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Unceded Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver BC)


Native Youth Movement - Statement on the Arrest of John Graham

February 7, 2004

On Monday, December 1, 2003, John Graham was arrested in Vancouver, Canada. He is charged by the FBI with the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a Mik’maq from Nova Scotia whose frozen body was found on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

Presently free on bail, John Graham faces extradition to the US.

At this time, the Native Youth Movement (NYM) Vancouver feels it necessary to state its position in regards to this case.

Anna Mae has been an inspiration and example to our movement for many years. She symbolized the warrior spirit and our people’s determination to resist. This is also the legacy of the American Indian Movement, to which she belonged.

It was because of this spirit that AIM was targeted by the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTEL-PRO) in the early 1970’s, and why so many AIM members in South Dakota were killed during this period, including Anna Mae Aquash.

If, as alleged, her killing was ordered by AIM’s leadership (under the pretext she was an informant), those ultimately responsible for her death are US government officials, including the FBI
for it was under their orders that a deadly counter-insurgency campaign was waged against AIM, which included portraying genuine movement members as informants.

This strategy was used to create paranoia and division, to turn members against one another (just as the FBI had done against the Black Panther Party). Anna Mae was herself the target of an FBI “bad jacket”. FBI agents had threatened to kill her in the year prior to her death. When her body was found, despite being on an FBI wanted list, agents had her hands cut off for fingerprint analysis. During the first autopsy, the government coroner determined the cause of death to be exposure, somehow missing the bullet hole in the back of her head.

Leonard Peltier, we recall, was extradited from Vancouver in 1977 under false evidence provided to Canadian courts by the FBI. He was subsequently tried and convicted for the 1975 shoot-out at Oglala, South Dakota, in which two FBI agents were killed. During this same incident, the FBI shot and killed AIM member Joseph Stuntz Killsright.

A basic principle of any resistance movement is non-collaboration with our enemy. As Peltier recently stated in regards to the arrest of John Graham:

“When we talk of sovereignty, we must be willing to solve our own problems and not go running to the oppressor for relief . . . We have been and still are at odds with the most dangerous, well-funded, strongest military and political organization in the history of the world [the US government].”

We must therefore oppose the attempt to extradite John Graham to South Dakota by US authorities, and denounce the efforts by certain individuals in our own community to facilitate this process.

In particular, we must clarify that Kelly White, a local (Vancouver) Native radio show host who has conducted an ongoing campaign against John Graham, has never been a leader, member, or advisor to the NYM. Furthermore, NYM Vancouver does not consider information provided by Ms. White to be credible.

In conclusion, no member of NYM was involved in the conflicts of the 1970s. We weren’t there. We cannot say with certainty that John Graham did
or did not kill Anna Mae. We have neither the information nor witnesses at our disposal to make such a decision.

What can be said is that Anna Mae Aquash, along with many others, died as a direct result of her commitment to the struggle for her people. She is an example of all we aspire to be as a resistance movement. She was a warrior, a veteran of the 71-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, a community worker who helped set up schools and camps. She promoted traditional culture and spirituality. She gave her life for us, knowing all along the consequences. That is why she is called a Brave-Hearted Woman.

Whatever the result of any trials conducted in the court rooms of our oppressor
the same ones’ ultimately responsible for Anna Mae’s death we will continue to advance in our movement towards victory, inspired by her memory and her spirit.

Native Youth Movement
Vancouver Chapter

We Are Wolves Not Sheep