Sioux Falls, S.D. - A daughter of slain American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash wants the nephew of a woman accused of being an accomplice to urge his aunt to cooperate with investigators.
In an e-mail, Denise Maloney of Toronto asked Rick Williams of Denver to persuade Theda Clarke to tell authorities about any involvement in Aquash's killing in December 1975.
Maloney also called on Williams, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, to issue a statement supporting the extradition of John Graham, one of two men charged with the slaying.
During the trial of the other man, Arlo Looking Cloud of Denver, witnesses testified that Graham, Looking Cloud and Clarke drove Aquash from Denver in Clarke's red Ford Pinto to Rapid City. They went on to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where Graham shot Aquash, according to testimony.
Looking Cloud was convicted in February and is to be sentenced Friday to life in prison. Graham has said he will fight extradition from Vancouver, British Columbia.
In an audio tape recording reviewed by The Associated Press, Graham places Clarke with Aquash just prior to Aquash's death.
Asked if Clarke took over the driving when the four went to the place near Wanblee where Aquash was killed, Graham said on the tape: "Yeah. I do remember that. Theda did some driving. Theda drove from Bill Means'."
At Looking Cloud's trial, Graham's girlfriend at the time, Angela Janis, testified Aquash did not leave on that trip peacefully.
"Theda, John Boy (Graham) and Arlo, they took her and they took her out of the house," Janis said on the witness stand. "She was tied up."
Clarke, who has not been charged, is now elderly and lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska. In February 2003, she refused to talk about the case to an AP reporter, although she did refer questions to Williams, a member of AIM's Denver chapter in the 1970s.
Now, Williams' name has come up in the e-mail letter from Maloney, who confirmed she wrote it but did not want to comment further.
Williams did not return two calls requesting comment. His American Indian College Fund provides scholarships and other support to students at 32 tribal colleges in 12 states.
Maloney said Williams' leadership position should prompt him to encourage Clarke to acknowledge her involvement.
"You have spent the last 28 years trying to prevent your aunt from being indicted for Anna Mae's murder," wrote Maloney, executive director of Indigenous Women for Justice.
"I say to you that this is a terrible example to set (for) our young people and that your actions are not fitting for somebody who holds such an influential position in the native community."
Maloney copied the e-mail to David Gipp at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D., chairman of the American Indian College Fund Board of Trustees. He also refused comment.
Williams is the brother of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood of Denver, from whose home Aquash was taken before she was killed.
In a telephone interview Friday, Yellow Wood said even if Clarke would cooperate, she wouldn't be credible because she is in her 80s, has had a stroke and has Alzheimer's disease.
"She's just not rational. It doesn't matter who encourages her," Yellow Wood said.
"That's ludicrous to hold someone who's senile responsible at this point in time. She would tell you everything or nothing."
In her e-mail, Maloney told Williams that proof exists that Clarke is lucid, including videotape of her at the casino on the Pine Ridge reservation showing "that she is sufficiently in possession of her faculties."
"Please do not insult my mother's memory or our family by presenting excuses," Maloney told Williams. "I have already been told about how your aunt was saying to people that if indictments started to be issued, she would say that she had Alzheimer's."
In the spirit of Anna Mae Pictou, Marley Shebala (Navajo/Zuni) — Spokeswoman-Indigenous Women for Justice — firstname.lastname@example.org
We are no longer silenced by fear
The IWJ is a unity sisterhood of women from indigenous nations located