September 12, 2015
On June 26, 2015 two FBI agents sped on to
Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in
an unmarked car and initiated a shoot-out
with American Indian Movement (AIM)
When it was over, the two FBI agents, and
one Native activist, Joe Stuntz, were killed.
While there was never any investigation into
the death of Stuntz, the FBI began the biggest
‘manhunt’ in US history to capture the AIM
members who were involved in the firefight.
Two AIM activists stood trial and were found
‘not guilty’ for reasons of self-defense. The FBI
then put its focus on Leonard Peltier, who had
fled to Canada to avoid the racist US justice
system. Using manufactured evidence, the FBI
had Leonard extradited from Canada to stand
trial for the deaths of the agents. Despite the fact
that there was never any reasonable evidence
presented in the trial that linked Leonard to
the deaths of the agents, and that the prosecutor
conceded that "We do not know who killed the
agents," in 1977 he was convicted of the two
murders and sentenced to two consecutive life
Leonard’s real crime was standing up against
the US government for Indigenous people.
Today, he is 71 years old and continues to be
a symbol of US injustice, but also Native pride
and unwavering courage. He has continued to
write and speak out from behind prison bars,
and is recognized throughout the world for his
life-long struggle for human rights.
The following is a letter written by Leonard on
his 71st Birthday.
For more information on Leonard’s case, visit:
Well, today is another b-day for me — my
71st. I had hoped I would not be here at this
age, but that’s not to be. So, I have to take
a deep breath and slowly let it out... and
prepare myself for yet another day in here.
February 6th marks my 40th year in prison.
How many of you know that when I was
indicted a life sentence was 7 years? I was
sentenced to 2 life sentences, so with good
time I have served 6 + life sentences. I
suppose all of this time has taken its toll on
my body. I have a number of different health
issues that come with old age. The one I’m
most concerned about is my prostate.
Otherwise, I’m still getting compliments on
how good I
look for my
be nice and say
things that make
me feel good once
in awhile. But I’m told this so often that I’m
starting to believe it (smile).
Hey, did you know that the last time I went
before the parole commission (2009), I was
denied because I looked young and healthy...
and a reason given for denying me parole was
that I might be too much of an influence on the
young natives? yeah, only in america.
And get this: In October 1984, when
the Parole Commission was repealed by
Congress, the Commission was given six
years to give me a parole date... all of us “old
time” prisoners really (those convicted prior
to 1984). Yes, this is all true. All you have
to do is research it, and I bet you will come
away shocked as hell that this can happen
in your country. The Parole Commission
is the only Government agency that has
been repealed and reinstated 35 days later
without having to go through the normal
congressional channels and signed into law
by the President. How does this happen in
I’ve been encouraged by things I’ve read
recently though. And looking back... It’s
been over 60 years, maybe a little longer. I
was around 7 or 8 years old when I heard
the old People talking about taking care of
Mother Earth. But for me anyway, as with
all young People, I did not really understand
what they were trying to tell us, I guess? But
I see today the traditionalists were correct
and AIM People were right when we took
it up as a rallying cry to the world. Still,
when we spoke out against the destruction
of Mother Earth, we were called a bunch
of nuts. Well, today, it is called climate
change, and there are now millions of us
crying out against
the destruction of
our Mother Earth.
have lived this
long and can
see we just might
win this war.
I know it’s not over — far from it — but
the world is waking up and talking about it
now. So, it can be won in our lifetime.
Well, People, I don’t know how much
longer I have left on Mother Earth — or if
I will even be around for the next few years
— but I always hope and pray that I can be
out there to spend my last few remaining
years with you. If not, so be it. I have been
in here too long to cry now. I just wish for
more time to give to my People and to all
freedom loving People in the world.
Thanks again for all of the love you have
shown me over these 40 years. You have all
been worth it.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse...