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Transcript: Interview with John Graham,
conducted February 20, 2004

Indian Country Today
March 02, 2004
By David Melmer

RAPID CITY, S.D

ICT: When did you first get involved with the American Indian Movement?

Graham: I got involved with aim in 1974, the Native peopleís caravan across Canada, just after Wounded Knee. There were some occupations up here that went down, Cash Creek, Anishinabe Park. After that a caravan across Canada to Ottawa. I guess from that caravan. I was in Six Nations country for a little while, then traveled to Minneapolis - St. Paul, and got more involved through the survival schools there. Worked there for a while with Red School house, then the call came from South Dakota. A whole bunch of us went down. And we had the AIM conference in Farmington that year, 1975. From there to Pine Ridge.

Lived in Denver, working with AIM people there. Lived there for awhile, a few months a year maybe. Canít remember. Then left Denver and went up to Pine Ridge. I met everyone around Denver. I met Arlo a couple of times, but we donít know each other that good.

ICT: You said you went to Pine Ridge, was that when you took Anna Mae there from Denver?

Graham: I was in and out of Pine Ridge a lot of times. We were around there, two to three weeks, maybe a month prior to the Oglala shootout. I was in to help out wherever I could, to be of some assistance, whatever was going down with the local people; I guess to observe and witness whatever was going down. I was just being me.

I seen a lot of stuff, never ever seen before. State violence, like the courthouses and demonstrations at the prisons. Sarah Bad Heart Bull, her story, when she went to prison, all that stuff, kind of a mind blower to witness that stuff. And on Pine Ridge, the local people, you know, like the feds were everywhere. You couldnít get out of your house, there would be one sitting in your driveway.

I think while I remember at the time, local people saying at the time, it was a build up of the feds, and the concern they had about it. Nobody knew what was happening, but there was a lot of concern, and I was watching all of that, you know.

A few days before that shootout went down, the local people were talking about how the GOONs (the Guardians Of the Oglala Nation policing force of the Tribal Council on the Pine Ridge reservation) were moving their families out.

Everybody was concerned. I remember people talking that way, and feelings at the time. Nobody knew what was going down. Everybody sensed that something was in the air. Pretty soon, more and more feds and then people said the GOONs have moved their families to Rapid City or something. The tension was high. Then the shootout went down.

Anna Mae and I went to (Leonard) Crow Dogís trial in Cedar Rapids and a few others, we all traveled over there. We went to support Leonard Crow Dog and his trial. Thatís when we were over there, thatís when the shootout happened. So we traveled back that night to Pine Ridge, got back around the Porcupine area, Rosebud, trying to figure out what was going on and where people were. We were concerned about the Jumping Bulls (the family living in the compound where the shootout took place). We knew they had children in the area. Then heard it on the news. We were pretty concerned about that. It took us a couple of days to connect with Leonard and others who were in the hills (on the Pine Ridge Reservation). Lot of people started organizing to get people off the rez. A massive manhunt going on.

ICT: Did you know Dennis Banks, Leonard Peltier and the other leaders?

Graham: I canít say I knew them. I worked with some of them at different times. I wouldnít say I personally know them. Like Dennis or Russell, I donít think I got to know them personally. They were around, they were there. I supported them in their trials in court.

ICT: During the trial witness after witness told the story that you, Arlo Looking Cloud and Theda Clark took Anna Mae to a location in the Badlands near Kakota and killed her?

Graham: I donít know where the place is.

ICT: Robert Ecoffey said at Looking Cloudís trial that Arlo took him to the site.

Graham: Not the case. He took Arlo to the site. Where this all comes from is FBI agent (William) Woods or (David) Price, made a statement at the first autopsy. From that statement, all this b... s... started from there. People have written books and made documentaries on this. After all these years, all the talk on the Internet, none of them every talked to me. Didnít know I was a major suspect until 1995 or 1996. People brought it to my attention, it was on the Internet, and itíd been for years at that point.

