Blind Justice by Denise Pictou Maloney

Annie Mae Pictou Aquash (Mi'kmaq)
Naguset Eask - Sun Woman
March 27, 1945 - December 12, 1975

By Denise Pictou Maloney
News From Indian Country

Before my mother was stolen from us she managed to teach me two of the most valuable lessons you can teach a human being, “speak the truth while standing your ground and don’t let anyone ever tell you they are better than you are, we are all equals.” I came into this world aware of the historical injustices our nations suffered at the hands of the colonizers and I am also fully aware of the injustices our women and children suffer in our own communities today.

I have never understood the fracture in native resistance and grassroots justification in what morally and ethically is constituted as wrong. Wrong is wrong period, there are no conditions when a life is lost, it doesn’t matter who the perpetrator is. Speaking truth and justice does not require you be from a particular ethnic group, specific demographic or side of the law.

Our family learned very early on coming off of an era that was wrought with racism and indifference that no one was going help us if we didn’t help ourselves. Instead of blaming others for NOT doing anything, we dug in and did it. We wrote letters, we asked the questions, and though we did not for a long time get any answers, understanding now the level of betrayal in the events that led up to my mother’s death, it isn’t difficult to understand why there was such a delay.

We were met with many obstacles over the years never imagining the biggest would be from within NDN country itself and had it not been for Paul DeMain and his tenacity to keep the story alive and current, I can guarantee many would have forgotten my mother.

The great AIM warriors did the unthinkable; they murdered one of their own women and blamed the feds, knowing that the historical fear and paranoia of the FBI would hopefully keep their dirty secret. I personally have neither feared nor exalted the historical actions of the federal authorities ever. I refuse to let anyone or any event be my moral and ethical barometer in deciding if taking the life of a woman is wrong.

What the AIM leadership did to my mother is unforgivable, and what they have done to the moral and ethical fiber of Native resistance is unconscionable. To knowingly feed the public lies about their knowledge, facilitation and murder of one of their own women in the shadow of Native resistance while blaming it on the colonizers is one of the most cowardly actions I have witnessed and is a traditional abomination.

My mother’s murder was never a government vs NDN issue, the AIM leadership made it into that issue to hide their tracts and complicity in her murder purposefully. If there was FBI infiltrators then the old AIM leadership would have known about it and protected that person or persons with their lies. So who is really the fed facilitator?

For over two decades human beings knowingly twisted and maintained their silence on the events of that era for a reason, because they knew what they had done was no better than what the colonizers did to our own ancestors. I am glad to hear that others are questioning the old Leadership of AIM, I guess calling me fed, divisionary and accusing me of cozying up to the feds did not change the facts or the truth.

The times are changing; people are educating themselves and are able to live confidently autonomous without acting like lemmings of living in fear of retaliation because they have taken ownership of their place and rights in this universe. Because my family or any other family happens to be speaking about the same injustices as the federal authorities doesn’t mean we are aligned with them or against them. Speaking about injustices aligns you in morality and ethics, not in lifestyles or history and there are no sides to truth.

The generations handling these injustices in this time are their own human beings in most cases and were not there on either side of the law and it is unfair for me to paint them with the same paintbrush. That being said there is a difference if people are knowingly supporting individuals who have the blood of innocents on their hands for the sake of being anti-establishment.

For the record so people understand the feds were the vessel that carried justice for my mother it was the actions of a few courageous eyewitnesses and the persistence of a few prosecutors (who not once by the way ever tried to justify the historical actions of the FBI ) that brought my mother justice.

How sad is it that we had to rely on the federal authorities to bring justice for one of our own women that NDN country had sang about, marched about, and exalted for decades yet AIM nor any other entity could not bring themselves to once campaign for her right to life. Sadly it’s too bad our women are not as important as a plot of land or the name of a sports team huh?

Denise Pictou Maloney is the daughter of Native American Rights Activist, Annie Mae Pictou Aquash.
Annie Mae was murdered in 1975 by members of the American Indian Movement (aka AIM).
To learn more checkout: