Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner in the United States. He speaks below about his incarceration, but the context of his arrest is the 1970s American Indian Movement to illuminate the history of abuse and to demand human rights for the indigenous peoples of this continent.
Leonard Peltier, Statement February 6, 2018
Greetings Family, Friends and Supporters
I am overwhelmed that today Feb 6th is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love & respect you have given me.
But the truth is I am tired and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm, that could burst at any time, my prostate and arthritis in my hip and knees. I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I’ve been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me. This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight. A fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.
I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, the former Prosecuting Attorney, Lynn Crooks, said to Judge Heaney. “Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don’t know what participation if any, Mr. Peltier had in it”. That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my Freedom. I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!
Right now I need my supporters here in the US and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate released based on my poor health and age. Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!
There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!
I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73 I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60+ years behind bars.
I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.
I remain strong only because of your support, through prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
If you would like a paper petition please email WhoIsLeonardPeltier(dot)info
Leonard Peltier was arrested in 1976 and convicted in 1977 for the deaths of 2 FBI agents killed in a a shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. He was convicted because he was there, though a few other members of the AIM, dozens of Tribal GOONS and a large number of FBI agents were also involved. The shootout resulted from a setup by the FBI, which was determined to put an end to the American Indian Movement. Leonard has been in Federal Prison for over 40 years. The evidence against him has not stood the test of time and he has consistently asserted his innocence.