ICT: An interesting comment in the trial; the owner of the land said he put the fence up long after the incident happened. When Arlo related the story, he said that you or Theda or somebody had gone past the fence.

Graham: The only time he was there, was when Ecoffey took him there, he then saw the fence. Everyone is basing their case on what Arlo might have said, or was told to say. You try to relate that to people. They (the FBI) came to me the same way. "You give up the AIM leadership or you are going to take all the charges." I wonít go there, because it never happened. I donít know what to say about all that. Where all that story comes from, I got know idea. It totally blows me away that it got as far as it did.

ICT: Were you involved in taking Anna Mae from Denver?

Graham: I drove Anna Mae from Denver.

ICT: Was she tied up?

Graham: No, no not at all.

ICT: Where did you take her?

Graham: I got no idea where we were. It was a safe house. Anna Mae and I knew what was coming down around Pine Ridge. Things were hot, things were tense. A lot of her guidance got me though that, kept me alive. We had to protect people and had to protect ourselves. At the time, I didnít go into the house because it was a safe house. Thatís the way it was. I didnít know where it was. I didnít know Pine Ridge. I know people had to drive for a few miles just to get to different places.

ICT: Did you go to Rapid City?

Graham: Iíve been to Rapid City several times. I canít remember on that trip if we did or not.

ICT: Witnesses at Looking Cloudís trial said you were at a meeting of the WKLDOC (Wounded Knee Legal Defense ) house.

Graham: I was not at no meeting. That meeting they were talking about? No, I wasnít there. I donít think anybody could say they seen me there. No, I never had no meeting like that. It come up a few times, but no, Iíve never been at no meeting like that.

ICT: Do you remember, was that safe house Cleo Gates or Cleo Marshallís? She testified that you and Arlo were there looking for a place to take Anna Mae.

Graham: No, I donít remember that. I donít know where that comes from.

ICT: After you dropped Anna Mae off at Pine Ridge you went back to Denver?

Graham: Yes. I heard she was dead a long time after, when they found the body. I went through Pine Ridge at that time. Nobody could go in and identify her. Local people I think, were trying to go in and somehow they were refused, or why I donít know. Then it was after later on, I canít remember, said they identified her. I canít remember if I was in Pine Ridge or Denver.

ICT: You said locals couldnít go in to see the body. Lot of times people are missing, when bodies are found people come in to see if it was a family member.

Graham: Exactly how it happened. Soon as I heard when they identified her, Agent (David) Price, in my mind, he was confirming his kill. The other thing is, the way they did the whole thing, and to this day they never had to answer for it.

ICT: Why would the FBI want to get rid of Anna Mae?

Graham: I know that she wouldnít cooperate with the Oglala investigation. She wouldnít give up any names. She took a none-cooperation position. The other thing is Priceís description of her. She told me, in a notebook somewhere he wrote a description down to the marks on her body, the clothes she was wearing. She told me he had written down the labels on the clothes. This is how detailed, her jewelry, her medicine pouch. I donít know what Price says about that today. Maybe he denies he had a list, but I know from Anna Mae that he did. The other person she was very concerned and scared of was Douglas Durham. She had told me that she was scared that Durham would find her, and if that happened, she was as good as dead.

ICT: Were they trying to get her to become an informant? She was close to (Dennis) Banks.

Graham: I donít know, but I know she wouldnít cooperate with them. And then, well they were really Ö their wholeÖ the way they were after that shootout, they were pretty extreme. All of a sudden, every FBI agent in the country was a personal friend to these agents (who had been shot and killed in the Oglala shootout), you know. They were really taking that personal. And they still are. They are carrying out that vendetta from that. Thatís you know like, the feelings, it was tense, it was extreme. Between what was going on all over Pine Ridge, like traditionals, and you know the GOONs and the feds on top of that. Because you know the week after they found Anna Mae, Hubert Horse (body) turned up. I was pretty concerned. The feds swore they were going to get everybody involved. And they were. I went in there with Anna Mae and Hubert, when we drove in after the Crow Dog Trial. It was Hubert that drove us back in, and they both end up killed and found within a week of each other. You know, like I got a little concerned the feds are living up to their... And everything Iíve witnessed since then, you know, and his case.

