The Indigenous Women for Justice (IWJ), a US based Native women's advocacy group, today challenged John Boy Graham, one of the two men indicted for the first-degree murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, to take a polygraph to be conducted by an independent examiner. The IWJ sent their invitation to Graham via his attorney, Terry LaLiberte. Graham, a one-time American Indian Movement (AIM) subordinate, was indicted for Aquash's murder by a federal grand jury in March 2003, along with Arlo Looking Cloud. Since being apprehended in December 2003, Graham's family and friends have created a website to recruit supporters and raise funds to oppose Graham's extradition to the US to face trial. The basis for Graham's fundraising activities is his insistence that he is innocent, but the IWJ has produced a document entitled, "The Lies of John Graham," to counter Graham's claims.
"The Lies of John Graham" can be viewed at www.indigenouswomenforjustice.org. "The Lies of John Graham" is compiled from on-the-record, recorded interviews with AIM leaders, members, and individuals connected to the Aquash murder case, along with written testimonials and transcripts. Graham conducted one of the recorded interviews, and should Graham directly question the credibility of the statements attributed to him, or others, in "The Lies of John Graham," the IWJ will air those recorded statements.
Violence against women, the lifegivers, is not traditional. Mental, physical, and sexual abuse against indigenous women is rampant throughout our communities. Our sister, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, suffered all of those brutal indignities in the last 36-hours of her life. Even at the last, as she was forced to kneel before her executioners, her thoughts were not for herself; her thoughts and prayers were for her daughters. Anna Mae is an indigenous mother still. How do we know what happened to Anna Mae? Because IWJ members were silent witnesses who are silent no more. If John Graham has been wrongly indicted for her murder, the IWJ see no reason why he would not consent to a polygraph, for if he is truly innocent, what does he have to fear?
Indigenous Women for Justice also call on Graham's attorney, Terry LaLiberte, to either retract or amend the factually inaccurate and misleading statement attributed to him in yesterday's press. LaLiberte is quoted as saying, "There's no evidence. There's no bullets. There's no gun. There's no DNA." Dr. Garry Peterson removed a .32 caliber slug from Anna Mae's head to establish the cause of death, so clearly there is a bullet. Anna Mae's body was found fully clothed, and forensic pathology was able to establish from traces of semen in Anna Mae's underwear that she had either had intercourse, or been raped, shortly before she was killed. Eye-witness testimony indicates that Graham raped Anna Mae. The US has until the end of January to file its extradition documents, so it is unlikely that LaLiberte will have seen those documents, and therefore he cannot give a sound appraisal of the content. LaLiberte should explain that, under extradition treaty between the US and Canada, the US does not have to present all of the evidence against Graham, they only need to provide a summary. An extradition hearing is not a trial, and LaLiberte should know that murder cases do not stand or fall on forensic evidence alone, but on a body of evidence as a whole. Again, if he is so confident of his client's innocence, he should have no objections to him taking a lie-detector test.
With all of the controversy, propaganda, and intimidation that has surrounded Anna Mae's death, if this case can be resolved then it might provide hope for others who lost loved ones during that era, and who are still awaiting closure. If Anna Mae Pictou-Aquashs life is expendable, where does it end? Are we to believe that the lives of all young Indian mother's are expendable? Or should we just accept that a handful of men associated with AIM have the right to decide who lives or dies, and that it's okay to take an Indian woman's life as long as her executioners are Indian? The IWJ do not believe that Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash's life is expendable; we do not believe that any woman's life is expendable. This isn't a battle between what's left of AIM and the FBI, this is a struggle to bring justice for one of our sisters who was kidnapped, brutalized, and murdered.
Violence against women is not traditional, and the Indigenous Women for Justice urges Canada to extradite John Graham to face trial for the charge on which he is indicted, the first-degree murder of a Canadian citizen and First Nation mother, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash.
For further information contact www.indigenouswomenforjustice.org
The IWJ is a unity sisterhood of women from indigenous nations located