Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Never Forget: Wounded Knee (29 December 1890)

The Wounded Knee Massacre
December 29, 1890

An Account of The Massacre

By August of 1890, the U.S. government was fearful that the Ghost Dance was actually a war dance and, in time, the dancers would turn to rioting. By November, the War Department sent troops to occupy the Lakota camps at Pine Ridge and Rosebud, convinced that the dancers were preparing to do battle against the government. In reality, the Indians were bracing themselves to defend their rights to continue performing the sacred ceremonies. In reaction to the military encampment, the Lakotas planned various strategies to avoid confrontation with the soldiers, but the military was under orders to isolate Ghost Dance leaders from their devotees.

The Hunkpapa Sioux Chief, Sitting Bull, had returned from Canada with a promise of a pardon following the Battle at Little Bighorn and was an advocate of the Ghost Dance. At his request, Kicking Bear traveled to the Standing Rock reservation to preach and made numerous Hunkpapa Sioux converts to the new religion.

Kicking Bear:

"My brothers, I bring to you the promise of a day in which there will be no white man to lay his hand on the bridle of the Indian horse; when the red men of the prairie will rule the world... I bring you word from your fathers the ghosts, that they are now marching to join you, led by the Messiah who came once to live on earth with the white man, but was cast out and killed by them."

Kicking Bear (quoting Wovoka):

"The earth is getting old, and I will make it new for my chosen people, the Indians, who are to inhabit it, and among them will be all those of their ancestors who have died... I will cover the earth with new soil to a depth of five times the height of a man, and under this new soil will be buried the whites... The new lands will be covered with sweet-grass and running water and trees, and herds of buffalo and ponies will stray over it, that my red children may eat and drink, hunt and rejoice."

(Source: Eyewitness at Wounded Knee, 1991)

Reservation agents began to fear that Sitting Bull’s influence over other tribes would lead to violence. By December reservation official grew increasingly alarmed by the Ghost Dance outbreak, and the military was called upon to locate and arrest those who were considered agitators, such as the Sioux Chiefs, Sitting Bull and Big Foot.

On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull and eight of his warriors were murdered by agency police sent to arrest him at the Standing Rock reservation. The official reason given for the shooting claimed that he had resisted arrest. Fearing further reprisal, some of his followers fled in terror to Big Foot’s camp of Miniconjou Sioux. While many of Big Foot’s group were devout Ghost Dancers, others had already begun to leave the religion. Old Big Foot was a peaceful leader and was not attempting to cause further agitation of the situation. But after the slaying of Sitting Bull, Big Foot was placed on the list of "fomenters of disturbances," and his arrest had been ordered. Upon arrest, his group was to be transferred to Fort Bennett.

Under cover of the night on December 23, a band of 350 people left the Miniconjou village on the Cheyenne River to begin a treacherous 150-mile, week-long trek through the Badlands to reach the Pine Ridge Agency.

Although Chief Big Foot was aged and seriously ill with pneumonia, his group traversed the rugged, frozen terrain of the Badlands in order to reach the protection of Chief Red Cloud who had promised them food, shelter, and horses. It is reported that both Big Foot and Red Cloud wanted peace. On December 28, the group was surrounded by Major Samuel M. Whitside and the Seventh Calvary (the old regiment of General George Custer). Big Foots band hoisted a white flag, but the army apprehended the Indians, forcing them to the bank of Wounded Knee Creek. There, four large Hotchkiss cannons had been menacingly situated atop both sides of the valley overlooking the encampment, ready to fire upon the Indians.

A rumor ran through the camp that the Indians were to be deported to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) which had the reputation for its living conditions being far worse than any prison. The Lakotas became panicky, and historians have surmised that if the misunderstanding had been clarified that they were to be taken to a different camp, the entire horrific incident might have been averted.

That evening, Colonel James Forsyth arrived with reinforcements and took over as commander of the operation. The Indians were not allowed to sleep as the soldiers interrogated them through the night. (It has been reported that many of the questions were to determine who among the group had been at Little Bighorn fourteen years earlier. In addition, eyewitnesses claimed that the soldiers had been drinking to celebrate the capture of the ailing Big Foot.)

The soldiers ordered that the Indians be stripped of their weapons, and this further agitated an increasingly tense and serious situation. While the soldiers searched for weapons, a few of the Indians began singing Ghost Dance songs, and one of them (thought to be the medicine man, Yellow Bird, although this is still disputed by historians) threw dirt in a ceremonial act. This action was misunderstood by the soldiers as a sign of imminent hostile aggression, and within moments, a gun discharged. It is believed that the gun of a deaf man, Black Coyote, accidentally fired as soldiers tried to take it from him. Although the inadvertent single shot did not injure anyone, instantaneously the soldiers retaliated by spraying the unarmed Indians with bullets from small arms, as well as the Hotchkiss canons which overlooked the scene.

(Hotchkiss canons are capable of firing two pound explosive shells at a rate of fifty per minute.)

With only their bare hands to fight back, the Indians tried to defend themselves, but the incident deteriorated further into bloody chaos, and the 350 unarmed Indians were outmatched and outnumbered by the nearly 500 U.S. soldiers.

The majority of the massacre fatalities occurred during the initial ten to twenty minutes of the incident, but the firing lasted for several hours as the army chased after those who tried to escape into the nearby ravine. According to recollections by some of the Indian survivors, the soldiers cried out "Remember the Little Bighorn" as they sportingly hunted down those who fled -- evidence to them that the massacre was in revenge of Custers demise at Little Bighorn in 1876.

(Recorded by Santee Sioux, Sid Byrd, from oral histories of several survivors.)

Many of the injured died of exposure in the freezing weather, and several days after the incident the dead were strewn as far as approximately two to five miles away from the original site. By mid-afternoon on December 29, 1890 the indiscriminate slaughter ceased. Nearly three-hundred men (including Chief Big Foot), women, and children -- old and young -- were dead on the frosty banks of Wounded Knee Creek. Twenty-nine soldiers also died in the melee, but it is believed that most of the military causalities were a result of "friendly" crossfire that occurred during the fighting frenzy. Twenty-three soldiers from the Seventh Calvary were later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for the slaughter of defenseless Indians at Wounded Knee.

The wounded and dying were taken to a makeshift hospital in the Pine Ridge Episcopal Church. Ironically, above the pulpit hung a Christmas banner which read:

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.

A blizzard swept over the countryside the night of December 29, and when it cleared days later, the valley was strewn with frozen, contorted dead bodies. A burial party returned to the site on New Years Day, 1891. The bodies of the slain were pulled from beneath the heavy snow and thrown into a single burial pit. It was reported that four infants were found still alive, wrapped in their deceased mothers shawls.

American Horse, Oglala Sioux, and others described the carnage:

"There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce...A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing...The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through...and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys...came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there."

(Source: 500 Nations, 1994)

While only 150 bodies were interred in the mass grave, Lakotas estimate that twice as many Indians perished that brutal morning in 1890 -- on a reservation supposedly protected by two treaties.

Black Elk:

"I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream... the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Make that End-of-Year Donation

To donate to the Defense/Offense Committee, go to www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/donate.htm. Alternatively, checks and money orders made payable to the "LPDOC" can be mailed to LP-DOC, PO Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106.

Donations for heat on the reservations are critical; every year there are deaths from freezing to death in the night. This is preventable! Please donate online at http://www.pathwaystospirit.org/start.html or send a check or money order to:

Pathways To Spirit
4307 Goldeneye Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80526

REMEMBER to specify that you are supporting the utilities assistance program.

Pathways to Spirit is a federally recognized 501C3 non-profit organization, and as such your direct donations are tax deductible. All donations receive a receipt for tax purposes. For more information, contact info@pathwaystospirit.org.

We hope this information will be helpful to you.

2010 Honorary Leonard Peltier Scholarship

The Oglala Commemoration's

The Committee is pleased to announce our annual Peltier Scholarsip Award for an Oglala Lakota Tribal Member that plans to attend the Oglala Lakota College. It is geared toward meeting the financial needs of the non-traditional student. The applicants must have a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) this school year and currently reside in the local geographic area.

This Scholarship was created to honor Leonard Peltier's vision of empowering the Oglala People to have an active part in defining the future direction of the tribe. The intent: All have the potential to raise above their circumstances and to contribute to the preservation of Traditional Lakota Language and spirituality through education.

