Special to the Native News Network in Native Challenges. Discussion »
COLEMAN FEDERAL PENTITENARY Leonard Peltier has been incarcerated as the result of a shootout incident between American Indian Movement members and Federal police agents in Oglala 37 years ago. To commemorate this event yesterday, he issued the following letter to be distributed to a select group of media. The Native News Network publishes it here today:
Greetings My Relatives,
First of all before I get into talking about anything, I want to tell you how much I deeply appreciate your remembering all the people who stood for what's right at the Oglala Confrontation. And I deeply want to thank you for remembering me and the chance to express myself to you. Each time that I am asked about putting together a comment for any kind of event I always think to myself what if I never got to say another thing. As you get older, that could very easily be a reality. So I try to give a lot of thought to what I say to you and to others and especially to any young people who might be listening to my words. And I want to be quite honest the words I have to say are the teachings of our people our elders our medicine people and things Iâ€™ve learned in life the hard way. And things Iâ€™ve learned in a good way. If speaking to you in some way makes your life better or prevents you from going to prison or being hurt or losing your land or your culture or helps in regaining the things our people have lost then I feel it will be worthwhile.
I hope and pray that none of the young people will ever end up in any prison situation. And especially end up in prison for trying to do what is right and defending what is right. In this prison setting the days go by oh so slowly and the months and years as I look back at them all kind of fold into one; because every day is so much the same. There are very few highlights and you hear of people having nightmares in their dreams but in here the nightmare is in your waking moments. And in your sleep you are free for a while.
I want to say how much I appreciate and respect our people for not selling or giving up the Black Hills in South Dakota. And how much I want to encourage all our people to remain strong and do everything they can to regain our culture. If we are ever to be a strong people again, that we once were, it will be because we have taken responsibility to regain our strength. This government will never return anything meaningful that is still of some money value to them. This is not my opinion it is reality and obvious to anyone who pays attention. We must do everything we can to regain strength of self-discipline. We must do everything we can to fully take responsibility for our future. Our ancestors before us fought and died and suffered for us. Each person here today is a result of someone who in the face of death and imprisonment stood and said, "The future of my children and my children's children and generations to come, is worth living and dying for." We should never let those sacrifices be in vain. The Creator of all things does not want our death; the Creator of all things wants our life; wants us to live for ourselves and for our children, and to protect the earth and nature for our future generations. That is who we are.
posted June 29, 2012 10:45 am edt