In the dark and bloody year 1975, peace had come
to Vietnam but not to the the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation
in South Dakota. Murders, assassinations, assaults, and extortion were the rule.
Warriors of the American Indian Movement faced off with the GOONS (Guardians of the Oglala Nation),
the armed force of tribal chief Dick Wilson. Some of these men were
armed by William Janklow, then Attorney General, now Governor of South Dakota(See:
Peter Matthiesson, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse). The FBI was called in. Tensions rose.
A siege followed at a place called Wounded Knee. There was also death at the
Jumping Bull Place.
At the Jumping Bull Place, two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ron Williams,
were killed in a shootout. Three men were charged in the deaths of Agents Coler
and Williams: Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, and Leonard Peltier. Both Butler
and Robideau were subsequently found to be not guilty. A different court found Peltier to be guilty.
He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
"I didn't kill the agents," Peltier says. "I didn't order anyone to kill those agents. I am an innocent man.
I am an innocent man."
Peltier is now more than fifty years old. Home to him is his cell in the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas,
where 150 years earlier, another Indian warrior, Spotted Tail of the Lakota, was also a prisoner. Later Leonard Crow Dog would
have his turn at Leavenworth as well. Peltier
paints beautiful pictures in a native style which are highly valued. He also dreams of freedom.
This yearning is easily visible in Peltier's beautiful paintings.
Leonard Peltier hopes that
someday, like Nelson Mandela, like "Geronimo" Pratt, he too will be released.
The Tribute Links
The following links are poems, prose, &etc, by Native Americans
and their supporters in honor of Leonard Peltier.
Just click here to email
. Ask him to grant executive clemency and pardon Leonard. Also
ask him to consider commuting Leonard's sentence to "time served" if he will not pardon him outright.
Leonard is now over fifty years old and has been in our worst federal prisons (including Marion and Leavenworth)
for 21 years now. While this innocent man is in prison, none of
us is truly free!