2010 Application (PDF)

Applications are available at the Student Financial Aid Office at the Oglala Lakota College, or download and print the application. Return the completed application to the college, addressed to the attention of Ms. Billi Hornbeck, (605) 455-6037.

Deadline: 04 February 2010

For more information, contact the Oglala Commemoration Committee at

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Greetings from GfbV

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2010 and, of course, freedom for Leonard Peltier in 2010.

Yvonne from Society for Threatened Peoples

Frohe Weihnachten und ein gute neues Jahr
selbstverständlich Freiheit für Leonard Peltier in 2010
wünscht Ihnen und Euch
Yvonne Bangert / Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker

Referat indigene Voelker / Indigenous Peoples Dpt.
Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker e.V. (GfbV)
Society for Threatened Peoples (STP)

P.O.Box 2024
D - 37010 Goettingen

Fon: +49 (0)551 499 06 -14
Fax: +49 (0)551 58 028
E-Mail: indigene@gfbv.de
Internet: www.gfbv.de

Happy Holidays from Leonard Peltier

Greetings and happy holidays. I hope this letter finds you all enjoying the spirit of the season with family and friends.

My August parole denial was appealed in short order. We are expecting a response to that appeal sometime very soon. It has occurred to me that the viciousness of this system knows no bounds, and so I believe strongly in the coming days we will hear of another loss, another denial. This one will be timed and intended specifically as a twisted Christmas present for me, such is the nature of those in charge. With no sense of balance, fairness, or decency, I await my own personal stocking stuffer.

We all know the so-called justice system of this country is more about revenge and retribution than finding true and just resolution. It doesn’t take into account the plight of the wrongfully convicted, nor does it allow flexibility as human endeavors always require. This system has always been about making money at the top, furthering careers in the middle, and forgetting those at the bottom.

Their reason for denying my parole is that I refuse to admit guilt and show remorse for the deaths of two FBI agents. I know the righteousness of my situation. I know what I did and didn’t do. I will never yield.

I also know what this country did and continues to do to me and many others. While they demand I make a false confession for the sake of my freedom, they show no remorse for the loss of much of my life, or the lives of Joe Stuntz and countless others they have murdered over the generations simply for being who they were. Those lives are meaningless when compared to their precious FBI, I guess. And now, some of the very ones responsible for the deaths and suffering of so many of my people, are peddling books and claiming to be a friend of the Indian. We’ve seen this before, and I’ll speak more about this soon.

I remain proud of what I have stood for and mindful of what real justice is. In this season of love and forgiveness, please say a prayer for all of those who never knew justice and others who have such difficulty in finding it still today.

My love and my prayers go out to all of you.

Happy Holidays.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Screening of "Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier" on Dec. 17

What: Free Screening of Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier' w/special guest Ben Carnes (formerly of the LP-DOC)
Where: 111 North Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, 90012 (directly across from the Japanese American National Museum)
when: December 17th at 6:30pm

On Thursday, December 17, 2009, at 6:30pm we will have a free feature screening of 'Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier' with special guest speaker Ben Carnes formerly of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee. We will also have a community potluck (please bring a dish) and raffle.

Bringing the Circle Together: A Native American Film Series is a FREE monthly film series located at the National Center for Preservation of Democracy (directly across from the host sponsor The Japanese American National Museum) at 111 North Central Ave, in downtown Los Angeles, 90012.

The film series was established to provide quality documentaries by and about Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and bring together a central gathering place where discussion and awareness of issues can be shared with the Native community and its supporters.

A little about the film:

The shocking, true story of Leonard Peltier, the American Indian leader locked away for life, convicted of the alleged murder of two FBI agents during a bloody shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. Around the world his trial and conviction have been denounced as a sham. The heart of the film, is a detailed painstaking account of Peltier's harrowing odyssey through the American justice system.

The film series is hosted by Lorin Morgan-Richards and is sponsored by the following organizations:

The Japanese American National Museum
American Indian Community Council
Hecho de Mano
Nahui Ohlin
SCIC-InterTribal Entertainment
Department of Cultural Affairs

LP-DOC Newsletter for 15 December 2009

December 15, 2009: Gift Drive, ZOOM IN Campaign, and more.
Read here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Update on Leonard Peltier: Len Foster at the 2009 AIM Fall Conference, 25 November 2009

American Indian Movement elder Len Foster (Dineh) gives an update on Leonard Peltier's health and his current situation.

Filmed by Mary Ellen Churchill on November 25th at the 2009 AIM Fall Conference in San Francisco.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: A Call to Action

December 14 - 25

Demand a Christmas award of clemency for Leonard Peltier. Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1112 each day during this period. The comment line accepts calls Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST.

Human Rights Day: A Good Day to Write a Letter to Leonard

Human Rights Day 2009

Join the Global Write-a-thon by writing a letter of support to Leonard Peltier.

Send Cards and Letters:

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking towards 2010: Urgent Plea for the New Year

Looking towards 2010: Urgent Plea for the New Year

Well, no more beating around the bush. No one likes asking for money, but the LPDOC needs a surge of financial support going into the new year. Among the projects we have on the table is a full-page ad we have prepared for an influential national news magazine signed by prominent activists, writers, and editors. It calls on President Obama to grant Leonard immediate and unconditional release and proposes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the Reign of Terror on Pine Ridge in the 1970s. But it will remain on the table unless we can raise $3000 in the next week or so.

There are now several ways to contribute through paypal on the website, from one-time donations to monthly or quarterly pledges. Please consider pledging a monthly contribution for the upcoming year to give us the financial stability to move forward and, hopefully, complete our task. We also have raffle tickets and gift certificates available for Christmas presents that send a message of justice and reconciliation.

Whatever your faith or beliefs, this is a season of homecoming, of giving, and of reflection upon the past year and planning for the new one. For Leonard Peltier, 2009 was a year of raised hopes and shattered dreams. On Jan. 13, Leonard was brutally assaulted in an incident that the Bureau of Prisons refused to acknowledge or release information on in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by an AP reporter. Despite obtaining thousands of letters from around the world in support of his parole, the U.S. Parole Commission on Aug. 20 denied Leonard his well-deserved release on the basis of false and unsubstantiated claims by the FBI and the Justice Department.

It is time to take a stand.

Help us give Leonard hope for a homecoming in the new year by contributing what you can to his committee. The President has made Afghanistan his war, and Leonard Peltier is now Barack Obama's political prisoner. Also, please call the White House (202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414) and demand a Christmas pardon for one of the longest-serving political prisoners in the world. If President Warren Harding could free political prisoners for the holiday season in his first year in office after World War I, we can expect no less of a president who promised us changes for peace and human rights but now seems to be delivering more of the same. If you contributed to the campaign of Barack Obama or any member of congress, tell them you will instead send the money to the LPDOC unless and until they get on board to help end the persecution of an indigenous freedom fighter whose only crime was to defend human rights and self-determination in Indian Country.

In the Spirit of Leonard Peltier,

Betty Ann Peltier-Solano
Executive Director
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Never forget the real history of America: Statement from Leonard Peltier, 40th National Day of Mourning

Statement from Leonard Peltier, 40th National Day of Mourning, Nov. 26, in Plymouth, Mass.

Greetings and Hoka Hey!

I would request everyone who can to stand up for a few moments. Stand up for our ancestors. Stand up for our children. Stand up for our country.

To the United American Indians of New England, your supporters, and people of conscience everywhere: What a great day this is! It’s always good to see our people come together as one mind, especially at this time. As we have seen for generations, this week and month American schools will be teaching students the myth of the pilgrims and Indians celebrating the first Thanksgiving. Children will be cutting out paper headbands and “woo-wooing” as they think Indians do—never thinking about the real Indians who suffered an immigrant onslaught, or the Indians still here. This process continues the Americans’ bad habit of ignoring or falsifying their own history. I know it is easier to teach a fairy tale than to teach that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the massacre of defenseless Indian people, but facts are facts and this country needs to get them straight!

American families will be gathering and eating too much turkey and watching football, oblivious to an ongoing struggle for American Indian sovereignty and self-determination. While it’s always a good idea for people to come together and celebrate, we Indians offer a caution: Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, or have it righteously inflicted upon them! So overeaters beware! You never know when your wars, your bigotry, your poisons—your whole legacy—will come back to haunt you! While you gorge yourself, we will celebrate today as a day of mourning and fasting for our ancestors and our land. We know the observation comes before the feast.

