VANCOUVER, B.C. - John Graham, charged with the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash is nervous about facing a court in the United States.
He said he will fight extradition from his native Canada when the hearing starts March 1.
"I feel nervous, I don't know what all is involved in an extradition hearing. The U.S., I believe, is going to lay a summary about their case. If it's anything the way they laid out Leonard's [Peltier], they won't get away with it," Graham said.
Graham spoke with Indian Country Today by telephone, the following is part of what he said about his involvement with AIM and the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash.
"I have to put my face in the courts; kind of nervous about it. Somehow I believe the truth will come through."
The truth as Graham tells it, is that he was not at the location in the Badlands of South Dakota in 1975 when Pictou-Aquash was killed. He does admit he drove her from Denver. This is where his story varies from that heard at the recent trial of Arlo Looking Cloud who was convicted of murder.
"I was living in Denver, working with AIM people there. I lived there for a while, don't know, a few months, a year maybe, I can't remember. Then left Denver and went up to Pine Ridge. I met everyone around Denver. I met Arlo a couple of times; we don't know each other that good."
At Looking Cloud's trial, witness after witness said Looking Cloud told them the story that he was at the scene of the killing and that Graham shot Pictou-Aquash. Also the prosecution said she was tied up at all times and guarded from Denver to the moment of her death. Graham said she was not tied up and left Denver without force.
At trial, Robert Ecoffey, director of BIA law enforcement said Looking Cloud took himself and two other agents to the site in the Badlands.
"Not the case. He took Arlo to the site. Where this all comes from FBI agent [William] Woods or [agent David] Price, made a statement at the first autopsy. From that statement, all this b? s? started from there. People have written books and made documentaries on this. After all these years, all the talk, on the Internet, none of them ever talked to me.
"Didn't know I was a major suspect until '95 or '96. People brought it to my attention, it was on the Internet and it's been for years at that point.
"Everyone is basing their case on what Arlo might have said, or was told to say. You try to relate that to people. They (the FBI) came to me the same way. You give up the AIM leadership or you are going to take all the charges. I won't go there, because it never happened. I don't know what to say about all that. Where all that story comes from, I got no idea. It totally blows me away that it got as far as it did."
Graham said he drove Pictou-Aquash from Denver to Pine Ridge and that she was not tied up. Where did he take her?
"I got no idea where we were. It was a safe house. Anna Mae and I knew what was coming down around Pine Ridge. Things were hot, things were tense. A lot of her guidance got me though that, kept me alive. We had to protect people and had to protect ourselves. At the time, I didn't go into the house, because it was a safe house. That's the way it was. I didn't know where it was. I didn't know Pine Ridge, I know people had to drive for a few miles to get to different places."
As far as taking Pictou-Aquash to Rapid City, as witnesses said?
"I've been to Rapid City several times. I can't remember on that trip if we did or not."
But witness said he was seen at the Wounded Knee Legal Defense Offense Committee house.
"No I never had no meeting like that. No I've never been at no meeting like that."
When did Graham hear about the death of Pictou-Aquash?
"Heard she was dead a long time after, when they found the body. I went through Pine Ridge at that time. Nobody could go in and identify her. Local people I think were trying to go in and somehow they were refused or why I don't know. Then it was after later on, I can't remember, said they identified her. I can't remember if I was in Pine Ridge or Denver.
"Soon as I heard when they identified her, Agent Price, in my mind, he was confirming his kill. The other thing is, the way they did the whole thing and to this day they never had to answer for it."
And why kill Pictou-Aquash?
"I know that she wouldn't cooperate with the Oglala investigation. She wouldn't give up any names. She took a non-cooperation position. The other thing, Price's description of her. She told me. In a notebook somewhere, description down to the marks on her body, the clothes she was wearing, she told me he had written down the labels on the clothes. This is how detailed, her jewelry, her medicine pouch, and I don't know what Price says about that today. Maybe he denies he had a list, but I know from Anna Mae that he did. The other person she was very concerned and scared of was Douglas Durham. She had told me that she was scared that Durham would find her, and if that happened, she was as good as dead."
Durham was a known informant for the FBI working with AIM. Also Pictou-Aquash had a bracelet on when her body was found.
And why is Graham indicted for the murder of Pictou-Aquash?
"My name keeps coming up. That's what they told me. I guess my name would keep coming up. I was around Denver, I was around Pine Ridge at that time, I was again up here [Canada] through Leonard's extradition. When they tried to assassinate Leonard in California in what, 1978 -79, I was there again. They were foiled again. So my name keeps coming up through all this. I think, I believe, the FBI from that time all down there have a hit list of about 47 or 48 names they believe was in and around the area at that time, of the Oglala Shoot out. My name is probably on that list."
Did anyone from AIM call for the hit on Pictou-Aquash?
"Totally absurd, you know, people that weren't there I guess they can speculate. AIM wouldn't and never would make any kind of order for that. I think if they did anything like that at all, they would have gone after Dickey Wilson, put a stop to the whole thing.
"At any time, during those pretty tense times, pretty close to getting our heads blown off by the feds, we were free to leave. Leonard made that clear, we knew there was a good possibility that we weren't going to come out alive. At any time we could have just walked away, that was understood."
Graham said the FBI came to him in 1994 or 1995 and offered a deal if he would give up the AIM leadership.
"Offered me new identity, offered to put me under the witness protection program, they wanted to give me a new name, all of that. When I said no, I can't do that, I won't go there. Then they said, we will put all these charges on you then. What could I say. Hey, you are going to do what you do, because that is what they do."
To read the complete interview with John Graham, visit www.indiancountry.com.