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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
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
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
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
We Are Wolves Not Sheep