Peltier was convicted in 1977 of having murdered two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, although he denied the charges
Sindh Courier Monitoring Desk
Tuesday, September 12th was Leonard Peltier’s 79th birthday who is the longest serving Indigenous political prisoner in the history of the United States, having served nearly 50 years in federal prison.
Born September 12, 1944, Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S., American Indian activist who, after becoming one of the best-known indigenous rights activists in North America, was convicted in 1977 of having murdered two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents.
Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned despite serious and ongoing concerns about the fairness of his trial and legal process. He has always maintained his innocence. For nearly 50 years, Indigenous activists, organizers, and allies have spoken out for his freedom.
Peltier moved to Seattle in 1965, where, as a part owner of an auto body shop, he employed other Native Americans and provided inexpensive repairs for those in need. During that time he became involved in Native Americans’ rights movement. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Peltier worked as a welder, carpenter, and community counselor and became involved with the American Indian Movement (AIM), a civil rights organization. While working as a community counselor in Denver, Peltier invested most of his energy in AIM’s programs. He got involved in a number of protests and rights actions, including the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties, a cross-country event that ended with the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) offices in Washington, D.C. In the mid-1970s Peltier and other AIM members went to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Their goal was to assist the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge in planning community activities, religious ceremonies, and programs for self-sufficiency and to help organize security there.
President Barack Obama had denied Peltier’s application for clemency
Leonard Peltier was given two life sentences in a trial that has sparked controversy for decades. In his 1999 memoir ‘Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance’, Peltier admitted to participating in the shootout but said he did not kill the FBI agents. Human rights watchdogs, such as Amnesty International, and political figures including Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and the 14th Dalai Lama, have campaigned for clemency for Peltier. On January 18, 2017, it was announced that outgoing President Barack Obama denied Peltier’s application for clemency.
Beside given two life sentences, he was further handed six year imprisonment in 1970 on the charges of escaping from the prison. Amnesty International and many other groups believe Peltier may have been wrongfully convicted in his 1975 trial and subsequent appeal. Peltier himself has always maintained his innocence and his supporters believe there were many flaws in that trial, appeal and the initial investigation.
He has become a hero of the Indigenous rights movement in the 1970s and is seen by many as a political prisoner whose story has inspired books, songs and T-shirt slogans.
The Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee has recently released a new video about the life of Leonard Peltier, created by a group of his friends and supporters.
He has become a hero of the Indigenous rights movement and is seen by many as a political prisoner whose story has inspired books, songs
The Leonard Peltier Official Ad Hoc Committee exists to secure Leonard’s release from Federal prison so that he can be with his family and community. This committee is the only organization authorized by Mr. Peltier to act on his behalf.
In addition to the video from the Leonard Peltier Official Ad Hoc Committee, a separate collaboration between Amnesty International and NDN Collective organized a 4-stop caravan pick-up for Leonard Peltier supporters in Rapid City, Minneapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh.