Leonard Peltier – Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Source: Native News Network
COLEMAN, FLORIDA – Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who has been imprisoned for the past 37 years, issued statement yesterday on the Fourth of July.
Peltier is serving a life sentence in the US Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida. He was accused of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was convicted in 1977.
Peltier is considered to be a political prisoner of war by many American Indians throughout the United States and others worldwide. Through the years, Peltier’s supporters have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among other prominent names.
The following is Mr. Peltier’s statement:
Greetings My Relatives, Friends and Supporters,
I was told that many of you are staging some vigils and demonstrations of sorts on my behalf and that I should perhaps make a statement.
As always and first of all, I want to say how deeply appreciative I am of your concerns and I am humbled by the efforts that you have taken to keep my case alive. I also want to say and quite honestly, that my case at this point in time really isn’t about me as much as it is about wrongful illegal immoral policies that they practice against our people. And at this juncture of history though these practices were for the most part exercised first on my people they have now crossed over into all peoples, especially the poor. Or anyone that doesn’t have the political or monetary power to combat their system and bring to public awareness the transgressions upon those who can ill afford to defend themselves.
I am not as well read on European American history as I am the history of my own people, but I have some knowledge of it and I find it quite ironic that the first recorded death of a person fighting to throw off the yoke of England on the colonies was a man named Crispus Atticus, who was half black and half Indian.
The two most persecuted races in America today, yet he died that the fledgling government of that time would live. And today in Washington DC he is remembered primarily because of a youth center in a predominately black area of Washington DC. I became aware of that fact when a group of people like yourselves in support of me rode into Washington DC on horses on Earth Day 1990; they camped out at Crispus Atticus Center.
At the time the colonies declared their independence the Europeans had already been here for close to 200 plus years. The diseases that were brought by the Europeans had a death rate among native people of 90 something percent and for a long time the history books were saying that when the pilgrims came this was largely an unoccupied land. There were and estimated one million people in America as portrayed by conventional history books. In more recent times however, discoveries have shown that approx 90 million of our people were lost throughout the Americas as a result of disease and wars with the Europeans.
…if I’m getting into a rant, but that’s what comes to mind when I think about 1776 and the Declaration of Independence, which brings to mind the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. I know the Declaration of Independence declares colonizers independent from England and subsequent treaties they declared to be truthful and binding. The treaties they declared to be binding with my people, which number approximately three hundred and seventy something that were ratified by Congress, have been violated feloniously every day. The subsequent Constitution of the United States that in actuality is a treaty between the American government and the people of America is being violated feloniously every day. It declares a person has a right to a free and impartial trial, by an impartial judge, by an impartial jury and enumerates other values of law that were violated feloniously in my case and have been violated feloniously in many cases. And this is still happening.
Freeing me would not change that policy that has been perpetuated against my people; I am only just living evidence of it. And I am as I say, humbly grateful, that you recognize me as such. Freeing me at this time would bring immeasurable joy to my family, friends and loved ones, but we as a people need to address the issues that put me here and that keeps me here because it affects all of us, not just people in prisons, not just people in Guantanamo that have been there for years that have not been charged or tried but it affects all of us; that’s any of you within the sound of the voice that’s reading this statement. And those who can’t hear it or can’t read it – it affects all of us.
Right now in America we not only have the issues of justice and freedom for all so to speak, but we have the issues of clean water and air for all to breath. And to be free from radiation poisoning, and be free from mercury poisoning and a host of chemicals that I can’t even pronounce, that are being released into our environment by wealthy corporations who seem to care less for the people and only for the almighty dollar. This is so hard to talk about because it is so close to my heart and thoughts that it makes me so highly emotional that it disturbs my train of thought sometimes. I want so much to be free but more than that I want you and my children and my children’s children and all our future generations to be declared free. Free to breathe clean air and drink clean water and eat natural clean foods and walk a clean earth. The Declaration on the Rights for Indigenous People by the UN is meant to protect us and our lands for future generations and help us reclaim justly any of our losses. But I really want to get you to think about this because you are quickly becoming another version of the indigenous peoples because you are next in line to be exploited of whatever resources you have, whether it be your land to extend a pipeline across it, or dig a uranium mine somewhere that pollutes the water tables or the air or the land like they did on the Navajo Reservation and so many other places.
I believe Obama has a good heart and is doing the best he can within the confines of the government. And he has said he supports the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and he has signed it, the world is now united on this issue, but implementation has yet to be seen like so many other DECLARATIONS I was somewhat amused by the play on words when one of my native brothers said they should call the upcoming holiday the Fourth of You Lie. I found it momentarily amusing but in reality we are faced with serious consequences if we do not bring about change that puts us in harmony with the Creator and the Mother Earth and one another, and not just here in America but all over the world. People aren’t blowing themselves up because they want to go to heaven they are blowing themselves up because they want corporations and people to stop exploiting them and their resources.
There was a time in history of America when they outlawed our religion.
They declared in another declaration that we should stop sun dancing that we should stop ghost dancing, they declared that we should stop anything that brought us together. And that was because our people would fight to the death for the belief that living in harmony with the Great Spirit, Mother Earth, our fellow man and respecting our brother’s vision was worth dying for.
Before I made this statement I deeply thought about it and I prayed about it, and thought about it some more, and the main thing I want to do is say something that would make a difference in a positive way. I sincerely hope that you will consider my words and I hope that in a positive way what I said will affect you. I want to encourage you to appreciate one another, love one another and do your best to work together, that we can feel good in the fact that we did the best we could. From my heart to your heart, enjoy your life; enjoy the fact that you can hold the ones you love and see them when you want and declare yourselves independent of anything that would take away from you.
In closing I want to say may the Great Spirit be with you always in all ways.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Friends for as long as you will have me,