Friday, January 16, 2009

Statement From Leonard Peltier on Recent Transfer

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee Newsletter

Leonard was transferred on Jan. 13 to a high-security federal prison in Canann, Pennsylvania, northeast of his former facility in Lewisburg. Prison authorities have assured us that he will retain his phone and painting privileges and access to his diabetes medication, but we will keep you posted on the transition. Many thanks to all of you who wrote the BOP on his behalf. Please write to Leonard at his new address below.

Do not send funds to this address; use this address when sending correspondence and parcels to inmates confined at this facility.

Leonard Peltier
Inmate #89637-132
P.O. BOX 300

Please write, call, or fax (Senators do not read email) Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who recently stated his belief that Leonard Peltier’s trial was “fair and just.” Dorgan is chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which is responsible for the funding and oversight of the BIA police force that terrorized the Pine Ridge reservation in the 1970s.

Even if he does not support Leonard Peltier, Dorgan must acknowledge that the families of victims of federal violence such as Pedro Bissonette, Buddy Lamont, Sandra Wounded Foot, Frank Clearwater, and many others deserve the same recognition and respect as those of FBI agents Coler and Williams. Their deaths have gone not only for the most part unpunished, but also uninvestigated.

History, as well as justice, demands a full congressional investigation of the events of 1973-1977 on Pine Ridge and beyond. Dorgan clearly has much to learn, and he should begin his education by asking the FBI why they are continuing to withhold documents and how they could have “misplaced” the Myrtle Poor Bear files, as they recently claimed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. We must pressure Sen. Dorgan, as well as educate him.

As committee chairman, he will have to be more responsive to tribal demands, so tribal resolutions directed to both Dorgan and Obama are more important than ever. We will be drafting a model resolution soon, so please contact our office if you would like to work on presenting it to your tribal council. But please call or write Sen. Dorgan (form letter below for guidance) by next week and forward any responses you may receive.

For Freedom in 09,


Senator Byron Dorgan
Washington, DC
322 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone (202) 224-2551
Fax (202) 224-1193

Dear Senator Dorgan:

I was disappointed to learn that you consider the conviction and sentencing of indigenous activist Leonard Peltier to have been “fair and just.” Amnesty International, which closely observed the 1977 trial and subsequent hearings and appeals, came to quite the opposite conclusion. In calling for Leonard’s “immediate and unconditional” release on Nov. 16, 2000, the human rights organization stated that it “has repeatedly voiced serious concerns over the fairness of the legal proceedings which led to Leonard Peltier’s conviction and sentence, and believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was conducted.”

Every federal appeals court which has reviewed the trial has found evidence of government misconduct in the case, even while denying Peltier a new trial. For instance, Appeals Court Judge Gerald Heaney, who rejected Peltier’s motion for a new trial in 1986 on technical legal grounds, five years later wrote that “the United States government must share responsibility with the Native Americans for the June 26 firefight.”

As Heaney also wrote, “We, as a nation, must treat Native Americans more fairly….Favorable action by the President in the Leonard Peltier case would be an important step in this regard.” As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, you are in a position to initiate this healing process.

It must be remembered that agents Coler and Williams were far from the only victims of the conflict on Pine Ridge, in which the BIA and FBI were key players in propping up a corrupt dictatorship. You owe it to your constituents and to yourself to conduct a full-fledged investigation into the dozens of deaths on Pine Ridge in the 1970s.

Such a process, perhaps along the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will help heal the wounds of the forgotten victims of U.S.-backed death squads, as well as contribute to a fuller understanding of our shared history that will help prevent future conflicts.


Your Name

Leonard's Statement Before Transfer: Dictated by phone January 12, 2009

Greetings my relatives, friends and/or captors

To my relatives and friends, I want to especially thank you for your generosity in this season of giving they call Christmas. And I want you to know I’m mindful of the reason for the season as they say, for Jesus himself was a political prisoner.

He stood up against the warmongers the exploiters of his people and he was imprisoned and hung out to dry, likewise so many other people who have stood up against those who would exploit the lives and resources of people around the world. I don’t claim to be of any significance on their level, I am but one man of many who have stood up against exploiters that would use force to inflict their value system upon a weaker people.

I am in the process right now of being transferred; I had hoped to be transferred to a facility on the Turtle Mountain Reservation while I dealt with other legal issues regarding my imprisonment. However my captors have once again triumphed in their continuing efforts to break me. They have sent me even farther away from my traditional homeland.

I hear them and others continually talk about justice. One of the bureaucrats in North Dakota when becoming aware of my efforts to be transferred to Turtle Mountain spoke up and said he believed justice is being served in my continued imprisonment. I sincerely hope good people will take note of this person, Senator Byron Dorgan, on the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs. It is quite obvious that he has no knowledge of true Indian History, no knowledge of my case, and is only a lackey for those who wish to keep us always subject to their version of what justice is.

