Letter from Leonard Peltier on the 40th Anniversary of the Incident at Oglala
June 26, 2015
June 26, 2015
marks 40 years
day when two FBI
on to Pine Ridge Reservation in South
Dakota in an unmarked car and initiated
a shoot-out with the American Indian
Movement (AIM) activists.
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 terms.
Leonard’s real crime was standing up against
the US government for Indigenous people.
Today, he is 70 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.
On the 40th anniversary of what has become
known as the “Incident at Oglala”, Leonard
once again wrote an important message to his
supporters encouraging them to continue the
struggle for justice and self-determination.
For more information on Leonard’s case,
LETTER FROM LEONARD PELTIER
26 June 2015
Greetings to you, my relatives and
This is the first time that my dear sister
Roselyn will not be there for me, but
I know she is there in spirit as she has
gone on her journey. I have seen pictures
of the gathering over the years and can
still see her sitting there under the trees
with our relatives... I will always miss
her and be grateful to her for all she did
for me and for our people.
This year I am most concerned with
our children and the taking of their
own lives. This is very sad to me, as it
is to you, and I know there are many
reasons for them to feel such despair
and hopelessness. But I can only ask
and encourage all of us to double our
efforts to show them love and support,
and let them know that we will always
look after them and protect them. That
includes asking big brothers and sisters
to look after the younger ones. They are
our future and have to be protected and
to learn to be the protectors. This is not
something we can live with, we need to
all work to change this.
And this year it is even more urgent
that we come together to protect our
sovereignty. There are so many issues
to face and fight. We continue to fight
for our Black Hills and to stop the XL
pipeline from poisoning our water and
our land, and I stand with the Lakota,
Dakota and Nakota Nations, and all
people of like mind in this fight.
The destruction of our Mother Earth
by the heavy and toxic Tar Sands oil,
fracking, gas and oil drilling and uranium
mining is unacceptable to me and to us.
We are supposed to be protecting these
things even as others try to push us aside.
I honor all of our relatives who are on
the front lines of this fight.
And after all that I have seen in these
40 years behind bars, I was still shocked
to see what they are trying to do to the
Apache people at Oak Flats. This cannot
be tolerated. It is not only a blatant
money grab at the expense of a tribe’s
Sacred site, but it is an effort to push
us back in the direction of termination
by ignoring our rights as sovereign
nations. This we will not tolerate.
Nothing is sacred to these people and
they will continue to try to bulldoze us
out of the way without even a single
thought to our coming generations if
we do not continue to stand up and
oppose them. We must be ready for
anything or we will lose all that we
have gained in the last 40 years.
The continued use of racist mascots is
something that we can never accept
as Indigenous peoples and we need to
all continue to push to end that racist
As for me, time is something I have
learned a lot about in these years in
prison. And now I can see that time
is slipping away from me and I know
that if I do not get out under this
President I will almost certainly die
here in prison.
I have been able to survive with the
hope you have given to me and your
prayers and I am grateful for that
support from all of you.
I continue to pray for the family of my
brother Joe Stuntz and for all those
who paid such a dear price in those
bitter times 40 years ago.
And I pray for the families of all our
people who have suffered so much and
continue to suffer now.
I thank all of you for coming today
and I know how hot it can be there.
And especially to all the runners and
walkers I offer my gratitude.
I send my Love to the people of the
Lakota Nations and to all Native
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse...
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