Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community

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Mendota Mdewakanton Newsletter


Leonard Peltier Getting Parole hearing, First Time In 15 Years RIGHT NOW! 7/28/09

Leonard Peltier to get first full parole hearing in 15 years


A hearing is set for this coming Tuesday in Lewisburg, Pa., where Peltier is incarcerated in a federal prison, according to this story.

Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He has claimed the FBI framed him, which the agency denies. His case has become a cause celebre among activists and celebrities.

A 1992 documentary film, “Incident at Oglala: The Leonard Peltier Story,” was produced and narrated by Robert Redford. Author Peter Matthiessen’s book, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” which came out that same year, also details the events surrounding Peltier’s case.

Imprisoned Native American Activist Leonard Peltier Parole Hearing
RIGHT NOW, today, Tuesday 28th, 2009!


Video tribute to Leonard Peltier Original music by Buggin Malone


Actor Peter Coyote, good friend of Peltier, urges people to write their congressional representatives on behalf of Leonard Peltier’s release.

As of this year, my good friend, Native American leader Leonard Peltier, has been imprisoned for 29 years for a murder that even the government has no idea if he committed or not. The Appeals Court judge that sentenced him wrote a letter to President Clinton asking for clemency, and informing the President that the case had many errors in it, but that his hands had been tied. Furthermore, he held the FBI equally culpable for the events that started a massive fire-fight on the Sioux reservation that resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents.

Leonard has been in prison longer than many people convicted of murder. He has been eligible for parole for many years and every appeal has been denied. Both his parents have died while he was incarcerated and he has survived two attempts on his life; had his jaw wired shut after botched surgery and is now suffering from old age. During the 1996 Democratic Convention I asked a Deputy in the Justice Department about Leonard and he told me, "When you first spoke to me, I thought you were crazy. I’m embarrassed to say that everything you told me was the truth. All I can say is that there are some very powerful people in Washington that do not want to see him leave prison alive."

Here are the facts of the case.

In 1973 the highest per capita murder rate in the country was the Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge. The head of Oglalla Sioux police force, a virtual dictator named Dick Wilson and his GOON Squad (Guardians of the Oglalla Nation) were systematically picking off everyone working for electoral reform on the reservation and traditional elders—more than 60 in that year alone. The situation got so bad, that the tribe’s elder women called the American Indian Movement (AIM) for help, and they arrived and set up an encampment, with women and children, schools and kitchens.

In this tense and murderous climate, on June 26, 1975, two FBI agents in unmarked cars followed a pick-up truck onto the Jumping Bull ranch supposedly to serve a warrant on a young boy who had stolen some cowboy boots. It also happened to be the same day that GOON Squad chief Dick Wilson was in Washington, illegally signing away the tribe’s uranium rights to multinational mining corporations. The families immediately became alarmed and feared an attack. Shots were heard and a shoot-out erupted. Tribal police had been readied as back-up outside the ranch, but when they heard the return fire, they abandoned the FBI men who were wounded, then eventually executed at close range. Everyone who was there insists that Leonard was minding the children and not even involved in the gun-fight. When they searched the bodies and found the Federal ID the Native leaders dispersed far and wide, correctly anticipating that the reservation would be over-run ‘y Federal forces. It was, and they shot it to pieces, instituting a week long reign of terror where elders were harassed and beaten, houses burned and shot up, and the native population terrorized.

Leonard was finally captured in Canada and brought to trial where he and his cohorts were freed by an all-white jury. The FBI was enraged and assembled a new case by fabricating evidence, suborning witnesses, breaking the chains of evidence, having witnesses perjure themselves—all errors cited by the Appeals judge who later petitioned on Leonard’s behalf, but despite numerous errors, Leonard was sentenced to life in prison.

His case was masterfully explained by author Peter Mathiessen in his book, The Spirit of Crazy Horse which was kept off bookstore and library shelves for eight years due to a suit brought by two FBI men who did not like the way they were portrayed. More than 16 million people around the world have signed petitions demanding his release. Amnesty International, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, the Robert F. Kennedy


Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among many others, have called Leonard a political prisoner who should be immediately released. Even the government finally admitted they had no idea of who had killed the agents. Native warrior has confessed to the crime, but refuses to turn himself in saying it was an act of war.

29 years later Leonard languishes in prison, a political prisoner, tarnishing the reputation of the legal system of our country; offering cheap propaganda to our enemies, and a reminder of the deep injustice any country is capable of committing when they abandon the rule of law, to seek a predetermined outcome. I have been Leonard’s friend since before he went to prison. I have never abandoned efforts to see him freed and I am asking anyone who hears or reads these remarks to learn something about the case by reading Peter Mathiessen’s book or going to If you do, you will certainly want to do something. You might begin with a call or hand-written letter to your congress-person. Thank you.


This story from

Love him or hate him, Think he should remain in custody or think he never should have been, Please leave your comments below: