Commemorating Anna Mae
In the past few years, the memory of Anna Mae Aquash has been minimalized to that of a helpless woman who was murdered because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In reality, her murder is a part of a bigger picture, a ruthless campaign waged by the US who had uranium development and profits to gain. This resulted in the murder of at least 76 Indians in the districts of Pine Ridge, in the early 1970’s.
Anna Mae is remembered by her comrades for her kindness, her sweetness, and her fearlessness. Despite her small size, she was physically capable of taking on any man in a fight. She was also knew her guns, was an expert at handling them. Like all the AIM’sters who were active in Pine Ridge, she knew the consequences of taking a stand, and she continued to do so, refusing to bow down and be a good little Indian. She made no compromises, and lived her life fully experiencing what few of us are brave enough to attain. True freedom.
The Reign of
A riot followed the police beating of Sarah Bad Heart Bull, the mother of a young man who was murdered by a rich white businessman who had went out to "kill himself an Indian."
South Dakota in the Early 70s
AIM firrst came to South Dakota when a call was made for outside help get serious convictions against white men responsible for a racially motivated murder that took place in a Nebraska border town. A Lakota man had been publicly humiliated and later murdered by 2 white brothers. Disinterested law officials didn’t have the time of day to bother to investigate the death of an Indian. Angry Lakotas and AIM members caravanned to the Nebraska border, only miles away from Pine Ridge, and confronted the law officials. The sight of hundreds of angry Indians, shocked law officials and they immediately caved in to their demands. A year later, a young man was murdered by a rich white businessman, who had told people that he was "gonna go kill himself an Indian." A riot occurred at the Custer courthouse because police beat the mother of the victim. The riot lasted over an hour, and 2 cop cars were overturned, and the vacant building beside the courthouse was torched. Through Dickie Wilson, the corrupt Tribal President of Pine Ridge, the FBI established a paramilitary group made up of local boys who called themselves the Guardians of Oglala Nation (goons). The FBI trained and supplied the goons with bullets, guns and intelligence on AIM. Indians began to arm themselves for protection against the onslaught of assaults, torched houses, and hit and runs, and drive-by shootings. Only years later, did it become clear to Indians why the FBI reacted so brutally to the bold assertions Lakotas were making in the districts of Pine Ridge. Unknown at that time, the US had an eye on developing uranium mining on a portion of the sacred Black Hills, and area known as Sheep Mountain. This area has proven to be one of the richest in uranium deposits in the US. The FBI implemented their counterintellegence operation in Pine Ridge, in order to weaken and destroy the urban Indian movement, and to subjugate the traditional Lakotas for once and for all. The FBI Counterintellegence Program (COINTELPRO), targets political groups that are viewed as a threat to national security. Often these groups are fighting oppression, systemic racism, and are attempting to make things better for their people. This program discredits organizations, and its’ members through media smears. Infiltrators staged many scandals that put AIM in a bad light to weaken their popularity and wide-support. COINTELPRO has lethal consequences, as any means necessary can be used to thwart the enemy. This is why so many AIM members have been criminalized, imprisoned, or outright murdered as this FBI program includes the criminalizing or even outright murdering individuals. Also the once powerful and beautiful movement became riddled with FBI informers, and infiltrators. As the violence escalated, the paranoia and suspicion grew. The FBI put trustworthy AIM leaders in situations that made them look suspicious, which the FBI call snitch jacketing, or bad jacketing. Soon, it was hard for people to tell the difference between whom they could trust, and who was working with the feds.
Joe Stuntz Killsright was the only native that was shot in the FBI launched attack against an AIM camp in Oglala. To this day he is honoured for his bravery.
