Agency to remove art by Native American activist prisoner Leonard Peltier

A woman reads a description of Leonard Peltier's oil painting, "Steve Reevis," center on wall in 2001. Peltier is serving two consecutive life terms for the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.A woman reads a description of Leonard Peltier's oil painting, "Steve Reevis," center on wall in 2001. Peltier is serving two consecutive life terms for the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

A woman reads a description of Leonard Peltier’s oil painting, “Steve Reevis,” center on wall in 2001. Peltier is serving two consecutive life terms for the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The Associated Press 

 

TUMWATER, WASH. – A Washington state agency plans to remove four paintings by an inmate serving time for killing two FBI agents after former law enforcement officers complained about the artwork’s inclusion in a lobby art exhibit.

The paintings were done in prison by Leonard Peltier, 71, a Native American activist who is serving two consecutive life sentences in the deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

The works were hanging near the front doors of the state Department of Labor and Industries’ headquarters in Tumwater, Washington, and part of an exhibit to mark National American Indian Heritage Month, KING-TV in Seattle reported (http://goo.gl/ckVGrA ).

An association representing retired FBI agents demanded the state agency remove the paintings.

“He’s nothing but a thug,” said retired FBI agent Ray Lauer. “He’s an unrepentant cop killer.”

Lauer is a member of the Retired FBI Agents Association, which wrote a letter to Labor and Industries demanding the paintings be removed.

“For the state of Washington to use taxpayers’ dollars to basically offer a free art gallery to somebody who is a convicted cop killer, I find it, as a law enforcement officer, appalling and quite frankly disgusting as taxpayer also,” Lauer said.

The state agency said it will replace the paintings this week with other artwork.

Displaying the work wasn’t meant as an endorsement of Peltier’s cause, said Tim Church, a state Labor and Industries spokesman. It was simply meant to be about Native American art, he said.

“We feel badly about the impressions that they’re taking from it. We truly do. That was in no way our intent,” Church said.

Peltier’s case has been a source of protest over the decades.

His son, Chauncey Peltier, said there is no evidence his father killed anyone. He has been exhibiting his father’s paintings around the country to raise awareness about his father’s attempt to gain a presidential pardon.

Native American Activists Could Sue The City Of Nashville Over Ancient Remains

By Bobby Allyn, Nashville Public Radio

Albert Bender says the new Sounds stadium should be put on hold to find more ancient artifacts. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District/Flickr)

Albert Bender says the new Sounds stadium should be put on hold to find more ancient artifacts. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District/Flickr)

Native American activists are asking Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to halt the construction of a new minor league baseball stadium after archeologists discovered ancient artifacts. One Native American activist said a lawsuit could follow if the city ignores their demands.

Activist Albert Bender writes about Native American history for a living. He said more time should be given to archeologists to study the site. Bender considers next spring’s scheduled opening date of the new $150-million-dollar Sounds Stadium to be arbitrary.

“What is the problem with halting the construction of the ballpark for a few months to a year, when we’re talking about thousands of years of history that is waiting to be unearthed?” Bender asks.

What archeologists dug from the earth were ancient pottery used to boil water in the production of salt, which was then exported around the South some 800 years ago.

Archeologists will publish a detailed analysis of all findings form the site next month.

Last week, Bender presented the mayor with a list of demands. If the stadium construction isn’t put on pause, Bender would like to see the site at least commemorated in some way.

Among his suggestions is the development of an “interpretative center” in which the artifacts could be publicly viewed in a separate museum-like building.

“This is something we’re considering,” said Bonna Johnson, spokeswoman for Mayor Karl Dean. “We’ve asked the ballpark project team to look at ways to pay homage to the Native American history in that area. We will continue conversations with the Native American groups that approached us about this and work toward a solution.”

Bender says his American Indian Coalition, which is not an incorporated group, represents “all Native Americans who feel the way we do,” but it does to have an official member count.

Bender, who is an attorney but not licensed to practice in Tennessee, says suing over the matter is not out of the question.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time anything of this nature has ever been found in the state of Tennessee, or any where in the South” said Bender, who is writing a book on Native American history. “There is so much knowledge to be gained form this site, and we feel it far outweighs any artificial schedule, rush schedule, for the completion of the ballpark.”

A similar battle unfolded in Miami recently, where preservationists convinced developers to redesign a long-planned hotel to include a display of an ancient Native American village discovered during construction. The battle delayed the project for weeks and generated international attention.

Bender said the Miami case has many parallels with Nashville’s, and he said the success of preservationists there could embolden his own effort.