It has been over 31 years since our mother’s body was discovered in the Badlands of South Dakota in the United States. Over the course of 31 years, there seems to have been very few people, other than her family who have considered her constitutional rights, or her right to life as a key issue. Her name has been used by many for their own personal agendas, and to redirect attention away from those responsible for her death.
There have been no offers of assistance by those institutions allegedly designated to protect victims of injustice. Our family has been left in Canada, to our own resources, while we have waited, and continue to wait patiently for this case to work its way through the justice system.
Through 31 years of delays, our family has held fast to the understanding that these delays provide every opportunity for those accused, those indicted and those under investigation to have each and every step of the case handled with the greatest scrutiny, to ensure that “their rights” are considered. Annie Mae did not have that opportunity before she was delivered a death sentence. It is ironic, that those rights that our mother sought to be applied to all citizens whether in the United States or Canada, have been used by those accused of killing our mother to avoid, and delay justice for years.
We have tried not to judge her case based upon the court of public opinion. And, an opinion, in our estimation, that has been formulated, and managed by some, who have sought to point fingers at anybody but those responsible for her murder. We continue to make judgments based on testimony, documents and information we feel has been vetted, from those who have no reason to avoid the truth.
We are still in a time of discovery as those who have been indicted are brought to justice. The facts surrounding her case are becoming clearly evident. Annie Mae Pictou Aquash, a Canadian First Nations women was viciously beaten, raped and murdered with multiple witnessed involved in different parts of her kidnapping, interrogation, and murder. Many of these witnessed did nothing for many years, and her murder sat un-addressed for over 25 years. Mr. Graham has publicly admitted on the record, several times, to several people, that he was with Annie Mae Pictou Aquash during this time period, and even those moments, leading up to our mother’s murder.
Arlo Looking Cloud has now been tried and sentenced to life in prison for our mother’s murder. Twenty-three sworn witnesses, including former members of the American Indian Movement gave testimony, a video of Looking Cloud’s confession was shown naming Mr. John Graham a.k.a. John Boy Patton as the man who shot my mother. This was all reviewed by a jury before they voted to find Mr Looking Cloud guilty. Additional evidence and witnesses will no doubt be presented during a trial for Mr. Graham. We look forward to scrutinizing that evidence as well, in the pursuit of justice.
The federal investigation to discover who else was involved in our mother’s murder continues. We look forward to the eventual release of any, and all documents to the public in the future, either through the indictment of others, trial evidence, or a determination that the investigation has been completed.
While we recognize that our mother’s case presents an opportunity of solidarity for those who feel they have been unjustly processed in the justice system, have been denied their treaty rights, or oppose uranium mining, there is no correlation to any other trial, cause or issue, past or present. A human being was murdered, there are witnesses, there is evidence, her murderers are known, and some of them are still free to walk around. They need to be held accountable for their actions.
There is no injustice in allowing Mr. Graham every opportunity to exercise his constitutional rights. It has now been almost four years since he was indicted on the charge of 1st Degree Murder. If extradited, Mr Graham has a right to defend himself, he has a right to tell his side of the story, in a court of law, in the United States. Justice can prevail, when evidence is allowed to be publicly vetted. It is time for Mr. Graham to allow the process to go forward.
Annie Mae Pictou Aquash was committed to, and driven by the call for justice for Indigenous people and those who could not help themselves. Our family and friends honor her spirit and name, and her right to obtain justice for those who so unjustly ended her life.
In the Spirit of Our Mother and Sister
DENISE MALONEY PICTOU, for the Maloney Pictou Family. Denise can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org