In February 1973, AIM took over a church in Wounded Knee in a 71-day occupation. During the occupation, Indians began to get brutally murdered by goons, and in many cases there were witnesses. Some murders even occurred with FBI and police standing nearby watching. For the FBI, what started out as job turned into a hateful vendetta after the FBI botched attempted massacre of an AIM camp. This camp had been recently set up to be supportive of the community members who were experiencing harassment from goons. The FBI had intended to wipe out the camp on the same day that tribal president Dickie Wilson illegally signed away the chunk of the Black Hills that the US coveted. Despite the immense show of US mercenary strength, and the vast numbers of various armed government officers at this shootout, 2 FBI agents, and only 1 native (Warrior Joe Stuntz Killsright), lost their lives. An estimated 40 native men, women, and children escaped. After the shoot-out, in extreme rage, the FBI drafted a list of people that they suspected were present at the shoot-out. Immediately, the blame for the death of the 2 agents was pinned to Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, Leonard Peltier and Jimmy Eagle, but they were able to escape.
Joe Stuntz was almost forgotten, it took 3 phone calls inquiring about the exact cause of Joes’ death, and demands for a death certificate before law enforcement took the time to record his death. No investigation into his death has ever been pursued. Dino Butler and Bob Robideau were eventually arrested and taken to court and tried by an all-white jury. During their trial, were able to prove that not one of the recent murders in Pine Ridge reservation were ever investigated. They were able to bring to light all the atrocities and conditions existed on the reservation, and they were found not guilty by reason of self-defense. In the end, the FBI targeted Leonard Peltier for the murders of the 2 FBI agents. The actions of the US government and the FBI on Pine Ridge Reservation between 19731976 became known as the "Reign of Terror." This deadly chapter in our history of indigenous resistance began with the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee, and intensified with the FBI launched attack on an AIM camp on June 26, 1975 in Oglala, South Dakota. Ultimately, there is no proof that Leonard Peltier shot and killed the FBI agents, and whoever shot them, did so in an act of self-defense.
"I'm Indian all the way, and always will be. I'm
not going to stop fighting until I die, and I hope I'm a good example
a human being and of
Anna Mae Aquash
Anna Mae Aquash, a Mi’kmaq from Shebuncadie NS, and a leader within AIM, had been out of town when the shoot-out occurred. Since the FBI believed that she’d have access to inside information in regards to the shoot-out, she was snitch-jacketed. Anna Mae, a competent organizer, leader and fighter was placed in many situations that made her vulnerable to suspicion of working for the feds. Wherever Anna Mae was, big busts followed. People would be arrested and held in jail for months, while she would be released with little trouble. In September 1975, FBI agent David Price attempted to force her to sign an affidavit implicating Leonard Peltier for the murder of the 2 FBI agents. After she refused to cooperate, Price promised her she would not live to see the new year. In order to protect herself, Anna Mae went underground, and she told many that the FBI had offered her money and immunity to turn against Leonard, but that she’d rather take her kind of freedom, then whatever they offered her. Up until her death, it is a proven fact that she turned to AIM for protection, and had put her fears of the FBI in writing. When her body was discovered in February of 1976, law officials and FBI agents including David Price investigated the cause of her death. They cut off her hands for "fingerprint analysis", and despite the visible bullet hole in the back of her head, they determined her cause of death to be from frostbite. They quickly arranged for her to be buried as a Jane Doe. A second autopsy was ordered by the Wounded Knee Legal Offense Defense Committee, and Anna Mae's family, when her identity was revealed by the FBI. Her body was re-dug up, and an independent pathologist discovered a gaping bullet wound in the back of her head. It was easy for him to locate and remove the .32 calibre bullet lodged her head.
FBI agents threatend Myrtle Poor-bear. They told her they'd cut off her hands like Anna Mae's if she didn't sign an affidavit implicating Leonard Peltier for murder of 2 FBI agents.
