#89637-132. That is the inmate number for American Indian Activist, Leonard Peltier at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Peltier has been incarcerated for the double murder of two federal agents for 35 years. Millions of people across the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, believe that he is innocent of the crimes.
I have enough Creek Indian blood in to fill up my hand ! Although proud wouldn’t begin to tell how I feel about that blood, I have no business writing this post, as I have not lived the life of an American Indian. I have not been singled out in the world of white America. Not lived on a Rez, in government housing, or seen first hand the continuing atrocities dealt to a proud people all in the name of “more”. Have not had my culture stripped and stolen away. I have not been the OTHER. I would hope, when you are Leonard Peltier, that any voice bringing even the faintest of lights to your world, would be a welcomed voice. That is my wish to bring a light to Leonard Peltier’s life as well as the continued discrimination and atrocities leveled on the indigenous peoples of this land we call the United States of America.
This post, and I will attempt to keep it short, will focus on the events of June 26, 1975. On that date two federal agents chased a young man onto the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for stealing a pair of used cowboy boots. A huge firefight erupted leaving one Indian supported and two Federal agents dead. Part of the firefight was supported by FBI, BIA and local GOON squads. That’s a lot of firepower for a pair of stolen used cowboy boots. Even more interesting that many of those were in place around the Jumping Bull family compound at least 30 minutes before the eruption. If the basic level of human civil rights isn’t of interest to you, you should X out of this post. If not, and I hope that is the case, simply because if you, like me, want to see America be all that it can be and live up to the ideals we talk about, then we must always pursue truth.
I understand that two agents were killed. Men that had families. That is not to be taken lightly. I would hope if my father had been killed, I would want the ones that actually killed him, not a representative. I feel for those families very deeply, but I also feel for people who have been getting the short end of the stick for a long time, and with the minerals under their land are still getting the short end. So if this story peaks your interest, there are a few sites for you to check out, as well as a couple of books and movies to see.
Incident at Oglala, directed by Robert Redford
In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
Thunderheart starring Val Kilmer and Sam Shepard
Prison Writings by Leonard Peltier
You can also google Desmond Tutu as well as writer Harvey Arden.
I cannot imagine what it must feel like to try to find a way to defend your community and your people against an unfair oppression, whether it be in Darfur or anywhere else in the world. To feel so helpless and to have such a small voice. When the ones you love are minimized and dehumanized. When they seem to count for nothing. To me that must be a small taste of the frustration the American Indians of this land must feel.
In the readings I’ve done on this, it seems as if even the government admits that they don’t really know who killed those agents, and admit that so much of the evidence and the trial was fabricated. Someone need to pay, and guess what, Leonard Peltier was gonna be that someone.
So what do we do? What can we do? It’s a helpless feeling really. A tide that feels like it can’t be turned. Perhaps like slavery once was. but it is one person at a time, one vote, one letter to your congressman, president. One open heart, one extended hand. One God, one love.
Please check out the story and life of Leonard Peltier. It’s a tragic portion of all of our stories. Be careful tho, you will lose a little bit of your innocence, but I think maybe we might need to lose a little of our innocence before we can find it again somewhere down the line. Mitakuye Oyasin…we are all related brothers and sisters. I hope you interpret this with the honor and respect for justice in which it was written.
Again I hope for your thoughts and comments. Agreeing or not. Interested or not.