Leonard Peltier has become an international symbol for Indigenous liberation. After serving forty years in federal prison for a crime he did not commit, it is time progressive people of the world demand President Obama grant Leonard clemency.
With Leonard’s failing health and the winding down of Obama’s tenure, this may be the last chance at freedom.
We must act now!
Many want to demonize Leonard Peltier, as they have demonized our Indigenous leaders in the past. They ask, where are your heroes? And they can only name leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
We can name a hero—his name is Leonard Peltier.
We can also point to a vibrant and thriving Indigenous culture—a culture of resistance.
People such as: Madonna Thunder Hawk, Marcella Gilbert, Lakota Harden, Mable Ann Eagle Hunter, Regina Brave, LaNada War Jacket, Radmilla Cody, Mary Dann, Cary Dann, Larry Casuse, Robert Nakaidinae, John Redhouse, Earl Tulley, Sylvia Clahchischilli, Anna Frazier, Chili Yazzie, Jennifer Denetdale, Stella Martin, Melanie Yazzie, Klee Benally, Janene Yazzie, Simon Ortiz, Petuuche Gilbert, Charmaine White Face, Chief Terese Spence, Chief Frank Fools Crow, Matthew King, Amanda Blackhorse, LaDonna Harris, John Thomas, Larry Foster, Lenny Foster, Hank Adams, Rigoberta Menchu, Evo Morales, Richard Oakes, Lee Brightman, Rosalie Little Thunder, John Trudell, Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and many, many more named and unnamed Indigenous freed fighters.
These are our heroes—some have walked on. Many still walk next to us.
The Red Nation and Indigenous Albuquerque were honored when Leksi Leonard accepted the title of Grand Marshal for the city’s first-ever Indigenous Peoples Day. What happened last October re-awakened the spirit of liberation Leonard holds in his heart. We share that same spirit.
As the planet burns, we are truly what Franz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” Corporations want to privatize and make scarce precious resources, while making this world uninhabitable in the name of profit. Our Apache relatives at Oak Flat stand against the privatization and wanton destruction of their sacred site. The Diné, Tó Bei Nihi Dziil, fight against the corporate pollution and reallocation of precious water resources.
When our homelands are no long inhabitable, we move to places like Gallup, Farmington, and Albuquerque. In these border towns we encounter violence and discrimination while they steal our precious resources and exploit our relatives, reducing us to paupers in our homelands.
Indigenous people in the U.S. are the most incarcerated population in the world. In places like South Dakota, prison populations have increased more than 500 percent since 1976. Most are Lakota and Dakota brothers and sisters. Mass incarceration was used as a tool to silence our political leadership, now it is used to eliminate our populations by removing us from our lands.
It is truly inspiring for Native people in Turtle Island to hear the international calls demanding clemency for Leonard, especially from people with whom we share similar histories of colonization. These histories link us to the people of Palestine, the Aboriginal People of Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, the thousands of Indigenous Nations of Africa and Asia, and all the Red Nations of the Americas.
In conclusion, we must ask how can the U.S. affirm democracy abroad when it is still denied to Indigenous peoples?
We, Indigenous peoples, are the constant reminder of that hypocrisy. And we refuse to go away. We refuse to be silent. We refuse to disappear.
That’s the Indigenous spirit Leonard Peltier embodies after four decades of incarceration. And it is time that spirit is set free.
Call and write Obama. Let him know the progressive people of the world demand clemency for Leonard Peltier.
In the spirit of Crazy Horse…
For more information on how you can help, go to www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.