ICT: How about Hubert, was he close to Banks, Peltier and the others?

Graham: Yeah, he was. When we went back in we connected with Leonard and them, and they were in the hills there. Anna Mae and all of us stayed. And all the people that got involved, other than Leonard and Dino (Dean Butler) and them, but the older ones, the rest were kids, you know, to try to get them out of there. We knew the feds were not going to let anyone surrender, we had to get the kids out of there. A lot of people laid their freedom and their lives on the line there. It was out of concern. We werenít looking for a fight or anything like that. Nobody was looking for that. It happened, and we realized, the way the feds carrying on you know, busting and kicking in peopleís doors, the search was happening. They didnít respect anybody. We had to get them people out of there. Doing that and going through all that, nobody questioned Anna Mae as being an informant.

I donít know whatís happening with KaMook, I donít know why she is talking that way. It totally blows me away. I guess $40,000.00 will do it. (Denise "KaMook" Nichols testified against Looking Cloud and admitted to receiving money from the federal government for moving expenses for her safety. She said, under oath, that Leonard Peltier admitted killing an FBI agent.) And they are trying to implicate everyone they can. Leonard in particular, and Dennis. Itís wrong, itís wrong. Itís not right they do that. Itís just not, you know. There was no doubt in my mind, anyway, that Anna Mae was not an informant. They were there, and Doug Durham was in the neighborhood there too, and I also know that Anna Mae had something to say about Douglas and probably his involvement in (Jancita) Eagle Deerís death. I think she had some information to that, and wanted to tell people. (Eagle Deer had accused former Governor and U.S. Congressman William Janklow of Rape in 1974. The rape allegedly happened in 1966. She had been struck and killed by a car while on a rode in Nebraska. The mystery has never been solved.)

ICT: If you say you werenít anywhere near the location of Anna Maeís killing, why do you think you were named?

Graham: My name keeps coming up, thatís what they told me. I guess my name would keep coming up. I was around Denver, I was around Pine Ridge at that time, I was again up here through Leonardís extradition. When they tried to assassinate Leonard in California in, what, 1978-79, I was there again. They were foiled again. So my name keeps coming up through all this. I think, I believe, the FBI from that time all down, they have a hit list of about 47 or 48 names they believe were in and around the area at that time, of the Oglala shootout. My name is probably on that list.

Yeah, we have to remember also Dallas Thundershield, Bobby Garcia, Rocky, all killed around Leonardís case from the time they tried to assassinate him. People around Leonard. They want to carry out that vendetta and thatís whatís happening. You know, thatís how I can relate to it, and thatís what I can see is happening. Too many people have been killed around this.

Thatís why I am going to fight extradition to the end up here. In Canada, we may have some integrity in our courts.

I have to put my face into it now, and see whatís going to happen. Lawyers are in touch with lawyers in the U.S.

I have some good friends here. The way this is going, it kind of blows me away. When I come out of jail, and seeing whatís going on, Iím really thankful this is happening. Otherwise they would be getting away with it.

ICT: What was your reaction at hearing you were indicted?

Graham: I was surprised, I was really surprised. I didnít even know the grand jury was happening. I guess reporters found my girlfriendís place. She told me. I was totally shocked. Holy Smokes! They threatened this way back when, and they are actually trying to do it. It got really serious.

