Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Day in 1973: Marlon Brando

New York Times
March 30, 1973

That Unfinished Oscar Speech

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who read only a part of it, was Shasheen Littlefeather.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Statement from Leonard Peltier March 28,2014

Greetings my friends, relatives, supporters, and all those who support the cause of freedom, not only for Native Americans, but for all people. 

I know it’s sometimes not easy being involved and staying involved, so for all of you that have done just that, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top of my soul.  We need more people all over the world who not only care about the freedom of others, but who care about our future generations and what kind of Earth we leave behind.

I know there are prophecies and predictions and beliefs that predict the end times of life as we know it, and I want to say to you that all of these things that have been said are said for our benefit so that we may choose a different path.  All over the world there are people who seek to serve God or the Creator or the Great Spirit or whatever name you call that greater power that gives us life, and I want to say to you at this point in time, that our greatest enemy isn't some supernatural being with horns and a long tail or some other goolish spirit; our greatest enemy throughout the world is gluttony, people wanting and taking more than they need. That, is the cause of all the wars, the invasions and the dictatorships and the pollutions that face mankind. 

It is the way of our Native people that we should not take more than we need.  It is in the teachings of the Christians, it is in the teaching of the Muslims, and of the Buddhists.  It is a basic, fundamental teaching of all the major approaches to spirituality throughout the world that we do not take more than we need. It is also a teaching of my people that when you take from the Earth you must give back something back in return. Mankind has built up a great debt to the Earth, and a great debt to Nature and whether we like it or not or recognize it or not, that debt will be repaid one way or another. 

When people set off explosions underneath the Earth, this Earth we call our Mother, when they make poisons and radiation and other deadly things and put them within our mother, then they cause birth defects for all of nature, including man. This may not sound very scientific and quite simplistic, but it is a truth and that truth is being born out in obvious ways throughout all mankind. We see it in birth defects in animals and fish of the ocean, birds of the sky and the reptile. We see it in our waters and in our air.  We must find a way to stop these corporations whose CEOs live in air-conditioned penthouses and chalets inside an artificial environment that only they can afford. 

We must convince them, in whatever way we can, to respect our Earth and to respect us, and not allow them to destroy our Mother the Earth with fracking and oil-filled pipelines crossing the land, and steel platforms in the ocean that spill oil, or pesticides that kill the bees and destroy the food chain of the birds. Our Mother the Earth is a living creation, and we are all part of that life cycle, all dependent on one another.  Every time I turn on the television in the day room or pick up an international magazine of some sort, I read about and see the evidence of this destruction.

I know sometimes we feel that there is nothing we can do; but there is, if each one of us does something then together we can and will make a change.  It might be doing a demonstration and carrying a sign or it may be writing your Senator or Congressmen or it may be voting for a person who supports natural, renewable energy from the wind and the sun or other sources.

Whatever it is you choose to do, choose something, make a difference, make your life count for something.  Right now in various part of the United States and Canada there are people of all ages and all races trying to stop these oil pipelines that will carry sludge, and this fracking that sets off explosions under the Earth which also causes earth tremors and quakes.  This is an immediate danger; it is very real, and you can do something about it.

I want to remind you that if it wasn't for people like yourselves that have taken a stand for something, we wouldn’t have the national forests, the redwoods, there wouldn't be animals and various other forms of life, there would be no Yellowstone Park, and there would be a lot more species totally extinct than there are now.

So taking a stand DOES make a difference.  How we pray to the Creator for help and how we thank the Creator for what we have is important, but what is truly more important, is that you demonstrate your faith and your belief.   You demonstrate it by protecting and respecting this very nature and Earth that we have been given to live upon.  Who you are is not defined by what you do when everything is in balance, who you are is defined by what you do when you are faced with imbalance when you are faced with a challenge that requires a sacrifice or some sort of intestinal fortitude, which we call courage.  THAT defines you. 

I am not in this prison for anything that I did wrong. I am in this prison because I was a part of a people that tried to right a wrong.  I am in this prison as a statement by the corporation controlled government forces that want to say, “Give up your resources, give up your freedom, don’t stand against us”  That, is their message in keeping me in here.