As an activist and political prisoner here in the “land of the free,” I respect and support the mission of UAINE. You, as well as the American Indian Movement and Indian people of various organizations, have pursued honorable goals even when you got beaten and oppressed for doing so. We as Indian people must never let this country or the world forget that we were here. In your area specifically, Wampanoags, Narragansetts and others flourished in harmony with the land and sea. We thrived. We welcomed outsiders and they survived only through our generosity. For our troubles we suffered unjust wars, had our lands stolen, received disease-infested blankets, and continue to experience treaty violations. You are at ground zero of our genocide. You are patient zero.

I know you will never forget or allow others to forget the real history of America. Let them sit on Plymouth Rock until they see the errors of their ways! Stay united! Stay committed to the struggle! Never give up the fight! We were here! We are still here! We will always be here! Shout it with me—HOKA HEY!

Mitakuye Oyasin!

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Monday, November 30, 2009

ZOOM IN Campaign for Leonard Peltier: Take It to the Streets!

Do you have a digital camera?* Maybe you have a cell phone with a camera. Well then:

  • Hit the streets! Go to an area with heavy pedestrian traffic—near shops, a post office, a popular park, etc. (For safety and companionship, you may want to work with a partner.)
  • Do you use public transportation to commute to and from work? Every work day you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people, talk about the Peltier case, and collect photos of new supporters.
  • Table at community events, too. Or create your own mini-event by setting up a table outside a grocery store or another public place (with permission, of course).
  • Don’t forget church and other civic functions, flea markets, bazaars, and pow wows.
  • Will you be attending a gathering related to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years? These are prime opportunities to get friends, colleagues, and family and/or community members involved.
  • Host a house party and invite friends, neighbors, and family members.

From now until January 31, collect as many photos as you can and get folks interested in and participating in the campaign to free Leonard Peltier. If we all do our part, tens of thousands of photos will be collected by January 31.

*You can also purchase a disposable (standard or digital) camera or use a Polaroid camera, although these are more expensive options.

The Campaign Packet provides you with all the tools you will need to fulfill your mission. Please pay particular attention to the Guidance and Tips document in your packet.

Mail your mailers, log sheets, and donations to the support branch coordinators: ZOOM IN, c/o 2241 NW Hoyt Street, #214, Portland, OR 97210. Please also provide your contact information so that we can verify receipt of your batches. NOTE: Please provide an e-mail address and/or telephone number.

All materials should be received NO LATER THAN JANUARY 31, 2010 (but please don’t wait until then to send us batches of photos).

For information, contact zoom@whoisleonardpeltier.info.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunrise ceremony at Alcatraz (Audio) - 26 Nov 2009

Sunrise ceremony and celebration of the
40th anniversary of the Alcatraz occupation
Sunrise Ceremony - November 26, 2009 at 6:00am

Click to listen (or download)

Return to Alcatraz: 40 Years of Resistance
November 26, 2009
By Brenda Norrell

ALCATRAZ -- With the sounds of the Miwok singers and the calling out of the names of the original occupiers of Alcatraz, American Indians ushered in a new era of resistance, remembering how the act of holding the rock became the bedrock of a new generation.

During the Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony, commemorating the 40 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz, Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement, told thousands gathered to prepare to hold President Obama accountable.

Bellecourt said that last year everyone was excited when President Obama took office. "I was happy too. I went to his inauguration. The whole world was excited."

"I told every one of you to be vigilant, to be watchful. We've heard promises before."

Bellecourt pointed out that President Obama has bailed out the car companies, bailed out Wall Street and bailed out the banks. The Indian people, however, have not been bailed out. Obama made campaign promises to the Indian people. So far, the missing billions in the trust funds have not been returned to the Indian people.

"We haven't seen a penny of what belongs to us. There may be a day when we have to hold his feet to the fire."

"We don't want a stimulus package. We don't want anyone to bail us out." Bellecourt said Indian people want what is justly theirs and guaranteed by treaties.

Referring to the Massacre of Wounded Knee, he said, "We'll never let this sacred hoop be broken again." Bellecourt said it is time to nourish the sacred tree and this hoop of life.

"We're still at war," he said, responding to questions of how to join the American Indian Movement. "I draft every one of you."

On Alcatraz, Doug Duncan said casinos have brought greed to Indian country and many elected tribal governments are now acting like whites. In northern California, the Pomo people are struggling to have their sacred land returned at Bloody Island, the site of the Massacre of Bloody Island in 1850.

Lenny Foster, Dine', spiritual leader for inmates in state and federal prisons, said he continues to visit Leonard Peltier in prison in Pennsylvania. Urging calls and letters to Obama to grant Peltier clemency, Foster said Peltier's health has not been good.

"He's been incarcerated for 33 years on fabricated evidence, "said Foster, adding that Peltier is one of the world's most famous political prisoners. Foster said Peltier's release would spark reconciliation between the United States and Indian people. Referring to the longstanding failure of the US to live up to its promises, he said, "We're not asking for any more than what is guaranteed to our people. Our people signed treaties."

During the weeklong events of AIM West, which began on Nov. 23, Bill Means spoke of the recent visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, to his Oglala homeland at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Describing some of the worst living conditions in America, Means, cofounder of the International Indian Treaty Council, said there is a need for 6,000 more homes. On the average, 14 Lakotas live in each home. Because of the lack of funding and repairs, HUD homes have mold, disrepair, broken windows and doors that don't shut.

Means said the people are asking for what was guaranteed by treaty and are not seeking the benevolence of the United States. "The United States is not living up to their legal commitments through the treaties." Housing, education and health care were assured when the US took the lands of the Indian people.

Bellecourt, Foster, Means, Madonna Thunder Hawk (Two Kettle Lakota) and Mark Maracle, Mohawk, were among the AIM-West speakers on issues ranging from the theft of Indian children by social services to the theft of Indian lands for energy development. The Ohlone people were honored with images shown on Coit Tower, towering above the city, from sunset to dawn, before the Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony. Still, the Shellmounds of the Ohlone people continue to be desecrated in the San Francisco region.

Mark Maracle, describing the genocide of Indian people in the United States and Canada, said Indian children were sent to residential schools and boarding schools. "They murdered their minds."

"They continue to do it today," he told those gathered at AIM West. Speaking of the need for unity, Maracle said the Haudenosaunee's Great Law is for everyone.

"We are a Nation," he said, pointing out that the United States is not 100 percent sovereign. Only Native nations are 100 percent sovereign.

"We have the greatest weapon, the truth."

Thousands gathered before first light at the Alcatraz Sunrise Gathering on Nov. 26 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. In the 1960s, American Indians occupied Alcatraz in a series of occupations. On November 20, 1969, Indians of All Tribes -- American Indian men, women and children -- made a stand here for justice. Alcatraz, vacated by the Bureau of Prisons in 1963, became the rallying place for the people to demand that their treaties be honored and their lands be returned. Lakota, Creek, Mono, Pomo, Paiute, Navajo, Mohawk, Chippewa and others took a stand that became a pivotal point for sovereignty, justice and freedom in Indian country.

For photos, audios and videos of these week's events:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Reason to Fast . . .

26th November 2009

15th Anniversary-FAST FOR FREEDOM!

Today marks the 15th year that myself and other activists around the country FAST FOR FREEDOM. Whether in the public arena or in the privacy of our own homes we fast for cleansing, for sacrifice and freedom.

FAST FOR FREEDOM began 1995. Myself and four Irish Activists spent four days on the steps of the temporary County Building in San Francisco, California fasting and sleeping. The fast began on THANKS-FOR-TAKING Day morning and concluded 72 hours later on Sunday morning. The reason? To bring attention to the freedom struggle of the H-Block 4; Four Irish Political Prisoners awaiting trial in the United States or extradition to Northern Ireland. Within three years the H-Block 4-Pol Brennan, Terry Kirby, Jimmy Smythe and Kevin Barry Artt were released from U.S. custody, unfortunately it did not end their struggle for safety, security and asylum.

In 1998 the FAST FOR FREEDOM was moved to San Diego. The Presidio in Old Town San Diego became the focal point of our sacrifice. Old Town San Diego is credited with being the first fort and settlement of the Spanish for the Catholic Church; ground zero of the occupation of our California indigenous ancestors. It was fitting to channel our energies to one of our Indigenous leaders.

Concentrating on the unjust justice system that permeates the United States government and enforcement agencies our work was now dedicated to the FREEDOM OF LEONARD PELTIER. The three years we spent in San Francisco were supported by the Free Peltier campaign including Mr. Dennis Banks; it was a no brainer that we officially join Peltier's Freedom Campaign. From a four-day fast to a one-day fast we concentrated on the historical ramifications of THANKS-FOR-TAKING Day acknowledging the displacement, rape and slaughter of millions of Indigenous people. Leonard Peltier sits in prison for a crime he didn't commit and our one-day a year sacrifice was and continues to be the very least we can do for the most famous political prisoner in the world.

Times have changed. Activism has changed. Mass demonstrations are replaced by mass emailings, Twitter and Facebook. Challenging oppression, occupation, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, environmental destruction and animal abuse can be challenging in economic depression; but where there is hope there is the possibility of progress.

Many of you will be sitting down to a meal where an animal has suffered to fill your body; where a worker was underpaid or overworked to offer fruits and vegetables on your table; where genetically engineering companies play "God" with nature; and where the celebration of a day has been historically distorted for the sake of corporate profit-making.

So today I fast for the Freedom of Leonard Peltier, for the Freedom of my Palestinian sisters and brothers and for the lives of my animal relations. Pick an issue, there are so many. It is easy to do and costs nothing. As most of my time is now thwarting the euthanasia process of dogs, cats, rabbits and farm animals, FREEDOM for anyone or anything should not be a competition between struggles. It is what it is. FREEDOM is to live in a world without violence of any kind.

Think before you act; act as if you will be alive in seven generations and live today in peace.

Peace & Resist in Health,

Janice Jordan
Peace & Freedom Party

Ms. Jordan was the Peace & Freedom Party Candidate for Vice-President in 2004; Leonard Peltier was the Presidential Candidate. Ms. Jordan currently works with Ferdinand's Familia, an all volunteer non-profit all species animal rescue and sanctuary serving Southern California.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leonard Peltier on receiving the first annual Red Nation Humanitarian Award

Recently, the Red Nation Film Festival chose Leonard Peltier to receive its first annual Humanitarian Award for his lifelong commitment to indigenous and human rights, as well as his leadership in efforts to alleviate poverty and domestic abuse among Native peoples. As a political prisoner for nearly 34 years, Peltier has helped focus world attention on government repression of Native resistance throughout the Americas, while the United States continues to make an example of him as a consequence of seeking freedom. Unable to accept the award in person, Leonard wrote the following acceptance speech for the award:

I am very humbled to have been honored with the first-ever Red Nation Humanitarian Award. I wish the Red Nation Film Festival success in all its endeavors, as I believe your event benefits Indian people everywhere. With your continued support, I hope that I will one day have the freedom to thank you in person.

Film is a powerful medium with the potential to help change one's consciousness, which can in turn change the world. Film can transport the viewers to places and situations they might never encounter, from the mountains and jungles of Peru and Bolivia, to the prison cells of Abu Ghraib and Lewisburg, the federal penitentiary where I am held in limbo as they transform the facility into a special site for problematic prisoners. Although I have been what they call a model prisoner, I am still here because I was jumped and beaten by other inmates when I was transferred to another prison. I am here in spite of the fact that I was an ideal candidate for parole by any objective standard free of politics. But because of my beliefs, and the FBI's fears of exposure of their crimes against the people of Pine Ridge and the American Indian Movement, the federal government is determined to see to it that I die in prison. So here I sit in a 3 foot by 6 foot cell.

The fact that you are here today at a Native film festival shows how far we have come from the days when Hollywood Indians were portrayed by white actors as one-dimensional savages standing in the way of civilization. The fact that we are today not only acting in films but also directing and producing shows how far we have in the last forty years since the American Indian Movement arose from the ashes of the Termination Era and demanded political sovereignty and cultural respect.

But how far have we really come? We are still subject on the reservations to the jurisdiction of the colonial police force known as the FBI, an agency which ignores serious crimes such as sexual assault while persecuting those who would stand up for true sovereignty and human rights. On other reservations, state police play the same role, though their jurisdiction is a legacy of the discredited termination era. Last week, President Obama held what was billed as a historic summit meeting with hundreds of tribal officials in attendance, but what was really accomplished? My defense committee sent faxes to more than 500 reservation chairman asking them to speak out on my behalf on this unique occasion. A few said they would, but when the opportunity presented itself they were too polite to speak out to a president who spoke of dissolving tribes in his inauguration speech.

It is the same in movies. While we now have realistic films dealing with poverty, alcoholism, and related social problems on the rez, how many deal with the root cause—colonial oppression which extinguishes hope for the future? I ask you filmmakers to use this powerful medium to help create visions for the future and to put our many problems in an accurate context. I plead with you, if you can't get me out of prison and I am destined to die here, to make my sacrifice worth it in terms of creating a more sustainable future for our children and future generations.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Raffle: Peltier Original Painting

Mystic Storyteller

Win this Peltier original, Mystic Storyteller. It measures 12" X 16" and comes with an original frame also made by Leonard, constructed with rolled newspaper. Coffee grounds were used for stain, oatmeal for glue, and floor wax for shine.

$5.00 per ticket.
$20 for 5 chances to win!

Enter to win by Valentine's Day - February 14, 2010.

Send your check or money order to:

Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
PO Box 7488
Fargo, ND 58105-5601

Or order tickets by credit card here.

*Be sure to note that you wish to enter the PAINTING RAFFLE*

Our View-Obama should 'AIM' at pardoning Peltier

Our View-Obama should 'AIM' at pardoning Peltier
By Staff, Daily 49er
California State University, Long Beach, CA
Published: Sunday, November 22, 2009

Most American Indian nations detest the distorted history of the first “American Thanksgiving” between indigenous peoples and the pilgrims.

Traditionally, we write an article debunking myths about the “first” Thanksgiving in order to provide alternate perspectives on one of America’s biggest ongoing lies; the tender story about turkey, cranberry sauce and the kumbaya moment we teach kindergarteners about.

There are many documented historical accounts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and broken treaties we could focus on, but because this is the first year President Barack Obama will pardon a turkey, we hope to beckon him to a higher sense of consciousness.

We’d like the former attorney and human rights activist to consider healing a wound in jurisprudence by granting clemency, or at least a new trial, for a fellow human being.

This Thanksgiving, we’re directing focus to one particular American injustice — the continuing political imprisonment of Leonard Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement. United States prisoner No. 89637-132, now 65, was convicted and sentenced to double life in federal prison in 1977 for the 1975 killings of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The two special agents, Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams, were attempting to find Pine Ridge member Jimmy Eagle for suspicion of stealing a pair of cowboy boots. They chased what they believed to be Eagle’s red pickup truck onto the Jumping Bull Ranch on the reservation.

The agents, armed only with .38 caliber pistols and shotguns, radioed they were under high-powered rifle fire. Both agents were killed.

Peltier was detained by Canadian police a year later and, when the U.S. Justice Department presented an affidavit from Myrtle Poor Bear, a woman with known psychological problems, he was extradited. Poor Bear later admitted FBI agents coerced her into signing the affidavit.

Some of the improprieties in the FBI investigation should be pointed out because they were the nexus of evidence used to convict Peltier.

The agents had radioed they were chasing a red pickup truck. For weeks, FBI agents hassled every red pickup truck they spotted on the reservation. At Peltier’s trial, the FBI claimed it was actually looking for a red and white van, one similar to what Peltier was often seen driving.

Three witnesses who testified that they saw Peltier near the crime scene recanted, also claiming the FBI had threatened them into taking the stand. During Peltier’s trial, an FBI ballistics expert swore a shell casing from near one of the dead agents matched that of a rifle supposedly tied to Peltier.

The expert swore a forensics test matched the casing to the rifle’s firing pin, but it was later discovered the gun had been too damaged to test ballistics. Years later, the expert’s records were examined and his report stated that the firing pin did not match the gun presumed to be Peltier’s, but that report was withheld during an appeals hearing.

Following another failed appeals hearing, the prosecutor said, “We do not know who shot the agents.”

More suspicious is the appearance and re-appearance of Coler’s handgun at two different locations on two consecutive days.

On Sept. 9, 1975, a recreational vehicle Peltier was identified as driving blew up during a shootout in Oregon. Coler’s handgun was found in a bag under the front seat.

On Sept. 10, 1975, a station wagon blew up near Wichita, Kan. Numerous weapons were discovered in the car — including Coler’s handgun. This is one magic pistol.

