Open Letter to Rick Williams, President, A.I.C. fund 2004

The following letter is in regard to the murder of my mother, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, and was addressed to Rick Williams, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund on April 7, 2004. Mr. Williams' aunt participated in murdering my mother. In the letter I indicate to Mr. Williams that I am copying the press into this communication, and I would appreciate it if you would consider reproducing this letter to Mr. Williams as our people have a right to know, and those in positions such as Mr. Williams need to be accountable to our people for their actions.

Thank you,
Denise Maloney Pictou.
Toronto, Ontario

Dear Mr. Williams,

My name is Denise Maloney Pictou and I am the eldest daughter of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Your aunt, Theda Clark, orchestrated the murder of my mother, Anna Mae, and I am now appealing to you to finally come forward and help our family to find some peace and closure.

I realize that there is nothing that I can tell you about the murder of my mother, or your aunt’s role in mom’s murder, as I have learned that you knew all about it when your aunt Theda, Arlo Looking Cloud, and John Boy Graham carried out the death sentence handed down by certain AIM leaders and killed her - and that you have spent the last twenty-eight years trying to prevent your aunt from being indicted for Anna Mae’s murder.

At Arlo Looking Cloud’s trial, I heard your sister, Troy Lynn, testify as to your aunt’s involvement in the murder of my mother, and among other things how Arlo and John Boy took my mother out of your aunt’s red Ford Pinto and forced her to the spot where they executed her, and how, according to your sister, throughout that last walk my mother was telling Arlo and John Boy that they didn’t have to do this to her and that they didnít have to kill her.

I later heard that your aunt positioned her vehicle so that she could watch John Boy execute my mother, but I’m sure you already know that.

In a recent Associated Press article that appeared in the New York Times, John Boy Graham is quoted as saying on tape how your aunt went into Bill Means’ house while my mother was being held in your aunt’s vehicle, and how your aunt, Theda Clark, then drove from Means’ to Wanblee where they executed my mom. A copy of the article follows this letter.

When I was at Looking Cloud’s trial I heard a lot of sworn testimony, and over and over your aunt’s name went into the court record. I also met several people who know your aunt; some are even related to you and your aunt. Among other things, I was told how you have said that you will do anything to protect your aunt, and as it was expressed to me, that when she talks to you about her fear of being indicted for my mother’s murder, she says that you tell her the same thing as Vernon Bellecourt does: “You haven’t got an indictment and until you do, don’t worry about it.” I understood that to be a verbatim quote.

I was also told that after your aunt Theda, John Boy and Arlo, murdered my mom, Theda had to visit Crow Dog to seek help; as a result of her involvement in murdering my mom she developed an alcohol problem in 1976/77 and that Crow Dog assisted her to overcome it. The person who told me this had, for a time, visited your aunt quite frequently, and they also explained to me how over the years you have been your aunt’s greatest supporter, giving her sanctuary in your cabin near Crawford, Nebraska. This woman told me that your aunt likes to boast about a Navajo rug that hangs on the wall of your cabin, a rug your aunt says she stole from a church in Farmington during the 1975 AIM convention.

Your aunt claims that my mother was with her when she stole that Navajo rug, but I find that hard to believe, as it was at that convention that your aunt first publicly accused my mother of being an FBI informant, a charge that ultimately resulted in her execution.

This woman, who I know to be credible, told me that whenever she would mention my mom’s murder to your aunt, your aunt Theda’s response was, “Who the hell cares?” Well, Mr. Williams, my family and I care, although it seems that you share your aunt’s sentiments.

By your actions I am curious as to what kind of message you think that you are sending to our Native youth and to the students supported by the American Indian College Fund? To date that message has been that it is okay to harbor and support a murderer as long as you are related to them; and that it is okay to obstruct justice and withhold knowledge of a murder as long as you are protecting a relative. I say to you that this is a terrible example to set our young people, and that your actions are not fitting for somebody who holds such an influential position in the Native community.

I am Miíkmaq, but I did you the courtesy of researching some facts about your people, as I read that you are an Oglala Lakota historian. As a Lakota historian you will appreciate that my family and I have given you approximately the same length of time to come forward as it took Red Cloud to apologize to Little Wound for his part in the death of Little Wound’s father, Bull Bear. The least your aunt can do in her advancing years is to come forward and explain why she participated in murdering my mother, and more importantly, who ordered her to do it.

I therefore appeal to you to look inside yourself, to think of the suffering my mother endured at the hands of your aunt and the others; to think of her as she was beaten, raped, and forced to kneel before John Boy shot her; and to recognize the pain my sister and I have endured for all of these years, ever since that moment as little girls we were told that our mom would not be coming home, look inside yourself as I appeal to you to do the following:

1. Persuade your aunt to come forward and tell us, the authorities, and the Native community why she participated in murdering my mother, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, and who ordered her to do it, namely the individuals who were at Bill Means’ house who instructed your aunt and John Boy before your aunt drove to where they executed my mother.

2. That you, Rick Williams, issue a public statement calling for the extradition of John Boy Graham from Canada to face trial for the first-degree murder of my mom, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash.

Please do not insult my mother’s memory or our family by presenting excuses; I have already been told about how your aunt was saying to people that if indictments started to be issued she would say that she had Alzheimers. I understand that there is plenty of CCTV footage from Prairie Winds casino to indicate that she is sufficiently in possession of her faculties, and I have recently seen a post on Alt.Native that was done on her behalf (I’ll send it to you if you haven’t already seen it). I am also aware that your aunt once called Bruce Ellison to ask him to represent her in this matter, that she told him the entire story of what she, John Boy, Arlo etc. did to my mom after they left Thelma Rios' apartment, including the visit to Bill Means’ house, but that Ellison told her he would not represent her.

In closing, I again ask you to look inside your heart, and remind you that age does not make an elder, and advancing years do not absolve murder. I would contend that only somebody who may have issued orders to your aunt to commit murder could refer to her as a “respected elder of the Oglala Lakota Nation.” I seem to recall that Vernon Bellecourt usually describes her that way.

As you are the president of an organization that is open to public scrutiny, I intend to copy this letter to the press so that our people may learn what is happening, and that they - like us - are no longer exploited and denied the truth by a few who have called themselves “leaders.”

In the Spirit of my mother, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash,
Denise Maloney Pictou.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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cc. Dr. David Gipp, Chairman, AICF Board of Trustees.
American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.
Associated Press.
News From Indian Country.