Leonard Peltier, a Chippewa, Ojibwae and Sioux, from Turtle Mountain North Dakota, is widely known to be a kind and generous man. On April 18, 1977, Leonard Peltier was convicted for first-degree murder of agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams, at the shoot-out in Oglala. He had been extradited from Vancouver, Canada in 1976. Leonard was on the run, and had been discovered and arrested in Alberta. Leonard’s’ extradition was made possible by the testimony of Myrtle Poor Bear, a Lakota woman who claimed that she was his girlfriend, and had witnessed him shooting the 2 agents. Later Myrtle came out and stated that the FBI had threatened to kill her and her child, if she didn’t sign what totaled to be 3 affidavits. She had never even met Leonard before. Agents had told her "they could get away with killing her because they were agents." They also showed her photos of the severed hands of Anna Mae Aquash, telling her they would "put her through a meat grinder", and nobody would ever know.
FBI march around the White House twice to protest the possibility of Leonard Peltier being granted Clemency. Many retired agents are actively involved in the No Parole Peltier Association that works hard to keep Leonard imprisoned.
The FBI had used Myrtle on different occasions to conjure false evidence against AIM members. She had mental illness, and was vulnerable to their threats. Later on, she attempted to recant all her testimonies against AIM members, on the grounds that she had been coerced into signing them. Her request for recantment was denied on the grounds that she had mental illness.
The blatant bias and the fabrication of evidence that got Leonard extradited and imprisoned, have strengthened the support he has from the people. Many admire and respect Leonard because of his commitment to AIM, and because he’s remained strong, despite his hardships. Today people actively campaign for his release. The FBI continues to show the world their hatred for Leonard Peltier, and actively lobby to keep him behind bars. Many of the FBI agents that were at the June 26 shoot-out, are now retired, and are free to air their personal opinions. Many are a part of the organization, the "No Parole Peltier Association" that actively lobbies to keep Leonard from ever being released from jail. (www.noparolepeltier.org)
In 2001, the FBI launched the only protest they’ve ever conducted in history, to demonstrate against the then US president Clinton, granting Clemency for Leonard. He had a very real chance of being released, but due to the FBI hearing in 2008.
There was also a media smear campaign that took place in 19992001 to discredit Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier has filed a civil suit against the FBI, naming former director Louis Freeh, current director Robert S. Mueller, and many active or retired agents. The allegations contained in the suit include providing the media with false information, and unsupported accusations designed to deny Leonard his right to due process both before the Parole Commission and in petitions for Executive Clemency. The FBI see the support that Leonard Peltier has, and is attempting to convince the public that Leonard Peltier is a vicious man, and that he did indeed kill 2 FBI agents. The FBI also want to bury the truth about their actions in Pine Ridge in the early 70s.
The FBI's Version of Anna Mae's Murder
After it came to public attention that the FBI attempted to cover up Anna Mae's identity and cause of death, and that they mutilated her body in order to obtain "fingerprint analysis", they released a statement announcing that Anna Mae was not an FBI informant, and later insinuated that AIM may be responsible for her murder. This was done in order to raise peoples’ suspicions that AIM may have believed Anna Mae was an informant. When these allegations were first made public by the FBI, they were scoffed at, because people saw the leading role the FBI played in perpetuating the violence that Indians were experiencing. A few examples of other murders that took place during that time are: 15-year old Sandra Ellen Wounded Foot who was shot in the head by a BIA cop. Though in her case the cop was charged, in most cases charges were never made. Edith Eaglehawk and her 2 children were murdered by a white vigilante who ran their car off the road. Jancita Eagle Deer, a young woman was violently beaten, was run over by a car driving at high speed. She had been seen hours earlier with her boyfriend, a known FBI infiltrator Douglas Durham. It was common knowledge that he treated her badly and beat her. Still he was never arrested, and no serious investigation was ever made. Months later, Jancitas’ aunt Delphine Crowdogs’ body was found frozen in the snow. She had been beaten badly, and frozen tears could be seen in her eyes. She had been determined to get a conviction in the murder of her niece Jancita. The list of murders that took place during this time goes on and on.
