Used by permission of author, Harvey Arden.
Have You Thought ...
Have You Thought of Leonard Peltier Lately ?
By: Harvey Arden (used by permission of author.)
An Excerpt by LEONARD PELTIER ...
…I’M STILL HERE. I am all at once saddened, exhilarated, angry, proud, defiant, and puzzled by that fact. Here in prison, after 28 years of unjust incarceration, I am a living example of the injustice, racism, fear, and inequity that still exists in some parts of the United States of America. This is particularly true when it comes to America's views and actions towards Indian people. Residing in the best hopes of all of us is the dream that America has moved away from the days of hostility towards the Indigenous people of this land. And yet, we are shown with daily regularity, a reality that defies this dream. A reality that American Indians are incarcerated at a disproportionately high rate. A reality that American Indians are denied decent health care, housing, and education.
A reality so dire, that recently the United States Civil Rights Commission has had to address it, calling it "A Quiet Crisis".
I’M STILL HERE. Events surrounding my case over the last few years have been so fascinating, as to have created an excellent mystery thriller novel. Replete with intrigue, suspicion, manipulation, falsehoods, secret meetings, intimidation, implications, sexual innuendo, and higher aspirations--all in the name of justice, I cannot help but think of what a great movie this would also have made. Maybe one day it still will, time will tell. Suffice to say, my case and all it constitutes will continue to impact the history of this country, and its relations with Native Americans, for generations to come. So far, my story continues to be one of an innocent man, railroaded in a rage of fear and vengeance disguised as justice.
I’M STILL HERE. And for as long as I am, my friends and associates at the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee continue to raise awareness, fund-raise, and coordinate campaigns on my behalf, so that America and the world does not forget about me and my case. Where would I be without friends like Harvey Arden, Arthur Miller, Peter Mattheissen, Andrea Hornbein, David Hill, and so many others I do not have the time or room to name, but have been so crucial in continuing this crusade for Justice? I cannot say for sure, but I imagine I would be much closer to being another faceless person denied of justice, whose identity was forgotten as time went by. It has been a series of small miracles created by a synergy of outstanding individuals. I am so thankful, and you all should be so proud of what you have accomplished.
I’M STILL HERE. And yet, I like to dream or focus on what I would do if and when I win my release. It goes without saying that being with family and loved ones would be a central part of my life for some period of time.
And having been away from the daily experiences of this country, perhaps traveling and seeing the developments 28 years can bring would be something I would enjoy. Once acclimated, I do have plans for the future, particularly concerning the ongoing role of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Some might think that upon my release, the LPDC's job would be finished. This is not so. In fact, it will merely be a new starting point.
There is no doubt a need for an organization that focuses on the incarceration of American Indians, especially those in jail for political reasons. Surely you didn't think I was the only American Indian political prisoner, did you? This country and the world needs to be made more aware of Indians defying the American government, in accordance with treaty and other laws, and being locked away for it. We need to raise awareness, and secure the release of these brothers and sisters. Further, we would become a bona fide Human Rights organization, linking with other like-minded organizations and individuals, networking and strategizing to create coordinated campaigns on a national and international level. Perhaps we could even help to create world-wide Indigenous initiatives to address colonization, globalization, and the terror they inflict on tribal people around the world.
I’M STILL HERE. I would hope this would resonate in the minds and hearts of every peace-loving person with an abiding sense of justice in their consciousness, throughout the world. It has been said by greater men than me, that as long as any man or woman is in bondage, none of us are free.
I have come to understand those words with a clarity I cannot describe. As long as Indian people are held captive to a colonizing and exploiting foreign power, none of us are free. As long as corporate entities have all the rights and privileges of a human being, without the responsibilities and accountability of a human being, none of us are free. As long as anyone is in prison for political reasons, none of us are free. As long as people cannot speak, assemble, or worship freely, none of us are free.
As long as injustice and inequity exists, none of us are free. My name is Leonard Peltier, but I draw breath as the living embodiment of a greater cause than just one man's freedom. Every nation must include as a part of its very fiber and rationalization, a constant demand and vigilance for justice. More than anything, I desire this. I pray for peace and justice.
One cannot truly exist without the other.
I’M STILL HERE. Now what are we going to do about it?
Have You Thought
or, write to Leonard .
Leonard Peltier #89637-132
P.0. Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837