Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rolling Stone: Undercover at the Tar Sands

Editor's Note: In recent months, many climate activists have focused their efforts on Canada's tar sands and the companies set on extracting fossil fuels from them. With the debate raging louder than ever, Rolling Stone is in contact with one of the workers helping to build a pipeline to bring oil from the tar sands to the U.S. Read on for that anonymous correspondent's first dispatch from one of the world's most controversial jobs.

There's something in the air in Fort McMurray, Alberta – and it's not just fumes from the massive oil sands processing plants north of town. Spend enough time here, and you'll pick up the pungent scents of machismo and money.

This is the heart of Canada's controversial tar sands operation. If all goes as planned, this region will soon be sending its bitumen – the sticky, black petroleum byproduct colloquially known as "tar" – down the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Obama has yet to give the contentious project the green light, but work in the oil sands shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

The region has 80,000 permanent residents, and hosts about 40,000 temporary workers at any given time – welders, pipefitters, heavy equipment operators, technicians, engineers and other hired hands who pass through Fort McMurray as the work ebbs and flows. I joined them this winter when, after hearing stories about Fort Mac for years, I signed on to help build a massive pipeline (not the Keystone XL). I was eager to see the tar sands for myself, experience life in Fort Mac firsthand – and, let's be honest, I wanted to make some oil money, too.  I'm writing this story anonymously to protect my friends, my colleagues and myself.

Read more:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Leonard Peltier Inspires Native American Long Walkers Now in St Louis

ST LOUIS -- Native Americans walking across America on the five-month Longest Walk 4 Return to Alcatraz arrived in St Louis late today and received a surprise message from longtime imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier.

Peltier told the walkers, "In our stories among my people, we say that at times like this, an eagle or a hawk will visit, to see what you are doing. We as Native people know that not only are they visiting to see what you are doing, but they have been sent to collect the thoughts and prayers of the people, to carry them back to the Creator."

The long walkers include two Native American young adults walking across America for the third time. Lisa Peake, Anishinabe/Pomo, and Carl 'Bad Bear' Sampson, Western Shoshone, walked across America on the Longest Walks 2 and 3.

Michael Lane, who walked across America in the original walk in 1978, is among the group of walkers who left Washington DC on July 15. Lane is walking with his wife Sharon Heta, Maori from New Zealand. The couple and their daughters walked across America on Long Walk 2 in 2008.

The long walkers will be at a meet and greet in St Louis on Friday, Aug. 30, at 4 pm at Black Bear Bakery, 2639 Cherokee Street.

Lisa Zahner Reinhold, of the Oglala Commemoration, shared Peltier's message with the walkers in their St Louis area campground tonight.


Elite Native American Firefighters Join Crews At Yosemite

One of the firefighting teams trying to contain the Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park is the Geronimo Hotshots team from San Carlos, Ariz., one of seven elite Native American firefighting crews in the U.S.

On the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, firefighting jobs are one of only a few ways for many young men to earn a living. For team member Jose Alvarez Santi Jr., 25, the work is rewarding — but being away from home fighting fires can be tough.

"I don't really see it as a job. Being out away from my family — that's the part that I'm down about, is just being away," Santi said not long before the team got the call to fight the Rim Fire.


On Pine Ridge Reservation, more Sioux take a stand against alcoholism

PINE RIDGE, S.D. | The reservation home to the Oglala Sioux sits on a beautiful and unforgiving landscape. The tribe has long struggled with an epidemic of alcoholism, even though alcohol sales and possession are illegal.

Oglala Sioux President Bryan Brewer blames alcohol sales just across the border outside the Pine Ridge Reservation. The liquor stores in nearby Whiteclay, Neb., a town with a population of 10 people, sell more than 4 million cans of beer a year.

The Oglala Sioux voted earlier this month to allow liquor sales on the reservation. If it passes a court challenge, the new law will allow the tribe to make money from alcohol sales to use for detox and treatment centers. Opponents of the referendum fear selling alcohol on the reservation will worsen the alcohol problem here.