The only thing clear in how the case was handled is it was botched. The FBI and federal prosecutors were on a mission to round up the usual suspects and convict somebody — preferably an AIM member.

Peltier was denied parole last month and won’t have another parole hearing until 2024 when he’s 79. Hopefully, Obama will treat Peltier and the White House turkey equally and let them go.

Source URL: http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/our-view-obama-should-aim-at-pardoning-peltier-1.2094799#5

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NEW Art Prints

How about giving a Peltier print to that someone special on your Christmas list? We have new prints of several of Leonard's paintings: "Visions of Freedom," "White Mountain Lady," and "Woman Coming Out of the Water." They really are special and look fantastic framed. We're accepting orders now. Each print sells for $35.00 (USD). Check out our Merchandise Page at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/.

ZOOM IN Campaign Update

The outpouring of support for the new campaign is overwhelming and we can't thank everyone enough for their enthusiastic participation. Support branches that haven't checked in, please do so today. Send an e-mail to zoom@whoisleonardpeltier.info. We're planning some special activities to help you with the public education aspects of the campaign. We need to hear from you to help with scheduling.

The first response to the new campaign was received from Verlon Jose, Chairman, Tohono O'odham Legislative Council (AZ) and we've heard from many long-time supporters like Ted Glick and Pam Africa. We're very pleased to have them on board.

One of our support branches in New Mexico already has plans to canvass community events to educate folks and get as many people involved as possible.

Not to be outdone, supporters in Europe are hard at work, as well.

People are having fun with the idea, too--showing their hobbies, occupations, and cultures through the clothes they wear for their photos.

Leonard is thrilled with the response. Keep up the great work.

It's easy to join in. Learn all about the campaign on our Web site at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/.

Don't have a printer? Make your own sign. Just make certain it's large and clear enough to be visible in your photo and that it says, "Executive Review NOW!" Don't know how to create your personal flyer? Drop us a line and we'll help. For the answers to your questions and technical assistance, send an e-mail to zoom@whoisleonardpeltier.info.

Okay, everybody, strike a pose!

26 November: 40th National Day of Mourning

40th National Day of Mourning
Nov. 26, 2009
12:00 noon
Coles Hill, Plymouth, MA

United American Indians of New England
284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 522-6626
E-mail: info@uaine.org
Website: http://www.uaine.org


An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.

Thursday, November 26, 2009 (U.S. "thanksgiving" day) at Cole's Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 12 noon SHARP. Cole's Hill is the hill above Plymouth Rock in the Plymouth historic waterfront area.

There will be a march through the historic district of Plymouth. Plymouth has agreed, as part of the settlement of 10/19/98, that UAINE may march on Day of Mourning without the need for a permit as long as we give the town advance notice.

Although we very much welcome our non-Native supporters to stand with us, it is a day when only Native people speak about our history and the struggles that are taking place throughout the Americas. Speakers will be by invitation only. This year's NDOM is once again dedicated to our brother Leonard Peltier.

We hope there will be a pot-luck social held after the National Day of Mourning speak-out and march this year. Please check back to the website to confirm. We anticipate that the hall may not be large enough to seat everyone at once. We may have to do two seatings. Preference for the first seating will be given to Elders, young children and their mother/caretaker, pregnant women, Disabled people, and people who have traveled a long distance to join National Day of Mourning. Please respect our culture and our wish to ensure that these guests will be the first to be able to sit and eat. With this understanding in mind, please bring non-alcoholic beverages, desserts, fresh fruit & vegetables, and pre-cooked items (turkeys, hams, stuffing, vegetables, casseroles, rice & beans, etc.) that can be easily re-warmed at the social hall prior to the social. Thank you.

Limited carpool transportation may be available from Boston. Contact the Boston International Action Center at (617) 522-6626. There is transportation from New York City via the International Action Center, for more information call 212-633-6646.

Directions: National Day of Mourning is held by the statue of Massasoit at Cole's Hill. Cole's Hill is the hill rising above Plymouth Rock on the Plymouth waterfront. If you need directions, use Water Street and Leyden Street in Plymouth, MA as your destination at mapquest.com. That will bring you to within a few hundred feet of Plymouth Rock and Cole's Hill. You can probably find a place to park down on Water Street.

Monetary donations are gratefully accepted. Please make checks payable to the Metacom Education Project and mail to Metacom Education Project/UAINE at 284 Amory Street, Boston, MA 02130.

SF: AIM-West 3rd Annual Conference (23-27 Nov 2009)


AIM-WEST invites you to attend its Third Annual West Coast Conference, November 23-27, 2009 in San Francisco, California. This will be an opportunity for all Indian Nations particularly those on the west coast who share common concerns, issues and challenges to come together with a positive vision for the future, and share in council with decisions and solutions, and plan for our coming generations.

At this gathering we will address the honoring of Treaties, Sacred Sites, Human Rights and the Environment, Cultural and Spiritual Freedoms, Youth and Prisoner Rights, Immigration and Mineral Resource exploitation. A special session will also be held on how to organize an AIM chapter in your community, building alliances and coalitions, and the role of its membership, and supporters.

Monday, November 23, 10:00 am-5:30 pm
Press Conference 10:30-11:00 am

Opening Ceremonies with MC Bill Means and Madonna Thunder Hawk. San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St. @ Grove, Koret Auditorium. A panel of special guest speakers, and a film “El Salvador: I Want My People to Live”

Tuesday, November 24, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Bahai’i Center, 170 Valencia Street, SF (near 16th BART Station)
Pre-“Unthanksgiving” Potluck Dinner and special program, starts at 12 noon. Master of Ceremony is Mary Jean Robertson. With guest speakers, drummers and singers, and dance performances by California, El Salvador, Peru, and Traditional Azteca Teo-Kalli. Clyde Bellecourt will offer blessings and a talk on the state of the States. Musical entertainment. Everyone invited to the feast, where the Eagles invite the Condors!

Wednesday, November 25, 10:00 am-5:00 pm

Location: Bahai’i Center, 170 Valencia Street, SF
A full day of topics led by a panel of distinguished community organizers: Sacred Sites; Immigration and Border issues; Environment and COP-15 in Copenhagen; Treaties, and Mineral Resource and Mining Extraction; Prisoner Rights and strategy campaign for Leonard Peltier’ Executive Clemency; Federally Recognized, Unrecognized and Disenrollment; Building AIM chapters and defining role of supporters, coalitions, alliances, and capacity building; Youth and International Solidarity with Liberation Movements.

Thursday, November 26, 4:00 am-9:00 am

Location: Alcatraz Island 40 Year Anniversary of The Occupation 1969-1971
Annual Sunrise Gathering, Pier #33 Hornblower Alcatraz Tours, purchase tickets online, $14 kids under 5 free! The sunrise program will be broadcast from THE ROCK live on radio KPFA 94.1 starting at 6am to 9am with Miguel Molina, and Co-Anchored by Tony Gonzales of AIM-WEST with Mary Jean Robertson, DJ of KPOO radio.

Friday, November 27, “Native American Day” concert 6:00-10:00 pm

*Sacred Sites demonstration at Glen Cove, stay alert! Call Wounded Knee for more information: 707-557-2140

AIM-WEST will hold a benefit fundraiser at the Bahai’I Center, 170 Valencia Street in San Francisco!
Tickets $10-20 donation, no one turned away.
6:00-10:00 pm

Music by Bob Young Project, Local Artists, special guests and much more!! Please bring cans of food for Inter-Tribal Friendship House in Oakland.

The entire event will be broadcast and recorded by Govinda at http://www.earthcycles.net and will be streamed live!

For more information please contact visit http://www.facebook.com/l/af83a;www.aimovement.org.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Leonard Peltier Holiday Gift Drive

Leonard Peltier
Holiday Gift Drive

Leonard Peltier is organizing a holiday gift drive for the children of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. Leonard grew up on the Turtle Mountain Reservation and many of his family members still live there.

This annual gift drive is one way in which Leonard continues his humanitarian work for his people. Help Leonard reach out beyond the bars that imprison him.

Remember... The gift drive helps the children and families, but also Leonard himself. Help keep Leonard's spirit strong through the difficult holiday season.

Mail all gifts to:

Waha Peltier
PO Box 159
Pine Ridge, SD 57770

Turtle Mountain Tribal Agency
Gifts from Leonard
c/o Cindy Malaterre
PO Box 900
Belcourt, ND 58316

Send new (unwrapped) toys, warm clothing, books, school supplies, etc., for children of ALL ages (newborn to 18 years). To ensure delivery by Christmas, mail your gift no later than December 17.

