September 12, 2015
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 breathe 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 age (smile). People can 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And get this… In October 1984, when the Parole Commission was repealed by Congress, the Commission was given 6 years to give me a parole date… all of us “old time” prisoners really (those convicted prior to 1984).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 The Parole Commission is the only Government agency that has been repealed and reinstated 35 days later without having to go through the normal congressional channels and signed into law by the President.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 a democracy?
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. Amazing, huh? Thankfully I 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…
In a recent phone interview with Frances Madeson, she’d asked Leonard about love, given that she’d been feeling it at the Santa Fe exhibition of his art. His answer **
““I have love for my people,” he says after a hearty laugh at the unorthodoxy of my approach. “For my family. I’ve done the best I could but my life has been all about incarceration. I’m proud of being a Native. I love the culture, the religion, I have always tried to be a loving parent. I show what love I can for them.
My love is expressed in my paintings for the whole Indian world, but especially the future generations. We are the caretakers, we have to make a world worthy of them. The love of my people is why I was at Jumping Bull that day — to protect them.
When I was growing up we were called Red Niggers, Prairie Niggers; we couldn’t enter through the main door; we couldn’t go into town from 6pm to 8am, we needed a pass in order to leave the res. Apartheid started here. We were living under an Apartheid system.
We still tried to love, but a lot of folks gave up, became dysfunctional. But some of us… we still hung on to our traditions.”
But when she’d asked him if his artwork made his incarceration more bearable, she reports with this self-effacing honesty:
‘I’m swallowed whole by his response, disappearing down a hole of my own vast ignorance.’
“IT IS NOT BEARABLE. EVERY MINUTE IS A TORTURE. It’s been pure hell for over 40 years. I hate every moment! I’m not used to it! I refuse to accept it!
My personality is not to be angry and violent, it’s not the way I was raised by my grandparents. But angry and violent, that’s the norm in Coleman. I know I am not guilty. We were the ones that were being terminated, discriminated against.”
The end-of-June clemency petitions, letters and calls didn’t seem to have the desired result (although Obama did commute the sentences of 46 other federal prisoners), but this call is dated July 26. Dunno quite what Ms. Eyes-Clifford means by Obama and the First Lady having shown interest in helping them, but it’s very polite, nonetheless.
“Doing time creates a demented darkness of my own imagination…
Doing time does this thing to you. But of course you don’t do time.
You do without it. Or rather, time does you.
Time is a cannibal that devours the flesh of yours
day by day, night by night.”
~ Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sundance
Here is a page about the various ways you can petition POUTUS.