Documentary photographer Wesaam Al-Badry first lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation seven years ago after growing up in refugee camps in southern Iraq. For more than three years, he’s captured scenes of life on the reservation including Camp Zero Tolerance – an effort to stop alcohol abuse.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

King Address That Stirred World Led to FBI Surveillance

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” inspired the world. It also galvanized the Federal Bureau of Investigation into undertaking one of its biggest surveillance operations in history.

Initially approved in October 1963 by then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the FBI’s wiretap and hidden-microphone campaign against King lasted until his assassination in April 1968. It was initially justified to probe King’s suspected, unproven links to the Communist Party, morphing into a crusade to “neutralize” and discredit the civil rights leader.

The speech’s impact on the FBI was first outlined in a 1976 report of the U.S. Senate “Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities,” known by its popular nickname, the “Church Committee,” after Idaho Democrat Frank Church.

At a time when the nation is absorbing revelations of telephone and e-mail surveillance by the National Security Agency, the FBI’s spying on King -- which had no court authorization or oversight -- stands as an example of domestic security gone to excess.

“The FBI’s program to destroy Dr. King as the leader of the civil rights movement entailed efforts to discredit him with churches, universities and the press,” said the report. It collected information about King’s plans and activities “through an extensive surveillance program, employing nearly every intelligence gathering technique at the Bureau’s disposal,” said the report.


50th Anniversary: I Have a Dream

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights


26 August 2013
Contact:  Dorothy Ninham, Wind Chases the Sun, N5679 Skylark Drive, DePere, WI  54115; Phone: 920/869-2641; E-mail:

Press Conference with Regard to Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights

WHEN:  September 4, 2013, at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:  National AIM Interpretative Center, 1113 East Franklin Avenue, Suite 3210A Minneapolis, MN  55404

SPEAKERS:  Dennis Banks, Bill Means, and Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council; and Dorothy Ninham, former Oneida Nation Judge and Director of event sponsor Wind Chases The Sun, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to Indigenous issues

"We have an oral tradition.  In this way, the stories about our 500 years of oppression have been passed down through the generations.  Now, we have the means to record that history and share it with the world.  The Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights will tell our stories with a focus on the last 40 years, " said Dorothy Ninham, founder and director of Wind Chases the Sun. 

Details regarding the Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights--an event scheduled for 2-4 October on the Oneida Nation Reservation in Oneida, Wisconsin--will be presented during a press conference to be held on September 4, 2013, in Minneapolis.

The purpose of the historic, public tribunal is to digitally document first-hand witness accounts of 40 years of malfeasance in Indian Country, and the continuing struggles of Indigenous Peoples.  Issues will include but are not limited to fishing rights, the sterilization of Indigenous women, extreme poverty, theft of tribes' natural resources, environmental issues and their impact on Indian reservations, the horrific rate of suicides among Native children, and the wrongful conviction of Leonard Peltier (specifically the events that led up to the June 26, 1975, incident at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the effects on survivors of this period). 

All Indigenous Peoples are invited to attend.  Tribes are encouraged to send a delegation of tribal elders to participate.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in Incarceration is a Global Concern

The overrepresentation of Indigenous people in incarceration is at epidemic proportions in many regions of the world. In Australia, Aboriginal people make up only 2.3 percent of the total population, yet make up over 28 percent of Australia’s prison population. Aboriginal people across Australia are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginals. In Canada, the Indigenous incarceration rate is 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous adults, with Indigenous people making up 4percent of the Canadian population yet making up 23.2 percent of federal inmate population. In the United States, states with high Native American populations also have high incarceration rates. In Montana, Native Americans constitute 6 percent of the population, but 20 percent of the prison population, with Native American women making up 32 percent of the incarcerated women in the state, an incarceration rate 4 times higher than non-Natives. Questions to consider: Why are the rates of incarceration disproportionally high for Indigenous peoples? What can be done to change these grim statistics? - See more at:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Anaya Bringing U.N. Human Rights Investigation to Canada

James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, will conduct an official visit to Canada in the fall to gather information about the human rights conditions of the country’s Indigenous Peoples.