My experiences donít change. I got to deal with it now. For me and for Arlo, and well, like you know, maybe thereís a lot of truth thatís got to come out yet. And I guess we are the vehicles. I think, you know, itís going to take an international inquiry or an investigation or something into the FBIís roll during those years on Pine Ridge. The parts they played. I think thatís all going to come out. Through Arlo and myself, they are going to distance themselves of what they did there. We are going to fight it, and I extend my prayers to Arlo. I know he must be going through a pretty rough time right now. So Iím concerned about him. Like I say, I never knew him that well, I never got to know him that well. I know the system well enough, and Iím concerned and my prayers go out to him.

ICT: People have gone public and said AIM leadership called the hit on Anna Mae, do you think that happened? You keep putting the blame on the feds.

Graham: Totally absurd. You know, people that werenít there, I guess they can speculate. AIM wouldnít, and never would make any kind of order for that. I think if they did anything like that at all, they would have gone after Dickey Wilson, (Wilson was the Oglala Sioux Tribal President) and put a stop to the whole thing.

At any time, during those pretty tense times, pretty close to getting our heads blown off by the feds, we were free to leave. Leonard made that clear. We knew there was a good possibility that we werenít going to come out alive. At any time, we could have just walked away. That was understood.

We stayed because of the concern for the people. What was happening was just not right.

Iím not a brave person, Iím concerned, concerned about what was happening, and the state violence that was going down there on that Pine Ridge Reservation. It was mind blowing. Ever since then, when I talk about it people will say, "Oh, I canít believe that will ever happen in this country." And when you witness it and you go through it and, holy smokes, it is happening, and itís still happening now. I donít think conditions have changed on Pine Ridge.

ICT: If you were to do it over?

Graham: Yes I would. Concern for the elders and children that were there. Anybody with any kind of human emotions shouldnít turn their backs.

ICT: Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that you would be in the position you are now in, charged with murder?

Graham: No. No. You know, the feds are capable of doing a lot. So when they said they were going to come and do this, I sort of had to get pretty serious then.

They offered me a new identity, offered to put me under the witness protection program, they wanted to give me a new name, all of that. I said no, I canít do that, I wonít go there. Then they said, "We will put all these charges on you then." What could I say? I said, "Hey, you are going to do what you do," because that is what they do.

ICT: When did all this start?

Graham: In Ď94-Ď95, at the time, when they were putting the trip on Arlo, a lot of pressure to solve the Anna Mae murder at the same time. It works good with their... well, what the feds are doing around Leonard, with this "No-Parole Peltier Association," I didnít realize, it was the first time in FBI history that they invested against somebodyís parole. Like, if thatís not hate mongering, I donít know what is. And they can get away with it, thatís what blows me away. And I think this hearing here and them trying to implicate Leonard and all of this stuff too, like, they are trying to weld his door shut. And they are trying to do away with the sovereignty and independence that AIM stood for at one time. I think it bothers them today.

The whole thing down there, around (William) Janklow bragging about convincing Clinton to not parole Peltier, that attitude down there. We knew Arlo would never get a fair trial, we knew that before it happened. You can see why people canít believe itís still happening. Just take a look.

I feel nervous, I donít know what all is involved in an extradition hearing. The U.S., I believe, is going to lay a summary about their case. If itís anything the way they laid out Leonardís, they wonít get away with it.

I have to put my face in the courts, kind of nervous about it, some how I believe the truth will come through. I do have a good legal team. I donít want to let them rush us through anything. I scrutinize everything they bring forward very close, and see it for what it is.

There are witnesses in South Dakota who can verify my activities, but they will come forward on their own. If there is a trial in South Dakota I would call them.

ICT: What about your name? John Boy Patton or John Graham?

Graham: John Boy Patton comes from Anna Mae and people down there, to use alias, to use for my protection. Most AIM people know me by John Boy, but I donít use that anymore.

ICT: Where is your family?

Graham: Family in Yukon, daughter in Vancouver.

ICT: What do you do day to day?

Graham: My boundaries are the balcony. I go for walk to the police station once a day, then come home here and hang out on the balcony. Under complete house arrest.
 

© Indian Country Today 2004