A message from Leonard Peltier on the Occasion of his 71st Birthday

peltier self portrait

September 12, 2015

Greetings everyone,

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And get this… In October 1984, when the Parole Commission was repealed by Congress, the Commission was given 6 years to give me a parole date… all of us “old time” prisoners really (those convicted prior to 1984).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 The Parole Commission is the only Government agency that has been repealed and reinstated 35 days later without having to go through the normal congressional channels and signed into law by the President.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…


Leonard Peltier


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.

13 responses to “A message from Leonard Peltier on the Occasion of his 71st Birthday

  1. The release of Leonard Peltier is one of the acts that will demonstrate compassion and integrity as we shake off this disappointing (and that’s putting it mildly) eight years of stagnation and worse. Maybe it won’t happen – the grip of the old regime will be last felt in this country as it loosens elsewhere.

    Mr. Peltier is not alone in his suffering. I just read through the interview with President Assad of Syria. Here’s an extract:

    “. . . Today, Europe is trying to say that Europe feels guilty because it hasn’t given money or hasn’t allowed these people to immigrate legally, and that’s why they came across the sea and drowned. We are sad for every innocent victim, but is the victim who drowns in the sea dearer to us than the victim killed in Syria? Are they dearer than innocent people whose heads are cut off by terrorists? Can you feel sad for a child’s death in the sea and not for thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria? And also for men, women, and the elderly? These European double standards are no longer acceptable. They have been flagrantly exposed. It doesn’t make sense to feel sad for the death of certain people and not for deaths of others. The principles are the same. So Europe is responsible because it supported terrorism, as I said a short while ago, and is still supporting terrorism and providing cover for them. It still calls them ‘moderate’ and categorizes them into groups, even though all these groups in Syria are extremists. . .”

    I looked at the flushed, distressed face of Assad, and then read Peltier’s outcry. Two men in anguish over the cruel policies presently being enforced at home and abroad. It is not a proud time for this country.

    • it’s hard for me to imagine that obama will answer the international cries to commute his sentence. above all, he seems to be a pragmatic chicken shit domestically, and will already have read of the fbi’s many dissenters who weighed in when clinton had allegedly been considering letting him out. he wouldn’t want the fbi pissed at him, or by extension his family, once he leaves the white house. secret service proctetion is ATF, but birds of a feather…and all that.

      interesting comments from assad, but it’s hard for me to get to feel too sorry for the man. but yes, the west’s support and arming of those ‘chosen terrorists’ during r2p libya traveling then to syria and back to iraq to wreak havoc was massively stupid and short-sighted: or was it?

      in any event, i can’t find it again at the guardian, but i did remember i’d seen it again when i’d peeked into trnn earlier. ‘‘The Guardian Reveals the West Ignored Russian Offer to Depose Assad in 2012; Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis says the United States has a moral responsibility to address the Syrian refugee crisis after The Guardian UK reveals Russia offered to help depose Assad three years ago’


      who can say if it had worked, and what may have been different by now?

  2. I meant to say I read the interview at rt.com.

  3. I went hunting at the Guardian for any statement from Putin to that affect as I hardly doubted he would suggest ‘offering to help depose’ Assad. This is all I could find, from that last G8 meeting in 2013:

    “The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is willing to see the removal of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, but only if it leads to a balanced government and not a dangerous power vacuum of the kind that followed Saddam Hussein’s removal in Iraq, British officials believe after two days of intensive talks at the G8 summit.

    Putin blocked any reference in the subsequent communique to the removal of Assad, but British officials believe the talks have opened the way for a peace settlement if more can be done to organise the Syrian opposition forces politically and militarily.”

    What you’ve got there is “British officials believe” and not any such statement as suggested by the lady at RT. Indeed, that summit could have claimed anything bent as it was on humiliating Putin, so I wouldn’t put any credence in her claim.

    Current Cross Talk is a really good one – and no, I wasn’t putting Assad in the class of Peltier as far as suffering goes. I do not know either man. I was looking at the suffering of his people and that if he is not there a terrible power vacuum will ensue that will increase that suffering. It was good to see that Putin back at the G8 had the same concern.

    • Woops, should have been ‘highly doubted’, not ‘hardly’, sorry.

    • bennis wasn’t slurring putin; her point was that the West ignored what could have been a major diplomatic solution. and she never assumed that putin was even part of the three-point plan. the headline was a bit misleading, though.BENNIS: Yeah, it raises of course the inevitable question of why did he wait so long before going public. What Martti Ahtisaari says is that in a private conversation with the Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin this proposal was made, a three part proposal of what should happen. One, to not arm the opposition. Two, to start a dialog between the opposition and President Assad. And third, what he called finding an elegant way for Assad to step aside.