Thank you for your generous support.

Occupation of Alcatraz Program. Come Hear The ENTIRE Story. Friday Nov 20th, 2009 at UC Berkeley

On Friday, November 20th 2009, Richie Richards the Native American Education Specialist for the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley proudly hosts the 40th Anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz Program. The event will honor and commemorate the original efforts and intentions of the student-based occupation that took place in 1969; which was to protest the social conditions Native Americans were being subjected to in both urban areas and on reservations. Alcatraz provided a national forum for their voices to be heard and we want to continue that conversation with this event.

This program will begin by honoring and giving thanks to those who participated in the occupation and their perspective by reviewing the 1969 occupation. Speakers will discuss the conditions for Native Americans during this time period in response to the governmental policies that continued to strategically enforce cultural assimilation and deny Natives of their basic human rights and rights as sovereign nations.

Our Keynote Speaker will be Dr. LaNada War Jack (formerly LaNada Means). LaNada was the student leader from the Third World Strike which took place at UC Berkeley whose efforts led to the foundation of the Ethnic Studies Program at UCB. She, along with Richards Oakes, organized the take-over of Alcatraz in November, 1969. We are very honored to have her presence at this event and look forward to a great presentation.

Our Honored Guest Speaker will be Dr. Lehman Brightman (President of the United Native Americans, Inc.), who will discuss the founding of UNA Inc., his role as First Director of Ethnic Studies here at UC Berkeley, and his participation in the Occupation. Dr. Brightman recently presented at the 40th anniversary of Ethnic Studies at SFSU and may speak about this presentation as well.

Another element to the event, will include Ilka Hartmann (German photographer from the occupation), who will present a slide show of her photographs and her experiences as a non-Native participant on Alcatraz. Ilka Hartmann has taken some of the more famous photos that we may have seen as well as other photos from past demonstrations of human rights and equality.

During the 40th Anniversary program, students from local universities will present contemporary research and statistics in regards to the current situation of Native America. As students, we will examine and present various subjects including those which were the motivating factors of the occupation. So far, students from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and DQ-University Board Members have agreed to come present.

This event is meant to bring together old friends and create new networks. This is an opportunity for Natives to unite once again in solidarity.

Please RSVP by sending contact information to Richie Richards at naes-pahma@berkeley.edu.


*Healthy lunch will be provided to occupation speakers and elders who attend. Free of charge at Hearst Museum patio. Lunch will be provided by Friendly Natives Catering: bluemaiz@yahoo.com.

*Time and Agenda are currently in development and is subject to change-due to growing interest.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zoom In: Focus on Executive Review

Zoom In: Focus on Executive Review

A new campaign sponsored by the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LP-DOC) with Friends of Peltier and the International Peltier Forum

The United States courts have acknowledged that Leonard Peltier was the victim of official misconduct and convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony. However, the courts have not granted Leonard a new trial.

Attorney General Eric Holder can conduct an Executive Review of the Peltier case and provide a remedy. In fact, he has said that in the face of misconduct by Department of Justice officials, it's his job to do the right thing. That's why we've renewed the call for an Executive Review of the Peltier case.

Join us in our new campaign to demand equal justice for Leonard Peltier.

The Campaign

People often ask... "Who are those Peltier supporters, anyway?" We're all just ordinary folks from all around the world. We're a diverse group, representative of all races/ethnicities, religions, social classes, political beliefs, etc. Yet, we have at least one thing in common. We know a grave injustice has been done to Leonard Peltier.

The campaign concept is simple: (1) Send a message to AG Holder--We want justice... equal justice... and we want it NOW and (2) Put a face to the message.

The campaign has two components:

Action #1: Personal Response--Where you'll provide a photographic image of yourself holding a campaign sign, as well as your name, address and e-mail address.

Action #2: Community Response--Where you'll go out into your community and get others to participate in the campaign.

A box filled to the brim with campaign flyers, including all our faces, will be delivered to AG Holder's office on or around February 6, 2010 - the 34th anniversary of Leonard Peltier's arrest.

For details and instructions, see http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/.

We also ask that you contribute $1 to help us with expenses associated with the campaign. That's right--ONE U.S. dollar! You can, of course, donate more if you wish. Checks and money orders should be made out to "LPDOC". If you prefer, you may donate online at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/.

Contrary to what some say, the Committee has limited resources and, like any other grassroots organization, struggles financially. Your dollars are needed to make this and other campaigns successful and so that more events--like those held in Boulder, Lewisburg, and Washington, DC, this year--can be planned and successfully implemented in the months ahead. Please give what you can.


All photos should be received NO LATER THAN JANUARY 31, 2010 (but please don't wait until then to send us your photo).

Again, for instructions, see www.whoisleonardpeltier.info. Download the campaign kit and review all of the materials provided. The campaign e-mail address is zoom@whoisleonardpeltier.info. Don't hesitate to ask questions or request assistance.

Note to our local support group coordinators: Please let us know you're on board with this new campaign by sending an e-mail to zoom@whoisleonardpeltier.info. We'll work closely with you to help you succeed. To assist us with the planning of branch-specific special communications (which may be state, regional or international in scope) please provide your name and location in the body of your e-mail.

Thanks to all of you for the work you do. With your help, Leonard WILL see freedom soon.

Kari Ann Cowan, Assistant Coordinator
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Greenville Rancheria Resolution on Behalf of Leonard Peltier

12 Nov 2009

To see the Resolution passed in Greenville Rancheria for Leonard's freedom, click here. (PDF Format)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leonard Peltier the recipient of the First Red Nations Humanitarian Award

The Red Nation Film Festival has chosen Leonard Peltier to receive its first annual Red Nations Humanitarian Award for his lifelong commitment to indigenous and human rights, as well as his leadership in efforts to alleviate poverty and domestic abuse among Native peoples. As a political prisoner for nearly 34 years, Peltier has helped focus world attention on government repression of Native resistance throughout the Americas, while the United States continues to make an example out of him of the consequences of seeking freedom. The award was presented on November 12.

The 6th Annual Red Nation Film Festival - A Night of Tribute Awards

2009 Honorees:

• "Red Nation Vision Award” – In Loving Memory to Michael Jackson “Black or White”
• “Edward Albert Jr Indigenous Film Award” – Edward James Olmos, Actor
• “Brando Award” – Jo Berlinger, director of Crude
• “Lifetime Achievement Award” – Graham Greene, Actor
• “Best Network Award” – C.B.S. Network
• “Television Heritage Media Award” – San Manuel Tribe
• “Red Nation Theatre Playwright Award” – Richard Montoya, Culture Clash
• “Red Nation Humanartian Award” – Leonard Peltier
• “Red Nation Activists Award” – Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch

PAST RNFF Honorees have included:

President Obama, Governor Richardson, Marlon Brando, George Burdeau, TNT Network, Pechanga Tribe, President Joe Garcia of NCAI, Alvin Warren-Secretary of Dept of Indian Affairs, Lisa Strout-Director of New Mexico Film Office.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

10 Nov 2009: LPDOC Newsletter


Click Here For Details...

N. Hennepin Comm. College Peltier Events

North Hennepin Community College, SC
128 Brooklyn Park, MN

Read below and attached flyer for details

Please join us this week for the three final events connected with our Pow Wow and exploration of Native American culture and history this semester- a presentation on Leonard Peltier, the wrongfully imprisoned Native American activist, who has now spent 33 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and two screenings of Incident at Oglala, the 1992 Robert Redford and Michael Apted documentary that explores the American Indian Movement in the 1970s and Peltier's controversial case.

Monday 9 November - 1.30 - 2.50 p.m. in SC128 - Incident at Oglala

Tuesday 10 November - 9.30 -10.50 a.m. in CBT 101 - Incident at Oglala Repeat showing

Thursday 12 November 12 - 1 p.m. ES Atrium A Presentation on Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier’s cousin, the cultural activist Juanita Espinoza, who is a tribal member of the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota, and Executive Director of the Native Arts Circle and Two Rivers Gallery in Minneapolis, will talk about Leonard’s life, his work as an artist, and what he represents to Native American people, as well as the millions of people around the world who have petitioned for his release.

NHCC students will read excerpts from Peltier’s book Prison Writings and student artwork inspired by his case will also be on display in the Atrium.

