Written and delivered By Inila-Wakan A.K.A. Keith Janis


Thank you for the prompt reply regarding Mr. Peltier's case. I'm sure you're aware that action has been taken in response to the issue you raised regarding Executive Clemency. Apparently, the letter I received from Mr. Nussbaum was sent out to a number of individuals, including former Attorney General --Ramsey Clark(Mr. Peltier's current lawyer). The result has been an immediate and consolidated national petition drive. Through which, millions of signatures will be collected to accompany the petition for Executive Clemency. Maybe sometime before Christmas?

Mr. President, I know that you're equally as concerned about human rights as we are. So I trust that you will respond to this appeal for Clemency with utmost discretion and intelligence. You have an opportunity to accomplish what so many have labored so long for.You have an opportunity to crush forever, the general assumption in many Indigenous communities --"that the American democratic system is inherently flawed and rotten to it's core."

I hope you will excuse the harshness of that statement, because there are no other words that are descriptive enough to convey the deep resentment to the U.S. government that many of these communities share.

Having spent most of my life on the reservation, I offer a living account of the horrible violence and terror that dominated the lives of the Lakota people during the years 1973-1976. Things were so bad that a continuum of anger and hate developed, and years of invisible justice, government misconduct, and corporate adventurism, cost the lives of so many people that...there just is no way that you can fully comprehend, or understand, the pain and suffering that so many of us endured. I feel strongly that the only way to guarantee an intelligent judgement on your part,is if you have the actual reports from the Lakota people themselves. It would please me greatly if we were able to finally resolve the many problems that are outlined here, and close the pages of this horrible history and injustice.

There are so many instances of extreme racism and systematic terror, that weeks, and perhaps even years, could be spent trying to understand the rational of the actors behind them. The only thing that became clear to me was the fact that there were many individuals from the government, the multi-national corporations,even the military, operating on the reservation. All with an interest in keeping things stirred up, and all with an interest in maintaining instability.

I was a child of only ten years when the American Indian Movement was founded, but I remember how the people felt when they first appeared in public. There was a renewed sense of community and hope that seemed to surround all of our communities. For the first time in nearly one-hundred years, people began to value their heritage again. (Keep in mind that at one time, the free expression of our culture and spirituality was a punishable"Indian Offense"). Many of our spiritual leaders were murdered or assassinated trying to keep our culture alive. Being a victim of the missions, I personally can attest to the extreme abuses and human rights violations that many endured undergoing the assimilation process. Many of the children I saw beaten, didn't know what "Don't speak Sioux! Speak English!" --meant.

I apologize if I seem to be running off on a tangent. I hope you can understand how difficult it is for me to describe events in my memory, that left so many people emotionally and physically wounded, or dead. I want to know why? And I want to know what's going to be done about it?

The day agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams were shot and killed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, there were a lot of mixed emotions. Mostly anger and fear. You have to ask yourself,why were these two men even on the reservation, and what legal right did they have trying to enforce a state misdemeanor? What right did they have to arbitrarily pick people up off the streets and harass them with death threats, or bloody pictures of people that had been violently murdered? My children's aunt --Anna Mae Aquash was found dead on the reservation with a bullet through her head. I believe that the F.B.I. had a lot to do with it. Despite reports of death threats that were made against her by special agent David Price, her death remains a mystery.

When Anna Mae was arrested in September of 1975 at Crow Dog's paradise on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, she was approached by agent Price. Price told her that "I want to know who killed my agents, If you don't cooperate I will personally see to your death before the years out. After this conversation with Price,Anna Mae was released. In late February of the following year,her badly decomposed body was found face down in a ditch, with a bullet wound to the back of the head. Even though the area agents knew who Anna Mae was, they severed her hands from her body and ruled her dead from exposure. (She was labelled an unknown by the F.B.I. which suggests a cover-up). An independent autopsy revealed the bullet still in her head. And it appears that special agent Price held good on his word, that she'd be dead before the years end...

No matter how justified the F.B.I. felt they were in creating an atmosphere of violence on the reservation; their conduct to me is completely inexcusable. No human being should ever have to carry such horrible memories like these.

Mr. President, I sympathize with the families of agents; Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. But the justification for the Bureau's activities on the Pine Ridge Reservation simply did not exist.There never was a direct threat to overthrow the government. The American Indian Movement primarily existed to do four things;
1. To find justice for the gross civil and human rights violations being waged against so many of America's Indigenous communities.

