Murder, Wrapped in a Blanket
Details about the events surrounding hearings of John Graham, accused murderer of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Includes updated (May 16th) info regarding Robert Robideau and his cousin Leonard Peltier. The current flap about a letter written by Peltier is also discussed.
Murder, Wrapped in a Blanket
by antoinette nora claypoole
"It is wonderful to write to you. I am actually pleased to be able to take the time to write to you all. I love you all very much."
--Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, Mikmaq
An interview with a survivor of the Indian Wars, 20th century style. I sit in a humble duplex on the eastern edge of Portland, Oregon. Fog shifting around like the shadows of ancestors. Haunted by the murders of their People. Another time and place consumes our talk. Sitting with Robert Robideau, member of the American Indian Movement who has worked tirelessly for his cousin, Leonard Peltier. Remembering when they all had so much to gain.
"She asked me once, there at the Jumping Bull Camp, 'Can I be part of the Northwest AIM group, with you?" Annie Mae Pictou Aquash. Talking to Robert Robideau back in 1975. Just a few months before she was found brutally murdered. They were young warriors trying to survive the FBI agents sent to destroy the movement. Robideau remembers more: "She was in with so many of our leaders. I didn't know then that she was in danger. I live with the fact that we in the Northwest could have protected her".
Robideau takes this knowledge, this memory seriously. As he tours for his cousin, Peltier, he talks about who killed Annie Mae. He believes John Graham, Tuchone from the Yukon Territory is guilty. And said so on a recent tour in Vancouver, B.C. There Robideau met attacks on his position. He was confronted by people who called him a Fed. And mostly he realized that supporting his cousin, Peltier, is as dangerous now as it was when he first met Annie Mae.
Robideau is currently being attacked by supporters of John Graham. Some people loathe him. Others know that his work and committment to his cousin's freedom are undying. Peltier distanced himself from Graham, the accused murderer of Anna Mae and Robideau has supported that position. Something which causes stirs into a pot ready to boil over. Peltier's recent attorney, Barry Bachrach, stepped down due to Peltier's inability to track/trust efforts made on his behalf. Still, his sentiments run deep. Today I say: "Robideau certainly created quite a stir while supporting his cousin, Leonard Peltier, would you agree?" Bachrach's reply a wellspring, a generosity of spirit: "Yes he does, and for me it has been my privilege to know him."
Despite the controversy which surrounds the murder of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash, and Peltier's understandable struggle to remain lucid after 30 years of wrongful incarceration, Robideau continues to believe his work is essential. His recent tour to Vancouver, B.C. a testament. To the worldwide efforts to free his cousin.
Robideau says he didn't go north to talk about Graham, as his opponents accuse him of doing. A serious, perplexed explanation prevails. " They didnt want to hear about the freedom campaign for Leonard..only about Graham. I went to Canada to speak solely about the freedom campaign for Leonard, which Graham and his supporters disrupted". According to an account by Rex Weyler, at least one woman was arrested in confrontation at a Peltier event. But where is Graham in all this? " I offered to meet with Graham under any conditions they choose. They declined", Robideau explains with a certainty he knows to be fact.
And now. A random letter Peltier wrote in late April. Surfaces. On May 13th Graham supporters begin blasting Robideau. Again. The letter is posted publicly. A sad rant by Peltier, against his cousin. Robideau says he will resign from the committee. Peltier refuses to accept and as I write this is suppposedly preparing a public apology. To his cousin and to former attorney, Barry Bachrach. At best it will relect the fact that Leonard Peltier trusts his cousin with his life". And at least we imagine it will reveal what happens to someone who has been suffering under the gun of the injustice.
Peltier, on May 16th 2007, did in fact offer an apology. "I did him (Bob) a great disservice and caused him needless embarrassment in the community and undercut the good work he has done for me by what I wrote. I do not readily admit mistakes, but I made a big mistake by writing what I did about Bob."
The entire story is complex. Represents the nature of living in Indian Country. On both sides of any border indigenous people continue their struggle to survive all that has been to done to them.
The story keeps repeating itself. The paradoxes of a Patriot Act foreshadowed in Wounded Knee. So long ago by now. A replay, agents of fear abound. One person claims innocence while others yell "lynch". Me? I keep saying let's not silence truth. The words of Matthew Lien, an in-the-trenches friend, a Graham supporter, resound: "I'm only hoping for justice and truth, which translates into John's (Graham) freedom, and that those responsible for Anna Mea's death be identified."
The tape recorder not quite an MP3 player. Robideau says alot more to me. About what he believes of Graham's guilt. But why all this fury against you, I ask him. His reply resonates still... " They are afraid of me. Fear can be your worst enemy......"
Yes fear our great demise. Love the reprise so many fear. Still. We want to keep oursleves safe from the heat, the turbulance of this flight. Into desire. For resolve. Maybe Anna Mae can help with this. She explains it best. From a jail cell in Vancouver, Wa. Nov. 1975:
" This jail is so cold I am sitting at this table with a blanket wrapped around me. We have a broken window that they tried to patch up but the winds are strong today. It dropped to 15 degrees last nite and I'm sure it colder today. On our way over here yesterday I had the opportunity to gaze upon Mt. Hood. What a beautiful sight. Got to sign off-lawyer to take letter out.Love forever
Annie Mae (Aquash)"Naguset Eask" Sun Woman.
The years have eased none of the pain. Her murder. Our loss will resound 200 years beyond the end of time.
May 16, 2007
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