Berkeley: Peltier Art Exhibit

Hecho en Califas Visual Art Exhibits Presents

Opening reception: Friday, November 13, 2009
6:30 - 8pm
In the Cafe Lobby
3105 Shattuck Ave.

For more info, call 510-849-2568

Pangea - Cultivate Our Cultures


Saturday, November 14, 200910:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Heritage Kjemkomst Interpretive Center

202 1st Avenue North

Moorhead, MN 56560

Come and celebrate our community's traditions and cultures with this local muti-ethnic showcase of music, dance, culinary arts, and children's activities. Handmade items and ethnic foods are available for sale.LPDOC will be displaying many of Leonard's paintings with lithographs, digital prints and merchandise for sale.

Prosecutors' Immunity


Prosecutorial immunity is nothing less than a dagger through the heart of justice. In recent years, we have seen more than enough evidence that prosecutors can and will knowingly send innocent people to jail, and sometimes even to death row. When through the diligence of a number of crusading defense attorneys such malfeasance became clear, laws were passed to hold such prosecutors accountable. In other words, the wrongfully convicted were given their own legal path towards justice. Now comes an effort to once again give prosecutors free reign to knowingly prosecute those they know to be innocent. Just the willingness to argue the position that there is "no freestanding constitutional right not to be framed" is evidence enough that some actually believe wrongful prosecutions are acceptable. Prosecutors cannot - MUST NOT - be given immunity for wrongful prosecutions, lest we see injustice of staggering proportions.

First and foremost in this writer's mind, is the prosecutor's temptation to convict anyone and everyone for merit's sake. Let's face it, being a prosecutor is a gateway drug....ahem....position. If one wants to be a judge, or a politician, the doorway to said profession is primarily as a prosecutor. And when they run for a judgeship, mayor, or some other office, former prosecutors love to quote their conviction rates. The higher the conviction rates, the better it appears one did his or her job, and the more dedicated to "justice" he or she appears to be. And as was seen in Chicago and other locales over the last several years, the pressure to successfully convict is, like a potent drug, very hard to resist. There have been so many instances in fact, that organizations such as the Innocence Project have come into being. Dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, IP has found no shortage of cases to pursue. To date, the Innocence Project claims 245 wrongfully convicted prisoners freed. That’s 245 lives, not to mention children, mothers, fathers, and others, whose lives were likewise needlessly destroyed. And this is just one such organization.

And what of racial bias? Far too often there has been, particularly in the southern states, an eagerness to convict members of minority communities for crimes they did not commit. In some communities, the mere implication that a person of color has somehow wronged a white man or woman is enough to conjure up a fear laden conviction. We see evidence of this after the fact, as DNA evidence exonerates one easy target after another, yet only after victims of wrongful prosecutions lose years and sometimes decades of their lives behind bars. Minorities continue to suffer disproportionately high conviction rates and prison population rates. Minorities typically receive longer sentences for similar offences and are far more likely to be given the death penalty in qualifying cases. Either minorities are more prone to break the law, or "the system" as we like to call it, is flawed. Allowing prosecutorial immunity only compounds the shortcomings in an already troubled process.

Lastly, the difficulty in receiving a new trial is equally troubling and one of the most profound reasons behind holding prosecutors liable for wrongful convictions. In some states, and in some cases, getting a new trial borders on the impossible. Leonard Peltier is a prime example of this, where the federal court system declared in light of new evidence that he "might have" been found innocent had this new evidence been available at the time of his conviction. "Might have" isn't good enough, as the federal standard for a new trial is that one "would have" been found innocent with said information at the time of trial. So the difference between "might have" and "would have" is enough to keep Mr. Peltier in jail for 34 years running. Likewise, a review of the Texas justice system within the last decade found it "barely constitutional". Part of this finding was due to the difficulty in obtaining a new trial once convicted. Many states have rules that limit when new evidence can be admitted. Quite literally a piece of evidence exonerating a convicted person may not be admitted and therefore may be irrelevant if it becomes known past a predetermined number of days or years after conviction. In other words, it can literally be too late to prove you are innocent. Justice, it seems has a shelf life and can expire.

No American should live with the rational fear of a wrongful conviction. In the event it does happen, a victim of such an experience must have a round trip ticket back to justice. The only way we can properly assuage the wrongfully convicted, and protect the not-yet wrongfully convicted, is to be able to hold the offending prosecutors accountable. Otherwise, losing our freedom could be like shooting fish in a barrel, with all of us just waiting to get plugged.

TO READ NPR'S 11.4.09 ARTICLE"High Court Weighs Prosecutors Immunity"

Click here to read

New Peter Matthiessen Op-Ed

Volume 56, Number 18 · November 19, 2009
The Tragedy of Leonard Peltier vs. the US
By Peter Matthiessen

On July 27, 2009, I drove west from New York to the old riverside town of Lewisburg in central Pennsylvania, the site of the federal penitentiary where early the next morning I would make an appeal to the parole board on behalf of the American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Leonard Peltier in his first parole hearing in fifteen years. On this soft summer evening, a quiet gathering of Peltier supporters from all over the country had convened in a small park near the Susquehanna River. Despite his long history of defeats in court, these Indians and whites sharing a makeshift picnic at wood tables under the trees were optimistic about a favorable outcome. Surely a new era of justice for minorities and poor people had begun with the Obama administration, and anyway, wasn't Leonard's freedom all but assured by the Parole Act of 2005, which mandated release for inmates who had spent thirty or more years in prison?

Leonard Peltier, an Ojibwa-Lakota from Turtle Mountain, North Dakota, was one of the three young Indians who were among the participants in a shoot-out with the FBI at Oglala on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation on a hot dusty day in June 1975. They were later charged with the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams. Ostensibly searching for a suspect in a recent robbery case, the agents had been warned by tribal police not to enter the property where the AIM Indians had their camp. Their intrusion apparently provoked a warning that led to an exchange of gunfire. Understandably outraged by the deaths of Coler and Williams and in particular by the fact that an unknown "shooter" had finished off both wounded men at point-blank range, their fellow agents would also suffer intense frustration and embarrassment when a dozen or more of the Indians involved, using a brushy culvert under a side road, escaped a tight cordon of hundreds of agents, Indian and state police, national guardsmen, and vigilantes who had the area surrounded.

More galling still, Bob Robideau and Dino Butler, two of the three AIM suspects in the killings arrested during the FBI's huge "ResMurs" (Reservation Murders) investigation, were acquitted a year later in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on a plea of self-defense, as the third and last suspect, Leonard Peltier, would certainly have been as well, had he not fled to Canada. He was arrested there in February 1976, extradited back to the US, and tried separately. Though originally indicted with the others on identical evidence, he was barred by a hostile new judge, Paul Benson, from presenting the same argument based on self-defense that had led to Robideau and Butler's acquittal. Furiously prosecuted as the lone killer and convicted for both deaths on disputed evidence, Peltier was sentenced in February 1977 in Fargo, North Dakota, to two consecutive life terms in federal prison.

The following year, when Peltier's conviction was appealed, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Donald Ross denounced the coercion of witnesses and manipulation of evidence in his case as "a clear abuse of the investigative process by the FBI"; the US Attorney's Office, too, would be sharply criticized for withholding exculpatory evidence. In October 1984, in an evidentiary hearing in Bismarck, North Dakota, ordered by the appellate court to review the possibility of a new trial, the prosecutor, US Attorney Lynn Crooks, had to concede that the FBI's own laboratory had failed to verify the claimed ballistics link between Peltier and the murder weapon that was used to nail down his conviction—a shell casing of disputed provenance that Crooks had called "perhaps the most important piece of evidence in this case." Even so, Judge Benson refused to reconsider the conviction.

The following year when the decision was appealed again, Crooks finally admitted that the identity of "the shooter" had never been proven and was in fact unknown to the prosecution even when it was twisting the evidence to ensure Peltier's conviction and make certain that its third and last suspect—by its own description, "the only one we got"—was imprisoned for life. Yet the appellate court, while noting that so much tainted evidence had deprived the defendant of his constitutional right to due process of law, found "no compelling legal justification" for ordering a new trial.