Today, 28 years later, most people don’t know the history of AIM, they don’t know anything about The Reign of Terror, and they don’t understand the brutality that Indians experienced in this time period in South Dakota at the hands of the FBI. Many people don’t know what to believe, and because of the immensity of the case, and it’s ugliness, many people aren’t open to even learning about it in order to see the truth. What we see today is the promotion of the FBI version of how Anna Mae was murdered, and that is that an AIM leader ordered her execution, because Anna Mae was believed to work for the feds. That orders were given to the young John Graham Arlo Looking Cloud, and to a woman named Theda Clark, to kidnap Anna Mae, and execute her.
Shady Characters Involved In the Invesigation
Robert Ecoffey, a Lakota from Wounded Knee, was fresh out of university when he became a BIA cop during the "Reign of Terror."
Robert Ecoffey has played a prominent role in resurrecting investigation into the murder case of Anna Mae Aquash. Ecoffey got his start in law enforcement in Pine Ridge back in the early 70’s. Ecoffey helped gather intelligence , and participated in the the shoot-out in Oglala. He was an investigator in the killings of the 2 FBI agents.
Today he is continuing to assist in the governments’ efforts to punish former AIM members. In the 1990s, shortly after he became the first native US Marshal in history, Ecoffey resurrected Anna Mae's murder investigation. When Ecoffey reopened Anna Mae's murder investigation, he also took measures to bury the truth about the direct, or indirect role the FBI played in her death by attempting to make AIM look like the guilty party. He perjured himself on the Stand, and brought out Arlo Looking Cloud and John Grahams’ names out for the first time as suspects in her murder. Ecoffey, and detective Abe Alonzo from Denver, who spent a lot of time buddying up Arlo Looking Cloud, both claim to have been guided by Anna Mae's spirit. Ecoffey was present when Arlo Looking Cloud when he gave his videotaped interview that led to his arrest. At Arlo's trial, Ecoffey testified that in July 1995, Looking Cloud had shown him where Aquash was killed. Arlo Looking Cloud was never able to answer to this when this was brought up, as he was not allowed to take the stand to defend himself.
Robert Ecoffey has benefited from serving the US government, and up until earlier this year, he was the BIA Deputy Director of Law. He was responsible for all the native jails nationwide. For several years, jails on tribal lands have been operating well beyond their capacity. According to the Justice Department, in mid-2002, one jail in six held twice its recommended maximum of prisoners, despite having recently had a doubled budget. In all, 2,080 people were being held in 70 Indian jails, detention centers and other correctional facilities. During the nationwide investigation by the Interior inspector general in the worsening conditions in the native prisons that was brought on by several recent inmate deaths, Ecoffey asked to step down and transfer. He was granted a transfer, and was reassigned to Aberdeen on May 27, 2004.
Ecoffey's most recent scandal impacts his credibility as an objective investigator in Anna Mae's murder case. After a 5-year relationship with Kamook Banks, he married her last September. Kamook Banks testified in Arlo Looking Cloud's trial, implicating other AIM members, and admitted to taking $42,000 from the FBI over the years for helping them build their case.
Robert Branscombe, who eventually changed his name to Robert Pictou-Branscombe, claimed to be Anna Mae's second cousin. He’s stated that he began his own independent investigation into her murder in 1993, with the support of Anna Mae's family back in Nova Scotia. Over the years, Robert Pictou Branscombe has promoted the FBI version of who murdered Anna Mae, something he’s published on the web, and in many interviews he’s given to the media. Branscombe has made statements about how he tracked down Arlo Looking Cloud in Denver. He’s claimed that Arlo admitted to him that he had been involved in Anna Mae's death, and that Branscombe wanted Arlo to go to a treatment center in order to get off alcohol and drugs, so he could give a solid testimony.
Over the years Leonard Peltier has released 3 statements in support of Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham. He's brought to public attention Robert Branscombe's offered bribe of freedom for a signed affidavit against John Graham. He's questioned the credibility of Robert Ecoffey being involved in The murder investigation, and he's threatend to sue Paul Demain for publishing false information in regards to Anna Mae's murder investigation.
