The following was former Miss Navajo and Grammy-nominated singer Radmilla Cody’s statement at the “International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier” event in Albuquerque, NM, Feb. 6, 2016
Peltier has been illegally incarcerated for 40 years and is currently experiencing life threating health issues. It’s time for Peltier to return home and be with his family. For more information: whoisleonardpeltier.info.
by Radmilla Cody
Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner, a Native man railroaded by the so-called justice system of the United States; that is an undeniable and unequivocal fact. Peltier is also viewed by many as a symbol of indigenous resistance due to his affiliation with the American Indian Movement.
Not too many people know that AIM [the American Indian Movement] was formed in 1968 to address the brutality Native people were subjected to in Minneapolis, an occupied bordertown much like Albuquerque. The AIM song itself was created to commemorate a Native man who was murdered in a border town.
Forty-six years later, Native people are still brutalized by border town violence, such as the murders of Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson, two Navajo men, here in Albuquerque a year and a half ago. Much like AIM, Native people have once again risen to challenge such brutality and advocate justice for our dear relatives in occupied territories. It was the murders of Thompson and Gorman that prompted my partner and I to analyze and address the violence and humiliation Native people face in border towns surrounding Diné Bikeyah / Navajo territory. Through this process of resistance we learned of other organizations who are on the same path of righteousness, such as The Red Nation here in Albuquerque, who not only provide critical research but organize direct and meaningful actions to disrupt and dismantle settler institutions and ideals.
There is also the Immediate Action Group of Gallup, NM who clothe and feed our unsheltered relatives on the streets. IAG’s ultimate goal is to prevent the unatural deaths of Native people in Gallup, a city that thrives on the exploitation of Native lands, lives, and intelligence.
It is with the help of these organizations and many others that Native people are still a vibrant and resilient people despite over 500 years of manifest destiny.
The justice system in the so-called United States is also built to ensure white male domination over people of color, especially Native women.
Native women are the fastest growing prison population, a disproportionate number of which make up over 6% of the total population of incarcerated women.
Keeping Native women incarcerated ensures settler dominance over native societies because Native women are vital to our power, our ceremonies, and our lifeways. Native women protect and nurture the future of all indigenous societies.
Incarcerated Native women are also a reflection of how much harder we must love and support one another.
We already have a strong system of compassion through our kinship, our relationships with each other, the land, and all creation. We don’t need to outsource our compassion to an inhuman structure.
It is through my teachings of how to live as a Diné Asdzaa/Navajo woman, that I demand justice and clemency for the illegally incarcerated Leonard Peltier.