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More than 30 years later, the suspected gunman in the death of an American Indian Movement activist is finally scheduled to stand trial for Anna Mae Aquash’s execution-style murder. John Boy Graham, 52, was recently extradited from Vancouver, and will be go on trial June 17. Aquash was abducted from a Denver home in December 1975 and driven by Graham and another AIM member, Arlo Looking Cloud, to South Dakota’s Badlands. AIM leaders were said to have suspected her of being a government informant. In “Broken Treaties,” our award-winning 2004 piece by Maximillian Potter, Looking Cloud described what happened next:
Looking Cloud tells me he was present on that night in December 1975 when Aquash, with her hands tied, was marched from a Denver house and put into the back of a red Ford Pinto. He says he drove that Pinto to the Badlands and was within feet of her when she was shot, while she knelt and prayed for her two young daughters. However, he insists, two other people, American Indian Movement members, also were there every step of the way and barking orders. He says one of them was the killer. And he swears he had no idea Aquash would be killed until the trigger was pulled. He describes the person he was then as a drunken 22-year-old following the commands of AIM foot soldiers, a group he viewed with both admiration and fear.
In 2003, Looking Cloud was a homeless alcoholic living back on the streets of Denver when he arrested. Today he is serving a life sentence for Aquash’s murder, despite a government promise of immunity if he provided testimony against Graham and others involved.