Branscombe also visited Theda Clark, a Lakota woman who was also implicated in Anna Mae's murder. In a revealing interview he gave, along with Paul DeMain to Bryan Phelan of First Writes from the University of Kings in Halifax NS, Branscombe said that the second time he visited Theda, she refuses to talk to him and kicks him off her steps. He fails to mention that he brought along a cameraman to film her reaction to his visit. "Bob has an aura about him that scares people," says Paul DeMain, in regards to Theda Clarks’ reaction to Branscombe. "They smell government; he’s from the military and he carries himself that way." In that same interview, Branscombe compares himself to Anna Mae. That like her, he became a fugitive, though a different kind. During his time in Vietnam, he claims after witnessing a friend get killed: The incident turned him (Branscombe) into what he calls a killing machine: "make contact with the enemy, search and destroy, and take prisoners as sources of information."
On May 1, 2003, Leonard Peltier released a statement regarding his deep concern about the people conducting the murder investigation, and how he feared that this investigation would lead to the conviction of 2 innocent men. He went on to state that he feared this because of a visit he had received from Robert "Pictou" Branscombe in the fall of 1998. He offered Leonard his freedom within 10 days of signing an affidavit that would get a conviction against John Boy Patton (John Graham). Leonard stated he would not, because he had no such knowledge. Branscombe said that that did not matter, if Peltier cooperated, he’d gain his freedom. Leonard Peltier refused.
Despite the depth of his claimed commitment to seeking justice for the murder of his "cousin" Anna Mae, and his tendency to seek publicity, he vanished by the time Arlo Looking Cloud was arrested. Branscombe has literally dropped off the face of the earth during Arlo's trial and conviction.
Paul Demain, owner and editor of Indian Country Today, has also been actively promoting the FBI version of who murdered Anna Mae. The key difference between his work and that of Branscombe, is that Demain targets Leonard Peltier as having involvement with Anna Mae's murder.
On May 1, 2003, Leonard Peltier filed a defamatory lawsuit against Paul Demain, who authored false, defamatory, & malicious statements against Leonard. The widely circulated newspaper Indian Country Today published these various articles. DeMain has stated that, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Peltier was guilty of shooting the two FBI agents, despite the fact that the government itself has repeatedly admitted that it did not & cannot prove that Leonard Peltier shot the agents. DeMain also implied Peltiers’ involvement in the Pine Ridge murder of fellow AIM member Anna Mae Aquash in 1976.
On May 24, 2004, the lawsuit was dropped against Demain, on the condition he publicly release this statement: "I agree with Leonard Peltier that there have been numerous instances of questionable conduct by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in connection with prosecution of Native Americans in this country. I also agree that the legal, social, and political environment prevailing on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the 1970s could be legitimately compared to a war zone. In my opinion, there has also been widespread misconduct in the judicial system historically with respect to cases involving Native Americans. More particularly, I do not believe that Leonard Peltier received a fair trial in connection with the murders of which he was convicted. Certainly he is entitled to one. Nor do I believe, according to the evidence and testimony I now have, that Mr. Peltier had any involvement in the death of Anna Mae Aquash."
On May 28, 2004, DeMain issued a press release in breach of the settlement agreement. On June 3, 2004, after further negotiations, Mr. Peltier dismissed with prejudice his complaint against DeMain.
Continual Political Repression of AIM
Arlo Looking Cloud was not allowed to choose his own lawyer or to take the stand at his own trial to defend himself.
Arlo Looking Cloud
Arlo Looking Cloud is an Oglala Lakota, and is a direct descendent of honourable leaders of the Lakota Nation. He is a father of 2, and comes from a big family, who support him 100%. Arlo Looking Cloud is a victim of America’s chemical warfare asare many from our own, and other impoverished communities. After a 4-day trial, in February 2004, in Rapid City SD, Arlo Looking Cloud was convicted for aiding and abetting in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash.
In March 2003, in an alleged confession, video taped by Robert Ecoffey, Arlo first stated, "he had a few." Then he slurred contradictory answers to leading questions he was fed by Detective Abe Alonzo. His alleged confession was that he had been the unwitting accomplice, of an AIM orchestrated planned execution of Anna Mae Aquash, whom AIM suspected to be an informant. He stated a Lakota woman named Theda Clark drove them all to an isolated ares in the district of Wanbli SD. Looking Cloud stated he witnessed John Graham take Anna Mae to the edge of a ravine, and shoot her in the back of the head. Arlo was arrested on March 30, 2003, as he had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of first-degree murder committed in the perpetration of a kidnapping, which carries a mandatory life sentence in prison.
Arlo's trial date was first set to be held in June 2003, and then changed to February 2004 by Arlo's lawyer Rensch. Shortly afterwards, Rensch formally requested to be removed from Arlo's case stating irreconcilable differences. Soon afterwards, he changed his mind, saying that he was now on good terms with Arlo. Arlo's family attempted to hire lawyer Terry Gilbert, a trusted lawyer who had represented AIM members in the past. They didn’t trust Rensch because he refused to communicate with Arlo's family, and implicated that Arlo was present when Anna Mae's murder took place. This was something he told the press, further proving that he did not have Arlo's best interests in mind. Terry Gilbert approached Judge Piersol twice, offering to co-council Arlo, and he was refused, stating CJA only allows one lawyer unless it is a capital case.
During Arlo's trial, every witness prosecution presented, focused on the fact that many people in AIM had suspected she was an informant. Many people could have been called to appear, and to share that Annie Mae wasn’t afraid of AIM, but of the FBI; that she had stated this to various individuals on numerous occasions; that she had actually put such fears in writing. Also, many witnesses that prosecution called, had questionable motives. Kamook Banks admitted on stand that she had received $42,000 from the FBI over the years for wearing bugs at AIM meetings, and for her testimony. Her testimony was focused on Leonard Peltier, and how she had overheard him bragging about shooting 2 FBI agents. She stated that her then-husband Dennis Banks had remarked that Anna Mae had been found when everyone first heard that an unidentified body of a woman had been discovered. She also stated that Anna Mae had been held against her will, by AIM in Oregon.
Kamook's reason for giving her testimony against Leonard Peltier, may have been for the money. But she may have implicated her ex-husband Dennis Banks for personal reasons. It has been documented, that Anna Mae was having an affair with Kamook's husband Dennis Banks, something Kamook has known of since August of 1975.
During Arlo's trial, Rensch made few motions and no competency motion based on the fact that Arlo has an alcohol and drug problem, and that he was vulnerable to manipulation by Ecoffey and Alonzo who were trying to make this case. During his trial, was not allowed to take the stand to defend himself. All that was shown was the video taped interview he had given. His defense called only one witness, and that was FBI agent David Price. David Price was the FBI agent who Anna Mae had said that she was hiding out from, because he had threatened her life, and who had been one of the agents who was involved the attempted cover-up of her identity and cause of death during the first autopsy. He was questioned for 10 minutes on Anna Mae, and whether she was an FBI informant, which she was not.
After the trial, Rensch told Arlo and his family that only he could file the appeal, effectively blocking Arlo from obtaining competent legal assistance. Soon, however, he resigned from the case after Arlo made derogatory remarks about him to the press! On May 3, Arlo's new lawyer Terry Gilbert appealed of Arlo's conviction, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
John Graham's Extradition hearing begins December 6, 2004 in Vancouver, Canada
John Graham is a Tuchone from the Yukon, and a father of 8. He has been a committed activist for most of his life. He first got involved in the uranium struggle with the American Indian Movement in South Dakota in the mid-1970s. In the 80s and early 90s he was active nationally, and internationally in fighting against uranium mining in N. Saskatchewan, where the richest uranium mines inthe world are located. He was also a part of the successful struggle against the development of uranium mining in British Columbia, which brought about a province-wide moratorium banning uranium extraction.
