John Graham Defense Update
December 7, 2004
As many of you may know, December 6 was the first day of extradition hearings for John Graham. In the morning prior to court, John was feeling some stress, but was also very positive to be walking the path of truth. He was surrounded my many friends and family members, some from the local area and others who flew in to Vancouver to observe the hearings and offer their support.
During this first day, John's lawyers reviewed the details of his arrest, about how he was first detained for a false accusation of harassment. While in police custody on this charge, John was allowed to contact a lawyer -- which he did. After this call however, John was then informed of a new charge relating to the US indictment for the murder of Anna Mae Aquash. The original complaint evaporated, and was replaced solely by this new charge. After being informed of the new charge, John was not allowed to contact legal counsel -- an apparent violation of his rights -- and was further interrogated.
One witness which the defence called to testify was a woman employed at the local police detachment where John is required to check in on a daily basis. Not only has John checked in consistently and reliably, but he had also made friends of the staff and has sold one of his hand-crafted willow chairs to an employee. John has been crafting such items to subsidize his income, since the restrictions of house arrest make it nearly impossible to find other employment.
Another development recently was the issuing of a statement by Leonard Peltier (included below) about the matter of John Graham, which is included below.
More news stories and other information is being updated regularly on the John Graham Defense Committee website. Please visit often in the coming days, and take the time to mail a letter to Canada's Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.
We thank you all for your continued support, and will do our best to keep you informed as these hearings continue.
John Graham Defense Committee
Peltier Statement on Graham Extradition Hearing
December 6, 2004
Today, the U.S. government will seek John Graham's extradition to stand trial in South Dakota for the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. I urge all of you to closely monitor the proceedings and ensure that Canadian authorities thoroughly examine all the evidence presented by the U.S. government in this case.
Never forget the role of U.S. law enforcement officials in incidents that took place in the 1970s on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tirelessly tried to prejudice the fair trial rights of American Indian Movement leaders charged with serious crimes during that turbulent period and knowingly presente false evidence to illegally obtain my extraction from Canada in December 1976.
You may be thinking "That was then, this is now." Yes, many things have changed since the 1970s, but one thing has not changed, I assure you: Indians in the U.S. continue to struggle against the most dangerous, well-funded, strongest military and political organization in the world. I know the behavior of the FBI and other government officials has not changed. I fear that Graham will not receive a fair hearing in Canada or a fair trial in the U.S., anymore than I did.
To the Canadian officials I say, justice cannot be achieved if a full investigation into the FBI's role in Annie Mae's death is not included in the inquiry. Annie Mae's death was the direct result of the FBI's activities on Pine Ridge. The FBI told Anna Mae that they would see her dead within a year if she did not cooperate with them, used their puppets to spread rumors that Annie Mae was an informant when she refused to cooperate, and mishandled the investigation of her death. Your investigation must consider the fact that the FBI's pathologist listed the cause of her death as exposure, despite the obvious bullet hole in her head, and Annie Mae's quick burial before a positive identification could be made.
Your investigation also must include examination of FBI Special Agent David Price who was very familiar with Annie Mae's appearance and saw her body after it was first recovered, yet failed to identify her. I believe he attempted to cover up her murder. When this was no longer possible, due to the findings of an independent pathologist, the FBI issued a false press release implying that some of her own people murdered Annie Mae because they believed she was an informant. Look for and find the truth. In so doing, remember that officials of the U.S. violated your sovereignty in 1976 by deceiving your courts and using you to wrongfully convict an innocent man. Remember. And be vigilant. The First Nations of the U.S. and Canada want justice for Anna Mae, but also do not want an injustice done in her name.
Leonard Peltier #89637-132
U.S. Penitentiary - Leavenworth
PO Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048-1000
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044-0583
Telephone: (1) 785/842-5774
FNGA = MODERNIZED INDIAN ACT
THE INDIAN ACT
The Government imposed the Indian Act in 1876 for the sole purpose of assimilating and controlling First Nations people. It is the only legislation in the world that singles out a particular race. This Act violates equality and inhibits our freedom. All the Acts, past and present, have been unwavering in their goals of assimilation, integration and eventual abolition of reserves and First Nations rights. The Act:
1.Denied Status Indians the right to vote until 1949 when the Province of BC extended the provincial vote to First Nations people and in 1960 they gained the right to vote in federal elections
2. Did not allow Indians to sit on juries
3. Barred Indians from wearing “Aboriginal costume” and participate in Potlatches and Sun Dances
4. Forbade loitering in pool rooms
5. Removed Indian children from their homes and sent them to residential schools where they were raped and physically, mentally and spiritually abused by the clergy and staff. One form of abuse was if children spoke their native language they would be beaten
6. Deprived Indian women of their status and band membership when they married non-Indian men; non-Indian women who married Indian men gained status and membership until 1985 when Bill C-31 was enacted to remove the discriminatory provisions made it an offence to retain a lawyer for the purpose of making a claim to Aboriginal title
FIRST NATIONS GOVERNANCE ACT
A team of academics examined the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA) and found it lacking. This same team conducted the highly respected Harvard University study of Native American governance and economic development.
The FNGA states that it would provide First Nations more effective tools of governance. However, the Act specifies all sorts of things that First Nations have to or should adopt. When the government tells First Nations how to govern themselves, this is NOT self-governance.
The Act does not address jurisdictional issues. It does not state if First Nations can make any decisions about governing themselves. This would make sustainable development impossible. The government is imposing, once again, government models that are the opposite of substantive jurisdiction.
Also, First Nations are being held accountable for failed programs that the government designed. First Nations have never had any decision-making power over their own development. I believe First Nations need to be held accountable only if they are responsible for the design of that program. The government continuously blames First Nations for failed programs that the government designed. This is the government’s way of escaping any responsibility and to make First Nations look incompetent. If the government wants to do all the decision-making, they need to be responsible for failed programs, and not First Nations.
The government is very ignorant when it comes to why First Nations people want to govern themselves. We are a distinct people. We have our own beliefs and had our own way of governing ourselves. Before the white man came to our country we lived a very structured lifestyle. We did not wander around aimlessly without any structure, as the government believes.
We don’t wish to be assimilated. We had absolute faith in the way we governed ourselves. We have no faith in the way this government wants to govern us. The government points out that First Nations can’t govern themselves. This can be explained by a lack of respect for the dominant society’s own institutions. When people don’t respect the institutions, they’ll use them to their own advantage.
The FNGA is about imposing more rules and regulations on First Nations. This is exactly the same purpose as the Indian Act, except that the FNGA has been modernized. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work for First Nations. Negotiations with First Nations, as sovereign nations, is the best approach to partnership with us, not the FNGA. - Sandra Sandy
Down with Delta Rally
On February 25th, the Native Solidarity Network, the Anti-Poverty Committee, the Skewelkwek'welt Protection Center, and No One Is Illegal organized a picket outside the Delta Hotel in Vancouver. The Sun Peaks Resort and Delta Hotels is built on Secwepemc territories in the interior of BC. This land has never been ceded, released, nor surrendered.