They have at times called me a thug and a cold blooded murderer, but I know historically they called Geronimo a cold blooded murderer and savage, they called Crazy Horse a cold blooded murderer and savage, they called Captain Jack of the Modocs a cold blooded murderer and savage, they called Black Hawk of the Sauk a cold blooded murderer and savage, they called Tecumseh a cold blooded murderer and savage, they called Sitting Bull a cold blooded murderer and savage …and the list goes on and on.

The one thing all these men have in common is they were all imprisoned or killed by this government; they were all patriots in their own land, trying to stop the illegal immoral taking of their people’s land and resources.

They didn’t call the men who murdered our people at Wounded Knee thugs and savages, they didn’t call the snipers who shot Frank Clearwater at Wounded Knee in 73 a murderer, they didn’t call the ones who shot Buddy Lamont a cold blooded murderer, they didn’t call the ones who shot Joe Stuntz a cold blooded murderer, they didn’t call the sniper who shot that young woman and baby in 1992 at Ruby Ridge Idaho in a cold blooded murder, they didn’t call the ones who burned the men, women and children to death at Waco, Texas in 1993 in cold blooded murderers.

I assume cold blooded means you have no sense of right or wrong or something of that nature when you take a life. And if that is so, then this country is full of cold blooded murderers and thugs because by proxy they have killed thousands of innocent men women and children in Iraq and most recently in Afghanistan, I’ve seen them on TV. I’ve seen the pictures of children’s bodies piled on top of each other. And right now the US funds Israel’s war machine as they kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children.

Einstein once said, “All things are relative” and “For every action there is a reaction.” In the traditional way our people teach the same. In all the major religions around the world it is taught the same way before Einstein ever drew a breath. Every person in America who allows this injustice to continue without voicing any opposition is a party to murder on some level.

Someone once said and it is a truism, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is good men to say nothing.” And if Einstein is correct and Jesus is correct then you reap what you sow, and Buddha is correct who said there are karmic laws that must repay or be repaid for whatever you do then this nation had better start paying attention. It is financially at this point bankrupt. It is spiritually and morally bankrupt.

I’m sure this letter won’t buy me any favored treatment. Actually I don’t know that anything ever has. They had a plot to kill me once that didn’t work. They have denied me medical treatment that I need. I have arthritis in my knees. I have a semi dysfunctional jaw from lack of medical treatment. I have 80% loss of vision in one eye. And I have other internal organ infirmities that need medical treatment.

But though I have trouble walking I will stand and voice my objection to the cold blooded mistreatment of indigenous people in this land and others. I will speak out always against the cold blooded atrocities that are caused directly by military weapons and/or political policies that cause people to take their own lives as in my country and other countries around the world. And though my vision may be failing me somewhat I can still read the writing on the wall.

Though this country is in great financial peril money - is not the cure. There are some writings today that this country will be destroyed by fire, well let me tell you, or should I say, reiterate the words of my elders and others; the fires are burning now, right now today all over the world the fires are burning. There will be natural devastation upon devastation coming to this country that has used the land and resources of my people to pollute and destroy the natural order of life. You reap what you sow. And as my people say everything that goes around comes around. As Einstein said, “For every action there is a reaction.”

I may live a hundred years or I may die tomorrow; but I will always have concern and sorrow for those innocent people that lose their lives. It is such a great tragedy that even some of those who pull the triggers and attack others have been convinced they are doing the right thing for some bureaucrat with little or no understanding of life that espouses some rhetoric about justice being served.

If I sound angry or hurt or disappointed or a multitude of other emotions you would probably be correct. I remember once upon a time, in my naïve belief that sooner or later I would be free and justice would be served. In my case after 33 years of illegal imprisonment justice will never be served, it will be up to the Creator to bring about a reaction that may in some future time balance the scales. But for me and the others like me, whether they are among other prisoners in the US prison system or dead in the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza Strip or South America or some reservation road or some ghetto street, justice is not being served at this time.

If there is anything further I could say that would affect you in some way it would be to encourage you to take a few minutes out of your life and quietly sit and reflect and maybe just maybe you can hear the mothers crying for their lost children and the men crying for their lost wives and daughters and the grandfathers crying for their lost sons and I could say more but perhaps you may have grown tired of my commentary. Thank you for your time, thank you for reading this, and don’t let evil triumph. Say something.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and all the others who gave their lives that future generations might enjoy some time together on this beautiful mother earth,

Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations)

Leonard Peltier

PS. I also want to take this opportunity to whole heartedly thank all those who wrote the prison on my behalf recently seeking my transfer to Turtle Mountain facility in North Dakota. Thank you.

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