In a TV interview after his retirement in 1989, Judge Gerald Heaney, who had signed that astonishing decision, called it "the most difficult I had to make in twenty-two years on the bench." The following year, in the National Law Journal, this troubled jurist held the FBI "equally responsible" for the deaths of its two agents; in a letter to Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, he urged commutation of Peltier's sentence. Questioned on the same 1989 TV show about the perjured affidavits extracted by FBI agents from a frightened alcoholic, US Attorney Crooks declared: "I don't really know and I don't really care if they were false. I don't agree that we did anything wrong, but I can tell you, it don't bother my conscience one whit if we did." Properly outraged by this arrogant refusal to repudiate US government use of fabricated evidence, Senator Inouye, as a former US attorney, called Crooks "a disgrace to the profession."

I first interviewed Leonard Peltier in Marion Penitentiary in 1981, and that same year, with his original codefendant Bob Robideau, I inspected the Jumping Bull Ranch at Oglala where the shoot-out had taken place. Later, after reading many if not most of the pertinent documents, including the FBI field reports and the transcripts of both trials, I returned to Oglala to interview local people and study the scene again. Like the FBI, I would hear all sorts of rumors about the many young Indians involved without learning which one had fired the fatal shots; however there seemed to me no doubt whatever that Leonard Peltier had been railroaded into prison.

Unfortunately my long book making that case[*] was quickly suppressed by libel suits brought by South Dakota's attorney general, William Janklow, and an FBI agent named David Price. Eight years would pass before both suits were summarily dismissed and the book was back in circulation. Meanwhile Peltier's long fight for a fair trial had won his endorsement as a political prisoner by Amnesty International, and his thousands of supporters throughout the world included the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and the great majority of his own people in the more than 250 Indian nations that had formally demanded his release.

In Peltier's first parole hearing in 1996, the examiner filed an internal recommendation in Peltier's favor. (The US Parole Commission, like the US Attorney's Office and the FBI, is under the aegis of the Justice Department: its examiner informs himself about the case, questions both sides, and appraises the new evidence, if any.) Yet in actions so belated and irregular as to raise suspicion of undue influence, the commission replaced that first examiner with one more to its liking and denied parole.

By then, the few bold lawmakers who had called for investigations had retreated or retired, and Peltier's best hope was executive clemency. To that end, I wangled my way into the Oval Office and pressed my book about the case into President Clinton's hands. In January 2001, during Clinton's last week in office, as FBI lobbyists—the Association of Retired FBI Agents and No Parole for Peltier—marched in front of the White House, I joined attorney Bruce Ellison and filmmaker Jon Kilik in a long meeting with the presidential and White House counsels in which we argued that granting clemency to an American Indian who could offer nothing in return was a bold symbolic step that could only enhance the President's last-minute efforts to prop up his legacy.

The lawyers seemed impressed and hopes were high, but when the clemency list appeared on the Saturday morning of Inauguration Day, Peltier's name was missing. The phone call I dreaded was put through from Leavenworth Prison in early afternoon. "They didn't give it to me," mumbled a stunned voice I scarcely recognized—the first time in twenty years of visits, letters, and telephone conversations that Leonard Peltier's strong spirit sounded broken. With all court appeals exhausted and no hope of mercy from the incoming Republican administration, this aging prisoner was condemned to wait for his next parole hearing in 2009.

In the park in Lewisburg, people agreed that had the shoot-out victims not been "FBIs," Leonard might never have been convicted; at the very least, he would have been paroled many years before. Someone in the park recalled the fear and disruption on the reservations caused by the FBI's huge ResMurs investigation (which was widely perceived as the latest chapter in the long history of oppression and revenge against "the redskins who killed Custer" that had led up to the shoot-out). The killing that day in June 1975 of a young member of the AIM by a marksman's bullet in the forehead had gone all but unmentioned, someone said, let alone investigated by "the Injustice Department," doubtless because "Injuns don't count." How about Bob Robideau's statement to an FBI man that he had been "the shooter"? Would the Parole Commission take that into account? And was it suspicious that Robideau had been found dead last February in Barcelona? (The official autopsy concluded that he had struck his head in a fall while suffering a seizure.)

With Peltier's attorney Eric Seitz and the two other parole advocates —Dr. Thom White Wolf Fassett, a Seneca elder and United Methodist adviser to Congress on Indian affairs, and an Ojibwa woman named Cindy Maleterre representing Peltier's Turtle Mountain Reservation—I went early the next morning to the prison, passing supporters waving "Free Peltier" signs at the entrance road.

In the hearing room the first to speak were the two sons of the late agent Jack Coler. After testifying to their family's great loss, they suggested that if this man facing them today were to take responsibility and express remorse for those brutal murders he so stubbornly denies having committed, the Coler family might not protest his parole. But the three FBI spokesmen and the assistant US attorney who spoke next were content to repeat the same vilifications and distortions of the facts that won a conviction back in 1977. Locked long ago into their ResMurs myth, they insisted that Peltier was still a danger to the public and cited those provisions in the Parole Act specifying that parole may be denied if the subject's release might "depreciate the seriousness of the offense" or "promote disrespect for the law."

In response to the charge that Peltier has evaded his responsibility for those murders, Eric Seitz countered that the FBI and the US Attorney's Office have evaded responsibility for their own illegal tactics in his prosecution. Otherwise Seitz made no attempt to retry a long historic case in a few minutes, emphasizing instead the prisoner's exemplary behavior record, serious health problems, and other strong qualifications for parole under the commission's geriatric and medical criteria. He reminded Examiner Scott Kubic that in a few weeks, on September 12, when Peltier would turn sixty-five, he would also become eligible for home detention under the new Second Chance program for elderly inmates designed to ease overcrowding in the US prisons.

Thom White Wolf testified that Peltier's incarceration for nearly thirty-three years has been viewed both nationally and internationally as a gross injustice and a major embarrassment to our country, with a negative effect on the world's view of how the US government treats its native population. When my turn came, I spoke to the points made in this article, adding how much this inmate had matured over the three decades of our acquaintance, not only as an articulate spokesman for his people but as an artist, self-taught in the prisons, whose work is admired through- out the US. And Cindy Maleterre assured the examiner that the prisoner's Ojibwa-Dakota people at Turtle Mountain—including grandchildren he has never seen—had already taken care of the parole requirements of social support, adequate housing, and steady employment (as an arts-and-crafts teacher and alcoholism counselor on the reservation), and were planning to welcome him home with a great feast.

That afternoon we left the prison with the feeling that Examiner Kubic had listened carefully and would recommend parole—a guarded optimism we conveyed to the flag-waving supporters awaiting our report on the public road. But no one forgot how the examiner's finding in Peltier's favor fifteen years before had been aborted; in the next weeks, as so often in the past, the prisoner would have to suffer the suspense of desperate hope.

On Friday, August 20, federal inmate #89637-132 received terse notice that his petition for parole had been denied: not until his "15-year Reconsideration Hearing in July 2024," he was informed, would he become eligible to be turned down again. In the unlikely event that he lives long enough to attend that hearing, Inmate Peltier will be eighty years old.

In his angry response, Attorney Seitz accused the commission of "adopting the position of the FBI that anyone who may be implicated in the killings of its agents should never be paroled and should be left to die in prison." I entirely agree with Seitz and share his anger. For the prisoner and his supporters, the Lewisburg hearing had been hollow, with a predetermined outcome: The United States v. Leonard Peltier had always been a matter less of justice than of retribution.

Americans—those in public office especially—should inform themselves about this painful case and demand an unbiased investigation that might start with one simple question: If, in the thirty-three years since his trial, reputable evidence has ever emerged that Leonard Peltier was the lone killer and deserves to be in prison for life, why hasn't the Justice Department produced it?

Without public protest, Peltier will not be granted a fair hearing since his prosecutors know that in the absence of honest evidence, "the only one we got" would be set free. Instead, this man's life leaks away behind grim concrete walls for the unworthy purpose of saving face for the FBI and a US Attorney's Office that together botched the famous ResMurs case and mean to see somebody pay. And who better for this fate than a "radical" AIM Indian who dared stand up to "legally constituted authority" in defense of his humiliated people, as he was doing with such tragic consequences on that long-ago June day?

In reviewing this case with an open mind, as surely he must in fulfilling his oath of office, Attorney General Eric Holder (the assistant attorney general in 2001) might reflect on his own role in the clemency bestowed by Clinton on Marc Rich, the notorious "fugitive felon." He might consider, too, Rich's consequent evasion of even a single day in prison in the harsh light of the eleven thousand days already served by a penniless American Indian who remains innocent before the law, having never been proven guilty.

[*]In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Viking, 1983).