Anaya’s visit will take place October 12 to 30 during which time he will travel the country, holding meetings and consultations with government officials, indigenous nations and their representatives, according to an announcement on his website.


US judge who handled activists charged in 1973 siege if Wounded Knee to retire

LINCOLN, Neb. | A federal judge in Nebraska has announced he plans to retire after a 44-year career that included handling the American Indian activists charged in the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee in South Dakota.

Senior U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom said Thursday that he sent a letter to President Barack Obama, saying he would step down from the bench in April.

"My term has been one of thorough happiness," Urbom told the president, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (

Urbom spent 17 years as a criminal and civil lawyer in Lincoln before being named to the federal bench in 1970 by then-President Richard Nixon. Four years later came one of Urbom's major cases: the 1974 trials of American Indian activists charged for their involvement in the fatal occupation of Wounded Knee, a village on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Members and supporters of the American Indian Movement held federal agents at bay for 71 days during the occupation. Two of the activists were killed and two government agents wounded.

Urbom presided over all of the trials because facts of the individual cases were similar. The trials began in Sioux Falls, S.D., but they were later moved to Lincoln. He eventually dismissed charges against about 100 of the activists for lack of evidence. Urbom found six of the 49 remaining defendants guilty, but an appeals court later overturned convictions of four.


Obama urged to use executive order to recognize Native Hawaiians

HONOLULU — Democrats are urging President Obama to bypass Capitol Hill once again and accomplish by executive order what Congress refused to do for 13 years: grant formal federal tribal recognition to Native Hawaiians.

The effort lost its most visible champion in January when Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, retired without having won passage for his namesake legislation, the so-called Akaka bill. The measure has not been introduced in the current Congress.

Even so, the timing may never be better for action: Mr. Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, has indicated his support for the Akaka bill. He also has shown a willingness to use his executive authority to bypass Congress on a host of issues including health care, welfare reform, immigration and climate change.

“The president is being asked to consider a number of potential executive actions,” Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Democrat, told the (Honolulu) Star-Advertiser last week. “That could take many forms, including something by the Department of Interior, or at the secretary level or something at the presidential level.”

Read more:

Honor the Treaties: Message of UN Human Rights Chief

‘Honor the Treaties’: UN Human Rights Chief’s Message
Gale Courey Toensing
August 23, 2013

States need to keep their promises and honor the treaties made with Indigenous Peoples no matter when they were signed, according to the United Nations human rights chief. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement August 7 to mark International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9.

“Even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of Indigenous Peoples, determining the relationship they have with the state. They are thus of major significance to human rights today,” she said.


Friday, August 23, 2013

We almost had no bill of rights

We take the (oft-threatened) protections of the Bill of Rights for granted. In 1789, a majority of states had ratified the new United States Constitution, elections had been held, and the newly minted Congressman, Senators and President proceeded to New York to begin the business of governing the United States. But not all of the states had ratified the Constitution, in no small part because it had no Bill of Rights. And some states had ratified it with the presumption that a Bill of Rights would be added. But the omission of the Bill of Rights had been no accident. The Federalists, believing in a strong central government, did not believe a Bill of Rights was needed as it had been in England to protect against the King. Yet the Anti-Federalists, wary of a strong central government, thought having one was imperative. It took the influence of Thomas Jefferson and the energy of James Madison to bring about a Bill of Rights. After passage, most Americans promptly forgot about these rights, and they remained judicially dormant until the twentieth century -- at which point they became as crucial to Americans as the originally ratified Constitution itself:
"Many of the states had ratified the Constitution on the understanding that some changes would be made in order to protect people's rights, and popular expectation was high that amendments would be added as soon as possible. ... It thus came as something of a surprise to many Americans to discover that the new federal Constitution contained no bill of rights. It was not that members of the Philadelphia Convention were uninterested in rights; to the contrary, the Constitution had been drafted in part to protect the rights of Americans.  
But in the United States rulers had no pre-existing independent governmental power; all rights and powers belonged to the sovereign people who parceled out bits and pieces sparingly and temporarily to their various delegated agents. Since the federal Constitution implied that every power not expressly delegated to the general government was reserved in the people's hands, a declaration reserving specific rights belonging to the people, said James Wilson, was 'superfluous and absurd.'  
"The Anti-Federalists were puzzled by these arguments. No other country in the world, said Patrick Henry, looked at government as a delegation of express powers. ...  
"The Federalists might have eventually been able to carry their case against such conventional thinking about government, had it not been for the intervention of Thomas Jefferson from his distant post as minister to France. Jefferson was not unsympathetic to the new Constitution and to a somewhat stronger national government, but he had little or no comprehension of the emerging and quite original political theory of the Federalists that underlay the new federal political system. For Jefferson, ... 'a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.' ...  
"[Jefferson's close friend James Madison had been against a Bill of Rights, but] in his hard-fought electoral campaign for the House of Representatives in the winter of 1788-1789, [he] had been compelled to make a public pledge, if elected, to work in the Congress for the adoption of a bill of rights.  
"[Though Madison was a Federalist], this promise made all the difference. If the Federalists, who dominated both houses of Congress in 1789, had had their way, there would have been no bill of rights. But once Madison's personal honor was involved, he was stubbornly bent on seeing it enacted. ... There is no question that it was Madison's personal prestige and his dogged persistence that saw the amendments through the Congress."
Author: Gordon S. Wood Title: Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford History of the United States) Publisher: Oxford University Press Date: Copyright 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc Pages: 65-69

