Letter from Leonard Peltier
25th Year Reunion of Incident At Oglala
June 26, 2000
Greetings Friends and Supporters,
But I am not out, I remain locked up in here, and it has not been an easy 24 years. Prison is a repulsive, violent place to exist in. But again, none of this could stop me from standing with you until the great Oglala Nation is free. I know a lot of problems continue to exist for you. Corrupt tribal government officials are still taking advantage of the people and crimes committed against Natives receive little if no priority. It makes me very sad to know that after everything we went through in the 1970’s our people still continue to suffer so much. The memory of all of those who lost their lives during that time also continues to haunt me.
But please don’t understand my frustation for a lack of sympathy about the loss of the agents’ lives. I do feel for the families of the agents because I know first hand what it is like to lose a loved one. I have lost many loved ones through the years due to senseless violent acts. If I had known what was going on that day, and I could have stopped it, I would have.
But in order for us to bring reconciliation to what was a very difficult time we first must have justice. We must continue to ask when the lives of our people will be given the same respect and value as others. When will they stop carelessly locking up our people without applying the scrutiny and care the judicial system is supposed to guarantee? When will guilty beyond a reasonable doubt become a standard that applies to us? When will our guilt have to be proven, rather than assumed? We suffer equally, but we are not treated equally. There is hope for a better future and for peace. But in order for us to live in peace, we must be able to live in dignity and without fear.
In closing, I want to say that your voices are important and your involvement in the effort to gain my freedom is crucial. You know the truth and only you can express the reality of those brutal times. It is also important that you explain to the youth what we stood for and why, because they are our hope for the future. They can carry out our dream for our people to have pride in their culture, good schools, food, and health care, and most importantly, justice. Please know that I continue to be here for you too, although I am limited in what I can do from behind these walls. However, I will continue to help in whatever I can from here. The one thing my situation has brought me at least, is a voice, and my voice is your voice. So please do not hesitate to write me or contact the LPDC to inform me of what is going on.
I am growing older now and my body is beginning to deteriorate. I sometimes wonder just how much longer I will be with you all on Mother Earth. I hope that it’ll be a while longer because I long to be with you, my family and friends, to share some time together. If not, and I don’t make it home to you, I will always be with you in spirit, at every Sun Dance and Inipi Ceremony, remembering both the happy and the painful times we shared.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,