Birthday Message from Leonard Peltier
- September 6, 2010
Sisters, brothers, friends and supporters,
I wish I could sit across the table from each of you right now. We'd
share a meal and reflect on changes in this world over these 35 or so
years. Yes, I pay attention to things on the outside (as much as
possible). I know the world is in turmoil and I ache for the Native
people who languish in utter poverty on reservations and in inner
cities across America.
As a young man, all I wanted to do was make a positive difference in
the People's lives. I'll turn 66 years old next week and I still
want that. It's difficult to have an impact in my current
circumstances, though. That's a constant source of frustration for
me. On the outside, given the chance to roll up my sleeves once
again, I suspect I'd still be somewhat frustrated. All that must be
done is more than any one person can accomplish. I'd still like the
opportunity to do my part.
Thinking back to those days on Pine Ridge, what I remember is the
funerals. There were so many funerals... So many families lost loved ones.
There was a powerful force at work on the reservation back then, one
with a single purpose--to stamp out the last resistance of the Lakota people.
We (the Oglala traditionals and members of the American Indian
Movement) stood up because we were trying to defend our People. It
was the right thing to do. We had--have--the right to survive.
The land was being stolen, too, used for mining mostly. No thought
was given to the disposal of toxic waste. The rivers were full of
poisons. Not much has changed, I hear.
In those days, though, the reservation was torn apart by a tribal
dispute and the federal government armed one group against another.
The result was a long line of tragedies for the People of Pine Ridge,
and for the People who were there that day in June 1975.
I honestly understand the pain and anguish suffered by all concerned
and I have been part of that suffering.
I have watched people lie on the witness stand countless times and
felt the doors closing on me.
I have heard judges admonish prosecutors for allowing false evidence
in and, in some cases, for participating in the falsification itself.
The government hid evidence, too.
Or manufactured it. Literally.
The courts say none of this is even in dispute anymore. So I wonder,
if the American standard of justice is still "beyond a reasonable
doubt," why am I still here?
Some people have had their convictions overturned because of one
constitutional violation. The number of constitutional violations in
my case is staggering. Yet, I continue to wait here for the same
justice to be applied for me.
I hope that someday someone can put it all on the table and show the
enormity of the railroading I have been victimized by.
Last year, as you know, my parole was denied. That was a
disappointment, but I am not defeated. My fight for freedom--for my
People and myself--is not over. I am a pipe carrier and a
Sundancer. Abandoning The Struggle is not--never will be--a consideration.
I am an Indian man and proud of it. I love my People and culture and
spiritual beliefs. My enemies like to suggest otherwise and seek to
rob me of all dignity. They won't succeed.
When I look back over all the years, I remember all the good people
who have stood up for me, for a day or a decade. Of course, many have
stayed with me all along the way. I think of the hundreds of
thousands of people around the world who have signed petitions for
me, too... people on the poorest of reservations to the highest of
As we have learned over these many years, my freedom won't come
quickly or easily. To succeed, the coming battle will have to be
hard fought. Please continue to help my Committee and legal team as
you have always done. Your support is more important now than ever
before. When freedom comes, it will be due in no small part to the
actions you take on my behalf.
Again, thank you for remembering me. You can't know the comfort you
bring to an innocent man locked away from the world for so very long.
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Launched into cyberspace by the
Leonard Peltier Defence Offense Committee
PO Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106
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