DOJ pursues immunity for Bush and six others for Iraq war crimes

The Department of Justice has filed a Grant of Immunity for war crimes against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. The filing for the immunity of war crimes was made with the United States District Court, Northern District of California San Francisco Division.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

I was spied on: Author was FBI's Unabomber suspect

Peltier detractors love to point out that COINTELPRO* was discontinued a long time ago. All that's changed is the name.

For most, the controversial debate over the government’s surveillance practice is an impersonal philosophical question. Few can imagine that their relatively mundane lives would be of interest to CIA or FBI agents in pursuit of terrorists. So you can imagine the surprise of author William T. Vollmann when he recently sued the government for his FBI file and discovered he had once been designated and spied on as a suspect in both the Unabomber and anthrax cases. It’s a bizarre and shocking tale of surveillance that Vollmann describes in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine.

* Although the FBI's covert operations have been active throughout its history, the formal COunter INTELligence PROgram, or COINTELPRO, of the second half of the 20th century was centrally directed and targeted a range of political dissidents and organizations. The stated goals of COINTELPRO were to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" those persons or organizations that the FBI decided were "enemies of the State."

Federal sentencing impacts Indians

In a speech to the American Bar Association last week, United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, introduced a dramatically different approach to how the federal government will now prosecute and sentence non-violent drug offenders. The new approach calls for a reduction in federal prosecution of low-level offenders and advised federal prosecutors to recommend alternative sentencing to prison time.

These new guidelines, if implemented, will have a direct impact on the length and types of sentences doled out for drug crimes committed on Indian reservations.

“What no one is bringing up, especially the press in South Dakota, is what does this look like in Indian country? This really has an important connection to the Tribal Law and Order Act because what we see is that when tribes adopt the Tribal Law and Order Act it can increase their sentencing authority so more of these lower-level drug cases can go into tribal court instead of federal court. This is a good thing; we need more cases to go into tribal court,” he said.

The Tribal Law and Order Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The law strengthens the authority of tribal courts to increase jail sentences handed down in criminal cases. For many in Indian country it is seen as a way of expanding the sovereignty of tribes, however, certain criteria must be met by a tribal court prior to its implementation.

“What tribes can do with the Tribal Law and Order Act they don’t have to adopt the same western system you see in the federal courts or even the state courts. They can create systems of holistic approaches that can treat the individual,” added Johnson.

Johnson said that the new approach still doesn’t mean that prison time will be abandoned in all cases.

“I think that Attorney General Holder’s Smart Crime Initiative changes some of the focus for first and even second time offenders. The focus needs to be more on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. We don’t want our federal prisons to be places where people are warehoused and forgotten. It makes more sense to look at treatment options rather than merely incarceration. Now that doesn’t mean that people who are leading large conspiracies or are violent criminals are not going to receive prison time they still will. But particularly this is geared for nonviolent first time and nonviolent offenders,” said Johnson. 