2. To get the U.S. Government to honor it's many broken treaties.

3. To gain free access to traditional/religious rites and sacred sites.

4. To have our rights to Sovereignty and Self-determination recognized.

At the time of the incident, people were being beaten and harassed for not wanting to sign their land rights away. TheF.B.I., the B.I.A., and the Tribal police, all had a hand in the victimization of women, children, and elderly on Pine Ridge. The same trio also intimidated and persecuted anybody that even appeared to be traditional. I can only speculate as to how and why, the government viewed us as such a threat. Was it because we came and helped people feel proud of their culture? Was it because we believed in Grassroots Democracy and encouraged direct participation in the Tribal governments? Was it because we believed in social justice and accountability from unresponsive governments. Or was it because accountability meant the disclosure of a secret land transfer in which 1/8 of the reservation was illegally signed away to the Department Of The Interior. Land which incidentally contains heavy deposits of uranium.

As a matter of fact, when the U.S. launched it's assault on theJumping Bull Ranch in Oglala, South Dakota on June 26, 1975; The then Tribal chairman --Dick Wilson, happened to be in Washington,D.C. signing away the before mentioned land.

Ironically, the land in question ( The Sheep Mountain Section Of The Aerial Gunnery Range), is the same land that had been taken away by the government once before during World War II. This action caused much hardship and suffering. People were forced to endure sub-zero winters, living inside of makeshift shacks, armytents, even in caves. My Grandmother (Ellen Janis), lobbied in Washington for twenty-six years to recover that land. And none of the families agreed to give it up, and definitely not without an honest fight.

I firmly believe that Leonard Peltier, and all the other people that lived on the Jumping Bull Ranch, were the innocent victims of a pre-meditated, poorly orchestrated plot, to divert attention away from the illegal transference of a significant portion of our Tribal land-base. In fact, just prior to the shooting, there was a massive military mobilization at strategic locations near the ranch. Thus, one can easily conclude that they didn't overžstep their jurisdiction to arrest someone with a phony arrest warrant (which has never been produced), over a pair of cowboyboots. They went there to terrorize and kill anyone, or anything that moved. In an attempt to topple the American Indian Movement,and frame or neutralize it's leaders and members.

The Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation sought justice from the murder and violence that reached into every home and community. Despite overwhelming evidence and eye witness accounts of these violent assaults that occurred all over the reservation. Despite repeated requests to the Justice Department to investigate these occurrences, there's never been an inquiry.

Now I ask you Mr. President... " Where, and who does one turn to,when the B.I.A., the Tribal Police, and the F.B.I. turn their cheeks in the face of gross civil injustice and extreme human rights violations?"

I remember the sadness that the people felt when Pedro Bissonette was murdered for standing up in the name of Justice! I remember the grief that people felt when Byron Desersa was gunned down on a lonely road, leaving behind a wife and kids! I remember the fear and pain we felt when Anna Mae was found face down in a ditch! I remember the deep sense of isolation and loneliness that the people felt when Joe Stuntz was murdered on the Jumping Bull Ranch! And I remember how alienated we became when Leonard Peltier was maliciously extradited from Canada, tried and convicted on the basis of fabricated evidence, and sentenced to two life terms for the murder of agents Coler and Williams.

There's no justice in leaving such a valued member of our community to waste away in prison for a crime he did not commit.At Leonard's last appeal, U.S. Prosecutor --Lynn Crook--admitted to the reviewing court , " We don't know who killed the agents." Yet Leonard remains in prison.

We need to take genuine steps to begin the healing process in the name of "True Justice", and correct the wrong that has been done to the traditional people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.It is with deep regret that so many innocent people had to die struggling for their basic rights and freedom.

The Lakota communities find comfort in knowing that so many prominent individuals, institutions, and organizations are in support of their quest for justice. Many members of Congress,Amnesty International, The National Association Of CriminalDefense Lawyers, The National Association Of Christians And Jews,78 World religious leaders, including Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandella of South Africa, as well as the Archbishop Of Canterbury, all seek Leonard's freedom.

On behalf of The Caravan/March For Social Justice, we add our name to the over twenty-million people worldwide who have written to urge freedom and justice for Leonard Peltier. Proven F.B.I.misconduct in Peltier's trial, including suppression of key evidence and forthright perjury, make continued imprisonment a national disgrace.

In conclusion, it's with great hope that you will do the "right thing". and grant Leonard Peltier the freedom he so richly deserves.


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