Exorcism of Truth: The dismissal of Graham's murder charges

by Denise Maloney Pictou
Special to News From Indian Country 10-08

Once again on the eve of justice for Annie Mae, lies and cowardice collide with irony. John Graham has long declared that he should not be tried for Annie Mae Pictou Aquash’s murder in the US because as an Indian he could not get a fair trial. Now he and his non-Indian US government-paid protector have pulled off the cruelest of 11th hour heists in which they declare that he can’t be tried because he is not an Indian. 

Her life held little merit and value to her murderers but her spirit holds a life and power of its own and is hard at work in her afterlife. Perhaps this is why Grahams’ effort to save himself is reliant not on the truth, but on technicalities of the law, a loophole through which he has eagerly crawled.

Our family was devastated by news on Friday October 3rd, 2008 indicating that we would yet again have to wait for justice for our murdered family member Annie Mae Pictou Aquash. After 33 years, our family’s journey is beginning to feel more like an exorcism of truth than a quest for justice.

As we stood at her graveside in 2004 shortly after the guilty verdict was delivered to Arlo Looking Cloud for aiding and abetting John Graham in our mother’s killing, Grahams’ lawyers pulled a particularly cruel 11th hour demand for unnecessary DNA testing.

During our traditional wake for our mother we were served with an injunction, filed with embarrassing inaccuracies and false information by Graham’s lawyers in Canada threatening yet again to cancel our 28 year old delayed funeral. We wanted only to take back what was ours by repatriating our mother’s body from Pine Ridge to her homeland in Nova Scotia. 

Though a cruel blow to us, according to Looking Cloud’s testimony nothing like the cruelty our mother endured from Graham during her forced abduction and subsequent execution.

We recall that Looking Cloud’s conviction for murder came after the court was told in his own words how Annie Mae had met her death at the hands of himself and John Graham, repeating the admissions he had made to me by phone two years previously. While Looking Cloud is incarcerated for his part in the murder, John Graham has spent 33 years in a drawn-out charade of lies, which his handful of supporters believe, fooling no-one but themselves.

Our mother’s spirit has been captive in this charade for long enough. Assaulted, raped and murdered in life, Annie Mae’s Spirit continues to be assaulted and denied justice. The rape continues.

We saw that while awaiting extradition in Canada and fearing the exposed truth, Grahams’ actions spoke volumes to all but his own supporters. Knowing the US Government held his own taped admission that he was with our mother during her abduction ordeal, explains why after he was indicted he went on the run.

His lawyer requested a motion to have his own admissions of guilt to others made non-admissible to court on religious grounds. To date, court motions and admissions do not demonstrate that Graham has any intent of defending himself by telling the courts what he knows. Claiming our mother was his “friend”, he and his supporters repeatedly crossed all boundaries of decency, in an absurd birthday honoring and a commemorative webpage with pirated pictures of Annie Mae stolen from family websites.

His claims that he is a traditional man conflict wildly with his actions, and also with reports from colleague Dino Butler that Graham refused to participate in a traditional Pipe ceremony, an action that mocks the very essence of traditionalism. Perhaps most tellingly, Graham has refused a polygraph. While not admissible in court, this would clearly give an opportunity for him to appeal to the court of public opinion.

We appreciate that the account of the murder of Annie Mae is already chronicled in the oral histories of the traditional Lakota and Mi’kmaq , who know the truth and don’t run from it. As our faith in truth and decency is tested once again, we draw strength from each other and our friends, knowing we are surrounded by individuals who share my mother’s spirit and conviction in doing the right thing.

Denise Maloney Pictou for the Family of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash
AMM (Annie Mae’s Movement) Member

Denise Maloney is the daughter of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash

To learn more checkout: Facebook.com/AnnieMaePictouAquash