Dakota Unity Ride comes through PdC 150 years after Davenport Prison Camp

Communities in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota are invited to participate in a ceremony to honor and remember the Dakota men and families imprisonment following the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862, at Fort McClellan in Davenport, Iowa. The ceremony is an opportunity to remember and reflect on a horrific part of history that is rarely told or taught, and to pray for healing between Dakota people and those who now call this region home.

The horse ceremony will travel through Prairie du Chien. Riders will begin Sept. 2 in Davenport, Iowa, and travel northwest through various Mississippi River communities before ending Sept. 19 at the Fort Snelling State Park Visitors Center in Mendota Heights, Minn.—the site of the Dakota concentration camp of 1862-63. The riders will travel 25 to 40 miles a day.

Organizers of the event would like to make it clear that this is not a “parade,” but a spiritual ride to honor the rider’s Dakota ancestors who died in Davenport.

The Unity Ride honors the Dakota warriors and family members who languished or died in the Camp McClellan prison camp in Davenport, Iowa, over a three-year period following the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. Because the Dakota were not allowed to practice their burial rites, the dead were buried by soldiers in a mass unmarked grave in a ravine.

The Unity Ride is a spiritual and reflective experience for participants. Non-Dakota people are invited to participate but are kindly asked to register for portions of the daily events by going to the following link:


Lawmakers, privacy groups rattled by latest NSA reveal

Congressional critics of government surveillance blasted the NSA and promised additional hearings after the Obama administration on Wednesday declassified documents that show thousands of Americans’ emails had been scooped up.

The unlawful collection, which the documents reflect ended in 2011, confirmed the worst fears of some lawmakers and civil liberties advocates — that the NSA’s ability to monitor foreigners’ Internet conversations had collided with the Constitution, threatened U.S. citizens and will require significant reforms.

Read more:

NYT Editorial: Pardon Rates Remain Low

Attorney General Eric Holder said many encouraging things in his important speech on the future of sentencing reform, but the most striking thing may have been what he did not say. In all his 4,000 words on America’s “broken” legal system — and particularly on its outlandishly harsh and ineffective sentencing laws — there was not one mention of executive clemency.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Donate to the Peltier Legal Fund

Leonard's legal and public education fund is managed by the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC) in DePere, WI. Your donation will help pay the significant legal expenses associated with Leonard's case—filing and cost recovery fees and attorney travel, for example—as well as community outreach and public education efforts conducted on his behalf. We accept money orders, checks, and credit/debit card payments. Please help. No amount is too small.

To make a tax deductible donation, send a check or money order made payable to "Wind Chases the Sun," a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity (and our fiscal sponsor) and write "LPDOC" on the Memo line. Send your donation to the below address to Wind Chases the Sun, N5679 Skylark Drive, DePere, WI 54115.

Or donate directly to the LPDOC online at

All proceeds benefit Leonard's defense fund and our public education strategies.  We guarantee we will not sell or trade our donors’ personal or contact information with any other organization, company, or individual.

Greenwich Village, 1961: Folksinging banned in that park

In April 1961, a few hundred young protestors took their placards and guitars to Washington Square in Greenwich Village to protest a new ban on folksinging in that park. In retrospect (and in the 15 minute historical video linked below), it appears as it was -- a sweet, almost heartbreaking portrait of innocence and invincible youth lost. Yet it was the harbinger of a decade of escalating protests to come. Musicians had been playing in Washington Square for at least a generation, but when blacks and "degenerate" folksingers began to come, neighbors complained. The folksingers' protest was ultimately successful.

Lakota Woman

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fight the Power: 100 Heroes of Native Resistance, Part 1

There were many Native heroes and many who resisted; here are a few from the 1700s and 1800s


Fight the Power! 100 Heroes of Native Resistance, Part 2

There were many Native resistance fighters from the 1500s to the 1800s who made a name for themselves in our country’s volatile history.