John was living in Vancouver, and ran with the local Red Power group NARP, (North American Alliance to Red Power) in 1975, when he first got involved with AIM. John has stated that Anna Mae was his sister, and that they stuck together because natives from "Canada" tended to be given a harder time by their "U.S" brothers and sisters. In fact, he had graduated from the Little Red School, an AIM school in Minneapolis. Anna Mae had been teaching there at the time! John stated that his specific job was to drive AIMsters on the run, to where they needed to go, and that Anna Mae was on the run, hiding out from the FBI agent David Price and a violent infiltrator named Douglas Durham. He’s stated that he drove Anna Mae from Denver to Rapid City, to a safe house on Pine Ridge. He was helping her hide out. The nature of "safe houses" is that they were highly secure. The identity of the people who had the safe houses, and even the people who were drivers, or who were assisting the people who were underground, didn’t necessarily know everyone involved. The purpose of this was to ensure the complete safety of who they were helping.
The FBI started to visit John in the mid-90’s. On 4 separate visits, the FBI offered him immunity, and offered to give him a new identity, if he testified against any of the former AIM leaders in ordering Anna Mae's execution. He refused. On their last visit, they stated that this would be his last chance to cooperate, and if he would not testify, that he would be facing the charges of her murder himself. They told him that they could, and that they would ruin his life.
On December 1, 2003, John Graham was arrested in Vancouver, Canada where he had been working. He never hid out, despite being aware that he had been indicted in the US on March 30, 2003, based on Arlo Looking Clouds’ questionable videotaped confession. His friends and family organized and fundraised to make his $50,000 bail. This involved a lot of sacrifice, especially from his family who sold their trap-line, their traditional way of living off the land. Since his release, he has been under house arrest, and has literally no access to any sort of financial assistance. In February, the US formally filed their request for his extradition to South Dakota to be tried for Anna Mae's murder. His extradition trial is scheduled to begin December 6, 2004.
There is no physical evidence like a gun that the bullet could be traced to, or DNA. Furthermore, John Graham is not a US citizen, so why should he be tried in a US court? Furthermore, US and Canadian court systems have no jurisdiction or authority over indigenous people. Indigenous People have complete rights to practice our own justice systems, something recognized in Canadian Law.
If John were to go to trial for Anna Mae's murder, it could be held in Canada, as chances for a fair trial for an Indian in South Dakota is pretty slim. But a fair trial for a former AIM member in the US itself is next to impossible. Both John and Anna Mae were born and bred in Canada; it is legal for the trial to take place in Canada.
This extradition process is obviously very serious, but luckily John Graham has an excellent legal team that includes some of Canada’s’ top dogs, extradition lawyer Terry LaLiberte, and defense attorney Greg Delbigio, and also the reputable Kassandra Cronin, and Howard Rubin.
It is important that people be educated on the continued political repression of former AIM members, and that there is active support for Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham in their current struggles. The recent targeting of Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham is only the beginning. The FBI version of Anna Mae's murder has been that John Graham was acting on orders from an AIM leader. Over the years, the FBI will attempt to bring down more people who were once a part of the American Indian Movement.
A Personal Note from the Editor
John Graham and Arlo Looking Clouds current legal struggle for their own personal freedom is a sign for any native that is willing to stand up to protect their lands. What has happened to AIM in the past, and what is happening to Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham today, is a loud and clear message being sent out to all land defenders. This is a threat being made to anyone who dares stand up and get in the way of the profits that corporations that run this world get from stealing our lands. Now is the time to come together and make a strong stand. We will be tested more and more in the coming years.
Sources: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse-Peter Matthiessen, Lakota Woman-Mary Crow Dog, Leonard Peltier Statements, Arlo Looking Clouds court case transcripts, Agents of Repression-Ward Churchill, Looking Through the Arlo Stories-Janice Shmidt, Graham Defense Committee, Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Associated Press archives, Bryan Phelan and BBC.