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Anarchist solidarity with indigenous warrior John Graham

April 22, 2009

Anarchist solidarity with indigenous warrior John Graham

By some Vancouver anarchists
January 19, 2008

Anarchists in Vancouver, Canada, have been standing in solidarity with indigenous warrior John Graham since his extradition hearings began here in 2004.

The FBI charges that Graham killed his comrade Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, his friend and fellow warrior in the American Indian Movement (AIM). Aquash’s body was found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, in February of 1976.

Although Aquash was a well-known AIM leader and fugitive, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police claimed they couldn’t identify her. Their pathologist claimed she died of exposure and removed her hands. The BIA prevented people from viewing her body and had her body buried without a death certificate or burial permit before her hands were sent to the FBI for identification. A second autopsy requested by her family and friends revealed that she had been shot.

In the 1970s, the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) was targeting AIM and traditional Lakota people for destruction, in part because of high-profile actions such as the armed re-occupation of Wounded Knee at Pine Ridge. In the course of three years, an FBI-backed death squad, the Guardians Of the Oglala Nation (GOONS), which included many BIA cops, killed more than 60 AIM members and traditional Lakota people on the reservation. BIA Tribal Chief Dick Wilson, founder of the GOONS, signed over Lakota territory for exploitation by various energy corporations, including uranium-mining companies.

In the 1990s, law enforcement agent Robert Ecoffey began to fabricate a case that AIM leaders ordered Aquash killed because they believed that she was an FBI informant. This was based on the FBI’s attempt in the 1970s to spread rumours within AIM that Aquash was an informant and to shift suspicion for her murder from themselves to AIM after their failed attempt to cover-up her identity and true cause of death.

In the 1970s, Ecoffey was a member of the BIA police force at Pine Ridge and took part in the FBI-led assault on an AIM camp set up to protect a Lakota family from the GOONS. This event became known as the “Incident at Oglala” and led to the deaths of AIM warrior Joe Stuntz Killsright and two FBI agents. Ecoffey later testified as a government witness against AIM warrior Leonard Peltier at the 1977 frame-up trial over the killing of the two FBI agents.

We believe that the case against John Graham is an attempt to cover-up the deadly counter-insurgency campaign waged by government agencies at Pine Ridge in the 1970s. We also believe it is an attempt to cover-up Aquash and Graham’s history of resistance to the corporate theft and destruction of indigenous land, cutting-off today’s generation and future generations from an important point-of-reference. Both Aquash and Graham opposed uranium mining as being in total conflict with the traditional indigenous way of life. In the 1980s, Graham continued to fight against uranium mining in Native territories in Canada.

At different times, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, Leonard Peltier and John Graham all said they were offered their freedom if they collaborated with the FBI against AIM leaders. They all refused. Myrtle Poor Bear said that FBI agents threatened her with photos of Aquash’s body, saying it would be worse with her if she didn’t sign false affidavits against Peltier to have him extradited from Vancouver. Peltier said he was offered his freedom in 1998 if he falsely pointed the finger at John Graham and AIM leaders for Aquash’s death. He refused. Graham has said US law enforcement agents visited him in the Yukon in the 1990s and threatened that he’d face a murder charge if he didn’t falsely point the finger at AIM leaders for Aquash’s murder. He refused.

John Graham is currently imprisoned at the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City, South Dakota, and his trial date has been set for June 17, 2008 [now May 12, 2009]. He was arrested in Vancouver in December of 2003 and spent 40 days in prison until he was released under house arrest to face his extradition hearings. He was taken back to prison on June 26, 2007, just before the Supreme Court of British Columbia rejected his appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada rejected his final appeal on December 6, 2007, and he was extradited to South Dakota that same day. That night, the locks of the probation office he was forced to regularly check-in with were glued shut and “Free John Graham” was spray-painted on one of its walls. There is also an on-going graffiti campaign in Vancouver in solidarity with him.

Vancouver anarchists first learned about the case from the local Native Youth Movement, mutual friends and John Graham’s family. We further educated ourselves, got to know John himself and talked with him about his history. Anarchists in Vancouver (and at times anarchists from other parts of British Columbia) have attended his court dates, visited him in prison, put on informational events on the case, put up posters, produced leaflets and supported events held for John Graham by the Native Youth Movement or his daughters. We’ve also supported indigenous warriors who’ve publicly challenged speakers spreading disinformation around the case.

Indigenous resistance to colonization is one of our primary sources of inspiration in our own anarchist struggle against industrialism, capitalism and the State. By standing in solidarity with John Graham we are strengthening our own struggle for freedom.

For us, solidarity with John Graham also means continuing on with the struggle against development, against uranium mining, against the police, against all prisons everywhere. As Anna Mae Pictou Aquash herself said after she was arrested and threatened by the FBI in September of 1975, “Jails are not a solution to problems.”

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To write to John Graham at Pennington County Jail, address envelope as follows:

John Graham
307 St. Joseph Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

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John Graham’s history of resistance (actions and activities he took part in):

Early 1970s –
– Beothuck patrol by the Native Alliance for Red Power, monitoring police harassment of
Natives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

– Second Native Peoples’ Caravan to Ottawa and occupation of abandoned Carbide Mill (Native Peoples’ Embassy).
– Mohawk warriors armed re-occupation of Ganienkeh territory in New York State.

1975 –
– Security at Farmington, New Mexico, AIM convention related to racist murders of Navajos.
– Security and safe transportation for traditionalists at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Lakota territory.

1980 –
– Caravan for Survival from Regina to uranium boomtown, La Ronge, Saskatchewan, to protest Key Lake uranium mine government board of inquiry.

1981 –
– Anna Mae Aquash Survival Camp near Pinehouse, Saskatchewan, on Key Lake road to stop the development of what became the world’s largest uranium mine (John was instrumental in the founding and naming of the camp).

1983-1984 –
– Red Peoples Long Walk from Victoria to Ottawa and Akwesasne for survival and against assimilation.
– European speaking tour against uranium mining.

Anna Mae Pictou Aquash’s history of resistance (actions and activities she took part in):

1969 –
– Aquash is arrested in Boston after jumping onto a group of police when they arrested a friend of hers who was assaulted at a bar.

1970 –
– Boston Indian Council and AIM demonstration against Mayflower II, Thanksgiving Day.

1972 –
– Trail of Broken Treaties leading to occupation of Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington DC.

1973 –
– Armed liberation of Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge, Lakota territory

1974 –
– Training in Karate at AIM gym.
– Armed re-occupation of Anicinabe Park in Kenora, Ontario, by the Ojibway Warriors Society.
– Research, teaching and creating programs for the Red Schoolhouse, AIM Survival School in St. Paul, Minnesota.
– Re-organization of Los Angeles AIM chapter, fundraising and expulsion from office of then suspected FBI informant Douglass Durham (later confirmed).

1975 –
– Armed occupation of religious building in Gresham, Wisconsin, by Menominee Warrior Society.
– Farmington, New Mexico, AIM convention related to racist murders of Navajos.
– Security and health for traditionalists at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Lakota territory.

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Recommended reading:

The Life and Death of Anna Mae Aquash by Johanna Brand
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog

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