AP Photo
Native American activist Leonard Peltier has been in prison for 36 years, for a crime his supporters say he did not commit.

Leonard Peltier Day Honors Imprisoned Native Icon

Gale Courey Toensing


Leaders of the Oglala Lakota Nation have declared June 26 Leonard Peltier Day in honor of the American Indian Movement activist who has been in prison for 36 years, convicted of murdering two FBI agents in a trial that leading social justice organizations say was unfair and tainted by political influence.

Peltier (Anishinaabe-Lakota) was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in 1977 for the death of two FBI agents during a confrontation with American Indian Movement (AIM) members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota June 26, 1975. Peltier admits to being present, but denied at his trial and ever since that he shot the agents. Amnesty International calls Peltier a political prisoner.

Oglala Lakota Nation President Bryan Brewer and Vice-President Thomas Poor Bear issued a proclamation June 24 naming June 26thLeonard Peltier Day. The proclamation reads:

Whereas, June 26, 1975, is a historical day on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and

Whereas, The Oglala Sioux Tribe holds in high esteem people who stand for peace, justice and freedom, and

Whereas, Leonard Peltier, a man asked to stand and protect traditional elders and the Lakota Oyate, sacrificed himself that day, and

Whereas, we hereby proclaim this day so the Oyate and the world will know and honor Mr. Peltier and remember that we as a people continue to heal, and

Whereas, although Mr. Peltier cannot be in attendance for this historic event, we must and will continue his work to heal a nation through human rights, social rights and indigenous rights all over the world, now

Therefore, pursuant to vested authority, we do as President and Vice President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, hereby proclaim June 26, 2013 as a day of honoring for Mr. Leonard Peltier and hereafter every 26th day of June.

Len Foster, Navajo, a volunteer spiritual advisor for Native prisoners, visited Peltier in U.S. penitentiaries for 28 years, including Leavenworth in Kansas and Lewisburg in Pennsylvania, sharing sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies. But Foster has not seen Peltier for over a year since he was transferred to the prison in Colemen, Florida, a maximum-security facility with restrictive visiting rules.

“They consider him a maximum security level prisoner and his security clearance has stayed the same even though he has become a model inmate and a revered elder in the eyes of other Native prisoners. He’s 69 years old, and he’s been incarcerated 36 years now and has some health issues, including diabetes and high blood pressure and the pains and ailments around them,” Foster told Indian Country Today Media Network.

Peltier became eligible for parole years ago, Foster said, “yet they continue to deny him. I think it’s time he was paroled and if not paroled then released for medical purposes or on clemency. We’re working on a presidential pardon,” Foster said. “We continue to ask everyone to support his release, including the readers of this story. By writing Obama a handwritten letter asking for a pardon for Leonard. That would bring about some reconciliation between the non-Indians, the USD government and the Indian nations. We continue to pray that will happen.”

Marchers carry a large painting of American Indian Leonard Peltier during a “National Day of Mourning,” Thursday, November 22, 2001, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Rayden Stormcrow's picture
Rayden Stormcrow
Submitted by Rayden Stormcrow on
We are always and will be forever greatfull to him for his sacrifice. Him and a lot of others. This Will always and forever be his day. Many blessings and much love to U my brother on Ur special day. Love Rayden

SACHA GUITRY's picture
Submitted by SACHA GUITRY on
Shame on the Oglala Sioux Tribe President and Vice President.. To speak of this man as having sacrificed himself" is pure nonsense.

jimbo 's picture
Submitted by jimbo on
we should be ashamed of our self let this man live what life he has left free among his people we gave the draft dodgers have freedom let him free!!!!!!

Jack Magee's picture
Jack Magee
Submitted by Jack Magee on
This is a matter of great urgency. Peltier has been denied justice for almost forty years and now is struggling to survive major health problems, poor medical care and the hardships of prison life for an elderly man. Please pass this on and share widely. It is long past time.to free him.

Pat McDermott's picture
Pat McDermott
Submitted by Pat McDermott on
Our brave warrior brother incarcerated for most of his precious life without full evidence and 'framed'..... so many signing petitions for years, Obama himself a non-white turning a blind eye..... The ancestors are weeping I am sure, that our brave brother has not been freed to let the winds blow freely through his hair in his latter years.... ill and in poor health for so long without the essential medications required....Bow your heads in shame America....for carrying on the original holocaust against our brave Native families not only for decades but for centuries...and it continues....refer to the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations and the atrocious conditions Natives elders and youth alike are force to endure..... The American Dream for the White Man living on stolen lands..... The American Nightmare for our Native brothers and Sisters...

Edward J Choda's picture
Edward J Choda
Submitted by Edward J Choda on
stand tall be proud keep your nation and values strong. Many stand with you or at least have seen enough of our governments B.S.Live the dream not the lie

Per Olsen, Denmark's picture
Per Olsen, Denmark
Submitted by Per Olsen, Denmark on
IMHO: The biggest and most important recognition Leonard Peltier has ever received!!! :-) Hail ye Lakotafolks!

Pamela Saunders's picture
Pamela Saunders
Submitted by Pamela Saunders on
Leonard is an American political prisoner who is no more guilty of any crime than I am! The US government wanted a scapegoat for THEIR unwarranted, illegal attack on the indigenous peoples of the US. The FBI should be brought up on human rights charges at the very least, and the government itself needs to be charged with (once again) breach of contract!