Picket action in Vancouver for John Graham, indigenous prisoner of war
Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver, Canada
On June 26, 2008, the one year anniversary of indigenous warrior John Graham’s imprisonment in Vancouver and the 33 year anniversary of the Incident at Oglala, about 20 people, Native and non-Native, picketed and gave out leaflets in solidarity outside of the Ocean Plaza office tower in downtown Vancouver where, at least until recently, the Cash Minerals uranium mining company had its operations office. Banners were held up reading, “Free John Graham, Indigenous Prisoner of War”, “No Cash for Cash Minerals, Free John Graham” and “Uranium Kills, Stop Mining Native Land”. After picketing outside the office tower, the solidarity group moved up the block to smudge and say prayers for John Graham, Leonard Peltier, the people and the land, outside the United States consulate. The group also informed each other of Leonard Peltier’s urgent need for a diabetes test kit.
John Graham is a warrior of the Tutchone Nation whose territory is located in the Yukon (northwestern Canada). Cash Minerals is interested in uranium exploration right next to Graham’s home community in the Yukon. The company is also already exploring for uranium in the border area between the territory of the Northern Tutchone and Gwich’in peoples in the Yukon. Cash Minerals has had a registered office in Toronto and an operations office in Vancouver for years. There are indications they may have moved their operations office from Vancouver to Toronto. Either way, one person among their Board of Directors, Basil Botha, apparently still lives in Vancouver, while one of their advisers, Suraj Ahuja, now lives in North Vancouver (according to Cash Minerals’ website).
John Graham fought against uranium mining on Native land in Saskatchewan and British Columbia in the 1980s. In the 70s, Graham helped with security for the American Indian Movement (AIM) at the Pine Ridge reservation on the Lakota people’s territory in South Dakota.
Now Graham is charged by the FBI with killing his friend, comrade and fellow AIM warrior, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash of the Mi’kmaq people. When Aquash’s body was found at Pine Ridge in 1976 the FBI tried to cover-up her true identity and her cause of death, burying her as a Jane Doe and claiming she died of exposure. Her family and friends demanded a second autopsy that showed she had in fact been shot. At the time, an FBI-backed death squad who called themselves the GOONs had killed some 60 AIM members and traditional Lakotas on the reserve. During this time the Lakota’s sacred Black Hills were sold off to the US government for resource exploitation, with a major interest in uranium. Much water, animals and land in Lakota territory is now contaminated with uranium waste.
John Graham is currently in prison awaiting trial in South Dakota after being extradited from Vancouver in December of 2007. He was arrested in Vancouver in December of 2003 and spent 40 days in prison until he was released under house arrest to face his extradition hearings. He was taken back to prison on June 26, 2007, right before the Supreme Court of British Columbia rejected his extradition appeal.
On June 26, 1975, the FBI and their GOON squad attacked an AIM camp at Oglala, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, leading to the deaths of AIM warrior Joe Stuntz Killsright and two FBI agents. Peltier was then fraudulently extradited from Vancouver back to the United States and framed for killing the agents. One of the cops involved in the attack on the AIM camp on June 26, 1975, was Robert Ecoffey. This same cop testified against Peltier at his trial and this same cop in the 1990s became one of the lead so-called “investigators” of Aquash’s murder, seeking to frame-up John Graham and further cover-up the role of police and FBI agents in her death.
John Graham said in the 1980s:
“As a people, our philosophy is respect for all living things. We cannot agree that our resources are being ripped off from us at home. We’re stuck with the waste, we’re contaminated with the waste, and here our resources are going to kill other people in other countries. We cannot agree with that. Our own people and our way of life just does not agree with that.
Today, the uranium mining in Northern Saskatchewan, when our resources, when 99% of all this uranium is leaving the country to come to European countries or go to the United States to build up their nuclear arms. That is in total conflict with our way of life because the Indian way of life is respect and to coexist with everything that is natural.”
Our Freedom (Free John Graham and Leonard Peltier):
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
Leonard Peltier Statement for 2008 Oglala Commemoration:
Leonard Peltier Update June 26th, 2008 – Medical Alert: