Extradition, paranoia, and the murder of Anna Mae
April 26, 2004
Anna Mae Pictou Aquash could have been one of the greatest native leaders of her generation. Instead, this Nova Scotia-born mother and devoted activist for the American Indian Movement (AIM) was led to a quiet corner of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975 and shot in the back of the head. She tumbled off of a cliff, landing in a field where she lay for hours, possibly days, until the brutal Dakota winter claimed her. Her murder remained unsolved for years but members of the FBI are now convinced that another former AIM member, Yukon native John Graham, is responsible, and they are now asking for his extradition. For a reporter trying to peer into the dim history of the case it seems most logical to assume that there are two John Grahams. The first is a loving father and committed native activist who in the early 1980s named an activist camp after his slain friend Anna Mae. The other is a violent AIM loyalist who, tainted by the paranoia of FBI infiltration, followed orders to kidnap and kill Anna Mae on the mistaken belief that she was an informant. Graham remains under house arrest in Vancouver and soon a Canadian judge will have to decide which view of the man is the closest to the truth.