      That doesn’t mean that Assad was prepared at that moment, or that Russia for that matter was prepared to push Assad to step down immediately. But it does mean that there were options available. There were possibilities that could and clearly should have been investigated about what kind of a process could have been underway that would have allowed some kind of face saving for Assad. Maybe others in his regime would have participated rather than the president himself. There could have been a number of possibilities. And what was clear was that the French, the British, and particularly the United States, apparently as far as Ahtisaari knew, they were so convinced that the Assad regime was about to collapse that there was no need to negotiate like this. They would just wait for the regime to collapse and preside over the glorious victory.”

      ‘options available’ back-channels, i’d say.

  4. Here’s the Saker commentary on Assad’s recent interview:


    • well, yes; assad has changed, it seems. but am i misremembering that during the initial grassroots insurrection he bombed his own people, as a commenter mentioned on one MOA thread? no, not the sarin gas charges, but bombing nonetheless?

      in any event, any parallels with leonard peltier seem amiss to me. he was at Jumping bull ranch that day in order to protect his people. his incarceration and virtual crucifixion by COINTELPRO black and indian fear might be more relevantly compared to the original ‘broad-based, non-sectarian, democratic anti-despot national movement’ (as peter lee called in 2011).

      yes, ‘he makes more sense’, as does putin’s willingness to meet with john kerry to try to end this hideous (from the initial failure on) proxy war that with the west…than obama and the many public figures of note (including presidential candidates) who want to keep bombing until he leaves…and ISIL takes over or something.

      but i think the saker breezes by a lot of history, afaik.

  5. All I know is there were elections and 80 percent voted for Assad. But thanks, wendye. I finally found a link to the original Guardian article, and it is as you say, though Churkin claimed it was a ‘private conversation.’ Plus, a Brit negotiator, Jenkins emailed: “The weakest point is Ahtisaari’s claim that Churkin was speaking with Moscow’s authority. I think if he had told me what Churkin had said, I would have replied I wanted to hear it from Putin too before I would take it seriously. . .” And plus, above all, I don’t trust the Guardian any longer. And fast losing trust in RT.

    Peltier and Assad have in common that they are both being forced to suffer by the same agency. That they suffer for different reasons and contrast by the one being a personal suffering and the other a witness to the suffering of his people was part of what I saw. I don’t judge either of them, nor do I know which one is the better man.

    • as i mused over your comment, again i’d have to say that yes, it was a private conversation. isn’t that what back-channel communications are usually designed to be, as they give a leader plausible deniability when needed? either ignored, plans go south, etc.? in this case, if the West ignored it as unnecessary (regime fail soon), or because syria was on the neo-con regime change hit list by war, who can say?

      Jenkins email was of course butt-covering, as he would know how those communications work.

      but as to trusting news organizations, it’s hard to trust any; we seem to go with confirmation bias, as some do vis a vis the saker, say. but given that they printed the churkin claim, moving away a bit from being ‘scribes to the west’, made it more believable. i felt the same when one fairly recent piece narrated that a second maidan in kyiv seemed to be afoot…authored by the right sector neo-nazis. the piece *may have* also reported on proshenko’s failure to keep his minsk II agreement over adding some autonomy for the donbass area, which in most msm would have amounted to heresy.

  6. As with Peltier, it really does depend on who you choose to believe. We were told left, right, and center that Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait involved dragging babies out of incubators. Khaddafi was bombing his people too, they said. By now we really ought to have learned better than to believe what we are told.


    • may i lol a little bit? ;-)

      “Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa.”
      Though denying ordering the killing himself, the Syrian President conceded that some members of his armed forces had gone too far, but said they had been punished.

      “Every ‘brute reaction’ was by an individual, not an institution, that’s what you have to know,” he told ABC’s Barbara Walters.
      “There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials,” he said.
      “There was no command to kill or be brutal.”

      Assad added that security forces belonged to “the government” and not him personally.
      “I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country. So they are not my forces,” he said

  7. Yes, wendye – but remember that Assad replaced his father who was indeed a Saudi style absolute ruler. The son had been an eye doctor, for crying out loud. What he was saying to Walters back then was that indeed he did not at first have complete control – he was a newbie trying to establish himself (not that I know much about Syrian politics but I can guess there were indeed swirling power centers as he came in.)

    This is the history both you and Saker refer to, and as Saker says in his piece, he was of the same mind as you and as I about the cruel practises, including rendition, that Syria has been part of. But as Saker points out, Assad did apparently work to consolidate power in a different way. That was then; this is now.

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