Dakota Uprising Begins With Let Them Eat Grass!

Dakota Uprising Begins With ‘Let Them Eat Grass!’

On August 17, 1862, after a summer season of failed crops and diminished lands, the Dakota Uprising commenced when the U.S. government failed to pay the Dakota’s annuities. Local trader and store owner Andrew Myrick refused to allow credit for food until their payments arrived. “Let them eat grass,” he said.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Amnesty International - USA: Sign the petition for Leonard Peltier

Sign Here

Radical Resistance Tour Episode 10: Pine Ridge, South Dakota

The Radical Resistance Tour ( is an autonomous project by a group of former Occupy Wall Street organizers. We're touring the United States and interviewing activists, people participating in direct actions, and people working to create a dual power model. We want to show people who aren't on the ground how people are being directly affected by decisions being made by corporations and governments that put profits over people and the environment. We want to inspire more people to fight back by featuring people who are already fighting back, and hopefully gain some shared wisdom by listening to how others are resisting.

Episode 10: Pine Ridge, South Dakota from Radical Resistance Tour on Vimeo.

Pine Ridge Reservation Deaths To Be Reinvestigated

The U.S. attorney in South Dakota is reexamining a number of deaths that occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation nearly 40 years ago. The federal government has jurisdiction over major crimes in Indian country and some Oglala Sioux tribal officials allege a cover-up of at least 45 deaths. South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Charles Michael Ray takes a look at the new investigation and the attempt to heal some old wounds created in a period of unparalleled violence.



Friday, August 16, 2013

Sentencing Commission Votes To Address Mandatory Minimum Penalties

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to address concerns with mandatory minimum prison penalties.

The commission action follows a Justice Department policy shift that was announced on Monday. Attorney General Eric Holder said the department would target long mandatory sentences that he says have flooded the nation's prisons with low-level drug offenders and diverted crime-fighting dollars that could be better spent.

On Thursday, the sentencing commission set as its top priority continuing to work with Congress to change federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prison reform gets a big boost

Prison reform gets a big boost: "At its annual conference in Maryland, members of the American Correctional Association adopted a resolution addressing the need to step back from a penal code that regularly forces federal and state judges to hand down harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes. 'ACA’s members know from long and first-hand experience that crowding within correctional systems increases violence, threatens overall security within a facility, and hampers rehabilitation efforts,' ACA president and Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner Chris Epps said in a statement."


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

UN rapporteur urges all nations to honour treaties with natives

A top United Nations expert on indigenous rights is calling on countries across the world to honour treaties with indigenous peoples, saying doing so is a crucial part of addressing historical wrongs and moving toward reconciliation. Prof. James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, didn't specifically mention Canada, but his remarks come as treaty talks between the Harper government and First Nations leaders appear to be making little headway.

"Full respect for treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements is a crucial element in advancing toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples," Anaya said Friday to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

"Broken treaties must become a thing of the past."

Anaya also said he will make an official visit to Canada from Oct. 12 to 20, permission for which he had been requesting since February 2012. UN rapporteurs must have the consent of member countries to make official visits.


Avaaz Petition for Leonard Peltier

This petition has been updated and now includes a statement from Leonard.  Please read it... and sign down if you haven't already done so. Then share!!

The Sweeping Presidential Power to Help Prisoners That Holder Did Not Mention

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out against the impacts of “draconian” sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” said Holder.

But in unveiling the new “smart on crime” initiative, Holder skipped mention of the sweeping power the president has to shorten or forgive a federal prisoner’s sentence [including the sentence of Leonard Peltier].

Read more:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Undercover Agents Infiltrated Tar Sands Resistance Camp to Break up Planned Protest

TransCanada and Department of Homeland Security keep close eye on activists, FOIA documents reveal After a week of careful planning, environmentalists attending a tar sands resistance action camp in Oklahoma thought they had the element of surprise — but they would soon learn that their moves were being closely watched by law enforcement officials and TransCanada, the very company they were targeting.


