Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
COLEMAN, FLORIDA Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who has been imprisoned for the past 36 years, turned 68 on Wednesday.
Happy Birthday Wishes from the Friendship House in Oakland, California
Peltier is serving a life sentence in the US Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida. He was accused of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was convicted in 1977.
Peltier is considered to be a political prisoner of war by many American Indians throughout the United States and others worldwide. Through the years, Peltier's supporters have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among other prominent names.
On his birthday Wednesday, he released the following statement, which the Native News Network received on Thursday:
An Ordinary Man Cast into
an Extraordinary Situation
Greetings my relatives and supporters, and we are all truly relatives in one way or another.
First of all I want to thank all of you for remembering me on this day, as many of you probably suspect and some know, that when you are in prison you have a lot of time to reflect and think on how things are, and how they were and perhaps how they should be.
Having said that, I was thinking about how on your birthday the person who really should be celebrated is your mother, for she carried you for 9 months and went through the pain of giving you life. So truly a person's birthday should be another Mother's Day. So if a woman has four children, she should have four Mothers days. All too often people talk about the exploits of men and what they said and what they did, and all too often give no thought to the women who gave them life, the women who supported them, the women who cared for the children while they did what they did, who kept the home fires burning and families fed. There is a certain adrenaline flow that takes place when you are involved in movement activities and trying to make a difference, a satisfaction in doing the right thing and sometimes being successful in righting what's wrong. However, the really true heroes in this are the women who do day after day what needs to be done, and give their children the values they need to stand up for what is right in this world.
Again, I want to thank you, you can't imagine how much it means to a prisoner to be remembered. When a person goes to prison their immediate family, relatives and friends are attentive on some level, but as time goes on, it's almost as if you had died and you are only remembered on certain occasions. There are a multitude of people in prison that they have forgotten about that were movement people, people who stood up for the earth, the animals, nature, water rights, human rights, civil rights, all of those things, and have been forgotten.
They are only remembered by a few.
I am really truly thankful and I have to be thankful to all of the movement people throughout the world who have recognized the injustice that has been perpetuated against Indigenous people. And I am fortunate that there are those who have found me to be evidence of that injustice because of all of the legal recognition from the courts of the improper proceedings that took place.
My case as many of you well know probably has more recognition of improprieties than most, and I recognize that I am an ordinary man who has been cast into an extraordinary situation, and have served as legal evidence of their wrongdoing.
Forgive me if I am getting too wordy and singing to the choir, but I have probably had too much time to think. I do want to encourage all of you to keep standing up for what is right to keep trying to right what is wrong, and I want you to know there are those who appreciate what you do, and oftentimes you may find yourself the only one standing up.
And more often than not, whether you realized it or not, it was your Mother that directly or indirectly gave you that strength, that woman you should celebrate on your birthday. I encourage all of you to have fun, enjoy your freedom, enjoy your life and have some cake and ice cream, or pemmican, or hotdogs or dog stew for me.
And remember when you stand up, wherever you are, I'll be standing with you even though it's some distant place.
In closing again I want you to enjoy and know that I am thinking of you and appreciative and may the Great Spirit Bless you with all you need and enough to share with others.
I'll close for now, got some thinking to do, Ayee.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
updated 10:10 am edt; posted September 14, 2012 9:20 am edt