Magazine article Monthly Review

Letter to Leonard Peltier

Magazine article Monthly Review

Letter to Leonard Peltier

Article excerpt

In 1975, Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murder of two government agents after a violent confrontation on the Oglala reservation that pitted the American Indian Movement (AIM) and local Sioux against law enforcement officers. Two other MM members were acquitted in a separate trial, but Peltier received two consecutive life sentences. The trial is the subject of the documentary film Incident at Oglala (1975). February 6,2000, marks Peltier's twenty-fourth year in prison. Information about his case can be found at, or by contacting the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA. The following letter was first published on the Internet by the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico (NCDM), based in Austin, TX.


Through NCDM and Cecilia Rodriguez we extend greetings from the men, women, children, and elders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Cecilia has told us about the grave injustice the North American judicial system has committed against you. We understand that the powerful are punishing your spirit of rebellion and your strong fight for the rights of indigenous people in North America.

Stupid as it is, the powerful believe that through humiliation, arrogance, and isolation, they can break the dignity of those who give thoughts, feelings, life and guidance to the struggle for recognition and respect for the first inhabitants of the land, over whom the vain United States has risen. The heroic resistance that you have maintained in prison, as well as the broad movement of solidarity that your case and your cause have motivated in the United States and the world, reveal their mistake.

Knowing of your existence and history, no woman or man (if they are honest and conscious) can remain silent before such a great injustice. Nor can they remain still in front of a struggle which, like all that is born and grows from below, is necessary, possible, and true.

The Lakota, a people who have the honor and fortune to have you among their blood, have an ethic that recognizes and respects the place of all people and things, respects the relations that mother earth has with herself and other living things that live and die within her and outside of her. An ethic that recognizes generosity as a measure of human worth, the walk of our ancestors and our dead along the paths of today and tomorrow, women and men as part of the universe that have the power of free will to choose paths and seasons, the search for harmony and the struggle against that which breaks and disorders it. All of this, and more that escapes because we are so far away, has a lot to teach the "western" culture which steers, in North America and in the rest of the world, against humanity and against nature.

Probably the determined resistance of Leonard Peltier is incomprehensible to the powerful in North America, and the world. To never give up, to resist, the powerful call this "foolishness."

But the foolish are in every corner of the world, and in all of them, resistance flourishes in the fertile ground of the most ancient history.

In sum, what the powerful fail to understand is not only Peltier's resistance, but also the entire world, and so they intend to mold the planet into the coffin the system represents, with wars, jails, and police officers.

Probably, the powerful in North America think that in jailing and torturing Leonard Peltier, they are jailing and torturing one man.

And so they don't understand how a prisoner can continue to be free, while in prison. …

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