One of Leonard's ongoing concerns is for the environment.  Visit for more information.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eric Holder Outlining New Justice Department Drug Sentencing Reforms

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department will avoid charging certain low-level and nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carry mandatory minimums, Attorney General Eric Holder will announce Monday. The policy shift will allow certain defendants -- those without ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels -- to avoid what Holder called "draconian mandatory minimum sentences."

Holder is also expected to announce that he's expanding efforts to reduce federal prison populations by releasing elderly prisoners sooner, by allowing local U.S. Attorneys not to prosecute some kinds of cases in federal court and by diverting 'low-level offenders' to programs that keep them out of hardcore federal prisons. The initiative is aimed at building on growing bipartisan momentum at the state level-and to a lesser intent in Congress-to retreat from some of the harshest anti-crime measures adopted in the 1980s and 1990s.


See also:

Stop and Frisk Policy in New York City Violated Rights, Judge Rules

In a repudiation of a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy, a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Change Has Finally Come

Chancellar Williams August 9, 2013 Amazing news: The Federal Communications Commission is ending the out-of-control pricing on prison phone calls.

For years, prisoners and their families have had to pay up to $20 for a 15-minute call. The high cost of these calls made it difficult — sometimes impossible — for families to stay in touch. Over 10 years ago, Martha Wright, who faced significant financial challenges while trying to stay in contact with her incarcerated grandson, petitioned the FCC to make prison phone calls affordable.

Over the years, people all over the country joined Martha Wright’s cause and helped push the FCC to take action.

Today the FCC approved an order that requires phone companies servicing prisons to establish rates based on actual costs. This means the days of pricy prison phone calls are officially over.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign

Leonard Peltier is on the honorary advisory committee and our NYC Chapter is participating.

Learn more:

Onondaga Leader Oren Lyons, Pete Seeger on International Day of the Indigenous Peoples

Democracy Now:

Send Birthday Greetings to Leonard Peltier

Leonard's birthday is on 12 September.  Send cards and letters:

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Coleman I
PO Box 1033
Coleman, FL  33521

Gael Force Art Display on Behalf of Leonard Peltier

Today, Gael Force Art placed a gigantic display of protest on Black Mountain in Belfast for long time activist and political prisoner Leonard Peltier. Well done !!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leonard Peltier, One of the World’s Longest-Held Political Prisoners

In the Coleman, FL, Penitentiary, about 60 miles west/northwest of Orlando, there's an American who's been in U.S. prisons fighting for his freedom and the freedom of his people for almost four decades. Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota, was wrongfully convicted of killing two FBI agents in a shootout on the Pine Ridge, SD, Indian reservation on June 26, 1975. He and other members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were there at the request of traditional Lakota people on that reservation who were opposing the exploitation of their mineral resources and were met with much oppression as a result. AIM supported their efforts and sent a contingent of its members, led by Peltier, to protect the people.


Slate will no longer call Washington football team ‘Redskins’

Slate Editor David Plotz writes. “Would any team, naming itself today, choose ‘Redskins’ or adopt the team’s Indian-head logo? Of course it wouldn’t.”

As Plotz points out, other media outlets shun the name. The Washington City Paper — where I used to work and which Redskins owner Dan Snyder once sued over an article he hadn’t read — announced last October it would call the team the “Pigskins.” DCist gave it up in February.

“Beyond the period at the end of this sentence, I intend never to use the word redskin again,” The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham wrote in January. The Kansas City Star “doesn’t normally” use the name: “I remain unconvinced by every argument I’ve ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple,” the paper’s public editor, Derek Donovan wrote last September.

After Slate’s piece went out, The New Republic announced it, too, would change its stylebook and stop referring to the team by its official nickname.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Misbehaving Prosecutors and the System That Protects Them

Prosecutors and their advocates say complete and absolute immunity from civil liability is critical to the performance of their jobs. They argue that self-regulation and professional sanctions from bar associations are sufficient to deter misconduct. Yet there's little evidence that bar associations are doing anything to police prosecutors, and numerous studies have shown that those who misbehave are rarely if ever professionally disciplined.

Read >>  The Untouchables: America's Misbehaving Prosecutors, And The System That Protects Them @