I want to tell you sincerely, this is not an easy place to be.  It is a terrible place to be, but when I chose to answer the call along with other Native people, many of us took a vow to stand up even unto death if necessary. Some were shot and killed and their lives were taken immediately. My life has been taken one day at a time.  But if I had it all to do over again I would still choose to stand up for my people and your people and our future generations to protect our freedoms and our Mother Earth, and in doing that I am honored that you remember me. I want to thank you for that remembrance and of all those before me, and the ones now that do the same and know that there will be others in the future.

I can’t tell you that these choices will always make you feel good, I can’t tell you that these choices won’t hurt or cause moments of depression or sorrow, but I can tell you that there is a closeness with the Creator that is unlike any good feeling you could ever know anywhere else, a closeness with the Creator that no one can take away, and makes it all worth it. I am saying these things at this time because I get a lot of letters and communications now, from groups around the country that are facing crisis within their organizations in trying to stop these pollutions and destructions. As I have in the past, I want to encourage you to do your best to do what is right and right what is wrong and protect what we have and regain what we have lost.

I want to thank you for your support and I want you to know that as long as I walk this earth and have some say, myself and this committee will do the best we possibly can to always do what is right.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Most sincerely,
Leonard Peltier
Mitakuye Oyasin

Monday, February 17, 2014

Handwritten letter from Prison, Leonard Peltier, Feb 16,2014

Statement from the Committee/ Leonard Peltier Feb 16 2014


The times they are a changing, indeed. Much has happened in the last few months in regards to the fight for Leonard’s Freedom.  We, as the new committee, wanted to send out a letter to all of you to give you an update and also to pass along a note that Leonard wanted you to read, in its original, hand-written form. 

As you well know, Leonard Peltier has become a focal point of the injustices that have faced Native Americans at the hand of an unjust government. Though he has stood strong year after year, he now faces the challenges of age, declining health, and a political atmosphere which for 38 years has sought, and been successful at, blocking any semblance of justice for Leonard.

His dedication to justice for all people has not wained.

He is as dedicated as ever. His 38 years speak volumes to that end.  The reality is that he has done time for ALL of us, and now it is up to US to get him out.

Leonard’s struggle is our struggle. If these unjust, egregious violations of the constitution go unchallenged by the citizens of the United States, in fact the world, then the only ones we have to blame are ourselves. There is no legal, moral, spiritual, economic, political or lawful reason for the continued incarceration of Leonard Peltier; WE must make the difference. 

As Martin Luther King once said,  “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

There has never been a change to injustices without a challenge by some-“one”. The Freedom Riders challenged racism; women’s suffrage activists won the right for women to vote;  Ze Claudio Ribeiro da Silva, died fighting to try to save the Amazon; and Nelson Mandela, who stood strong under years of imprisonment’ was instrumental in the fight to end aparthied. To say the least, there have been millions of people who have died for freedom.  We must not let our own freedom within our own countries fall to the wayside for political reasons.

We must continue the fight for ALL human, environmental, and social rights. We must not lose our sense of direction or our ability to work together to solve these issues.

There have been many faces and people over this almost 40 years fighting for Leonard's freedom. When the day comes when we all see him free, it will be because THOUSANDS of voices have spoken up, volunteered, organized, marched, sang, shouted, painted, walked, prayed, and otherwise fought for Leonard to be a free man.  No one person, group, committee, or organization will free Leonard. We must fight for the rights of Leonard Peltier, but also for the rights of all people.
Chief Joseph once said “ Good words without action, don't last long” Thus,
we are asking you to join us in this fight for Leonard’s freedom. There are a myriad of ways in which you can be involved. We have developed a great tool to facilitate your assistance in this campaign, a brand new website that uses the latest in technology.  The strategy behind this campaign is similar to the philosophy and technology used to elect our current President. We watched how these systems worked, and now we are putting them into action to help free Leonard Peltier.

Please see Leonard’s attached letter, work with his team and our strategy as he asks, help us answer his plea.

-In Solidarity
The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee