MNN. Mar. 2, 2013.  Why is Leonard Peltier still in jail, since 1977? He is a 68-year old Lakota prisoner of war. We need to help get him out.  

Peltier, a former member of American Indian Movement AIM, is the longest incarcerated person in the US. He is in Coleman Prison Florida. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the killing of 2 FBI agents in 1975. Life sentence is 7 years. He got more than 5 life sentences, violating US laws. 

Spirit stayed strong cause he did not do it.

Strong spirited because he did not do it.

Native Elders, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Peter Coyote and others held a concert in New York City in 2012, to give President Obama a message to, as Peltier said,  “Turn me loose”. 

Says Peltier, “I never got a fair trial, international laws were violated, racists sat on the jury, I had no defence, evidence was manufactured and witnesses were tortured”. The weapon tests showed negative. Judge Haney said, “There is no evidence of first degree murder. No one knows who killed the agents or what he had to do with it. But somebody has to pay for this.” 

He wants release or house arrest as he needs medical attention for a number of ailments, “I am willing to wear an ankle bracelet”. 

Peltier continued the message.

AIM continues.

At the time, murders were committed on Pine Ridge, financed by the government, with intelligence, armored piercing ammunition and sophisticated weaponry. Violence began when US agents  arrived carrying guns and started shooting. All the deaths were needless. Congressman Tim Johnson of North Dakota has promised to investigate this. 

Peltier symbolizes that US society is held together by force. We cannot be free if we are being threatened with violence, such as fines, jails, confiscation of possessions or denial of rights, due process and death. 

International law was violated when they failed to recognize his nation and its jurisdiction. He was denied a hearing before an impartial third party and was tried by one of the parties to the dispute, the US justice system. Peltier was imprisoned for defending the families and people. “I stood up for my people to stop the Termination Act. I did nothing, let alone kill somebody.”  

A fundamental principle of survival is that anyone who is attacked has a right to defend themselves. Good decent people of the international community need to stand with us. We will all be stronger if we respect each other’s autonomy. As Bon Scott sang in gone shooting: “Feel the pressure rise. Hear the whistle blow. Never said bye-bye. All the cryin’ eyes.” 

Spirit soaring!


MNN Mohawk Nation News kahentinetha2@yahoo.com  For more news, books, workshops, to donate and sign up for MNN newsletters, go to www.mohawknationnews.com  More stories at MNN Archives.  Address:  Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0



“No More Leonard Peltiers”


MNN. Dec. 4, 2004. On November 23rd 1999 I spoke in Washington DC in front of the White House during “Leonard Peltier Month”. There were heavily armed guards strutting around on top of the building keeping an eye on us.

What is solved by keeping Leonard Peltier in jail? Who is being protected? Is it the people who go into Indian territories and shoot at us? We get into trouble when we defend ourselves. If they stopped coming in uninvited, it would go a long way towards stopping these conflicts. North America is a history of illegal colonial encroachment onto native constitutional jurisdiction. Indigenous nations never validly gave up sovereignty or surrendered any land.

What do they want from us? Our lives! They need to subdue our sovereignty and constitutional jurisdiction. Completely wiping out Indians would validate their false claim to our land. Leonard Peltier represents the independent indigenous spirit. He is a prisoner of war.

We have the same gripes today we had back in 1975, when Leonard Peltier was put in jail. Since then, the International Court of Justice has upheld self-determination for Namibia in Africa. Yet they continue to violate the equal constitution-to-constitution relationship worked out between indigenous nations and the settlers. We could use some understanding and support from the international community. If the rule of law deems that all humans are equal, why are we being abused?

Equality is not an American idea. It’s ours.

On December 2nd 1987 the United States affirmed that the Iroquois Constitution, the Kaianereh’ko:wa/Great Law of Peace, influenced the United States Constitution. This in turn influenced modern international law and the United Nations. The whole world has benefited from our philosophy.

To improve the understanding of modern international law, the Kaianereh’ko:wa’s messages of peace should be carefully studied. It reflects reality. The opening thanksgiving that we say before any meeting or event reminds us of the interdependent system of relations of all elements of the natural world, which are equal. The people are the foundation of governance. Our law shows us how to be directed by the inner core of our knowledge system and traditions. We arrive at an understanding of our universe through our own search and experience.

Society or friendship cannot be held together by force. Certainly not when some are forced to be under the control of others. A man can’t get true love from a woman by force. There have been wonderful strong relationships when they treated each other well.

Kaianereh’ko:wa is against the use of force. How can we be a free and democratic society if we are being forced to behave in a certain way by threats of violence, such as fines, jails, confiscation of possessions or denial of rights. Keeping Leonard Peltier in prison symbolizes North American society’s use of force as a means of maintaining control. Behind the enforcement of their “democracy” is the gun.

Leonard Peltier was supposed to have killed two FBI agents. There is doubt about this. A chronic perception in North America is that native people are lawbreakers. The dominant group is imposing foreign laws on us. It’s illegal. We resist. Colonial North America is a history of genocide and encroachment on our jurisdiction. If North Americans would respect each other’s space and allow us our jurisdiction, we could form bonds of brotherhood. All would be stronger. One dominating the other is a symptom of a weak society.

Remember how the violence at Pine Ridge began in the first place. The U.S. encroached on native jurisdiction. The agents of the American government arrived on Pine Ridge carrying guns. A fundamental principle of survival is that anyone who is attacked has a right to defend themselves. Those FBI didn’t need to go there. Peltier was on his native territory. There was no reason for the deaths to occur.

Canada and the United States violated international law by refusing to recognize Leonard Peltier’s nation and jurisdiction. He was denied a hearing before an impartial third party. He was tried by one of the parties to the dispute, the United States justice system. They were the judge, jury and executioner, violating the rule of law. There was no neutrality.

Had the newcomers obeyed their agreements with us to live peacefully nation-to-nation, they would not have to waste all their time and tax money. They misspend it on keeping Peltier and other in jails, buying guns and ammunition and risking their lives to keep people under control.

As an Indigenous woman of the Rotinoshon’non:we, we want the U.S. and Canada to stop to attacking our men who are defending our families, people and possessions. The newcomers should be man enough to support their own families without making a huge industry out of hurting us? When are good decent people worldwide going to defend us from being overwhelmed by colonists? When will the international community stop the punishment and killing of our warriors?

We should be talking and working together, otherwise racism will continue. We must get Leonard Peltier out of prison.

Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

poster: Thahoketoteh