking Cloud in the role of Myrtle Poor Bear. "We fear the US Government will attempt to use Arlo the same way they used Myrtle Poor Bear to extradite Leonard Peltier from Canada," said Matthew Lien in a January 15, 2004, interview.
FACT: There is no similarity whatsoever between Arlo and Myrtle Poor Bear and this is just another cynical attempt to present John Graham as the "second Leonard Peltier." Tribal members on the Pine Ridge Reservation instantly recognized that Myrtle Poor Bear had no association with Leonard Peltier or the June 26, 1975, firefight in Oglala as was claimed in Peltier's extradition proceedings. Few, even among AIM, deny that Looking Cloud participated in the events that culminated in Anna Mae's execution. By his own admission, Arlo was there; Arlo witnessed what happened to Anna Mae and who pulled the trigger; whereas Myrtle Poor Bear was nowhere near the Jumping Bull property on June 25, 1976. The John Graham Defense Committee should make up their minds about Arlo: the Georgia Straight reported, "Graham described Looking Cloud as 'mentally ill' and a 'career criminal.'" Yet on their website they say their "hearts go out" to Arlo's family and that they have "growing concern" for him. Go talk to Richard Two Elk; he's been around Arlo for years in Denver, unlike Graham who hasn't seen Arlo in over a quarter of a century. Arlo isn't the wasted, hopeless drunk that Vernon Bellecourt wants you to believe - he's a descendant of a great Lakota chief, American Horse; he's an accomplished artist; he's quite eloquent; and he lived on the streets because being of no fixed abode made him harder to find if anybody, not just law enforcement, went looking for him. Thousands of Indigenous people around the world have problems with alcohol, that doesn't make somebody "mentally ill." Do you seriously think that if Arlo was "mentally ill" or incompetent in anyway that his attorney would not have asked for him to be assessed, and then presented that as a reason for him not to stand trial? Arlo Looking Cloud is no Myrtle Poor Bear and John Graham isn't Leonard Peltier.
CLAIM: Arlo has never told anybody that he was involved in Anna Mae's death. "Contrary to many reports, we have learned that Arlo is denying his involvement in Anna Mae's death entirely," profess the John Graham Defense Committee on their website. "A statement reportedly sworn by Arlo Looking Cloud has raised many questions and drawn great skepticism, both because of Arlo's condition when he was interrogated, and because Arlo has said he is innocent of the charge," said Matthew Lien on January 15, 2004.
FACT: In the Land of Oz and Bellecourt World there might be some credence to that, but in the real world those statements have no credibility at all. Over the years Arlo has told several people of his involvement in Anna Mae's murder, and who pulled the trigger. Are they all lying? Are you calling John Trudell a liar, Matt? John Trudell has done more, and been through more, than you can ever imagine. So far as this alleged sworn statement that Arlo gave and his condition when he gave it, how would you know Matt? You have admitted yourself that the US government hasn't yet filed its summary of evidence to be presented at Graham's extradition hearing. At Arlo's trial we'll see who he told, and what he told. Regardless of whether Arlo is found guilty or not, he has never wavered on who the triggerman was, and so let's wait and see what the witnesses testify to and consider the evidence as a whole; one thing is for sure, whether the jury's verdict on Arlo is innocent or guilty, it won't absolve John Graham.
CLAIM: Amnesty International supports John Graham.
FACT: Amnesty International's head office in Canada issued a statement to clarify the organization's official position regarding Graham, saying that they "take no position on his guilt or innocence," but that the organization will endeavor to ensure that extradition proceedings pertaining to Graham, and any subsequent trial, are fair. Jennifer Wade and Amnesty Vancouver is not the mouthpiece of Amnesty International.
Let's have a trial in a court of law, at which all of the evidence against John Graham can be presented, so that Graham's defense attorney's can rebut, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and put on their own witnesses. Then let a jury decide if Graham is innocent or guilty, not a folk singer from the Yukon, or a bunch of well-meaning but misinformed people in Vancouver, or serial Internet chat-room users. Surely you wouldn't deny Anna Mae and her daughters that would you Matt? After all, wasn't it you, Matt, who in an interview on January 15, 2004, "One of these people with whom the feeling is most personal is Anna Mae Aquash - even though we had never met, I feel a loving memory of her as if she had been a part of my own personal history, like a sister. This has come through John's own sincerity about his relationship with Anna Mae." Well, John's "relationship" with Anna Mae has been detailed here. Are there no depths that you won't stoop to?
With all of the controversy, propaganda, and intimidation that has surrounded Annie Mae's death, if this case can be resolved then it might provide hope for others who lost loved ones during that era, and who are still awaiting closure. If Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash's life is expendable, where does it end? Are we to believe that the lives of all young Indian mother's are expendable? Or should we just accept that a handful of people associated with AIM have the right to decide who lives or dies, and that it's okay to take an Indian woman's life as long as her executioners are Indian? Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash's life wasn't expendable; no woman's life is expendable. This isn't a battle between what's left of AIM and the FBI rooted in the 1970s, or Leonard Peltier II, or fodder for a Peter Matthiessen sequel, this is a struggle to find justice for a woman who was kidnapped, brutalized, and murdered. Let a jury decide in a court of law if John Graham is guilty. An extradition hearing isn't a trial, and opposing Graham's extradition only makes that possibility more remote.
CLAIM: "In Indian activism you never get a fair trial," Graham was quoted as saying on January 28. "I'll stand trial here in Canada," he offered.
FACT: Graham isn't indicted for Indian activism, he's indicted for the first-degree murder of a Native woman. Killing one of our own is not considered to be Indian activism. Graham knows full-well that international law does not allow for him to be tried in Canada when the crime he is indicted for was committed in the US. No doubt prosecutors the world over would welcome a change in the law so that they didn't have to extradite individuals indicted for murder and other heinous crimes. But like so much of what Graham says, that has no basis in reality. Extradition treaties between the US and Canada are not going to be amended to accommodate Graham, a man indicted for murdering one of our sisters.