Monday, September 9, 2013

Leonard Peltier's Statement on Indigenous Rights Tribunal

September 9, 2013

By Leonard Peltier

My dear friends and family,

There is a lot being said about the scheduled “Leonard Peltier International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights" on October 2-4, 2013, on the Oneida Reservation in Oneida/Green Bay, WI.  I want to express support for and appreciation to my team for all of the hard work they are putting in to make this a documented historical event.  My team and I feel the time has come to address the many years of abuse suffered by Indigenous people all over the world.  We cannot afford to sit back and wait for justice and equal treatment for our people.  We cannot sit back and wait for change and “hope” that conditions will get better.  We have to get involved in making that change happen.

We have to develop the resources for our children and grandchildren using education as a tool.  We need Indigenous doctors working side by side with our Medicine men using traditional knowledge to heal our communities.  We need Indigenous attorneys who aren’t motivated by money to represent the overwhelming number of Natives who are locked in prison cells.  We need Indigenous teachers who are willing to  encourage, support and motivate our many gifted and talented children.  We have to take charge of our destiny. 

The goal of our Tribunal is to document our many struggles with the U.S. government.  The government was involved in outlawing every freedom we valued, from the way we talked to the Creator with our ceremonies to the way we parented our children.  Don’t ever forget the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental damage that came from ripping  Native children as young as 3 and 4 years old from the arms of their parents and putting them into the hands of cold, hard matrons in the boarding schools.  Men who normally provided for their families by fishing and hunting found themselves on the wrong side of the law and hunger became common.  Acres and acres of beautiful gardens in Native homelands were destroyed for the harvest of uranium flowing through the veins of our Sacred mother earth. 

I am a prime example of what happens when you try to stand up and protect the elders, babies and communities from corruption and disruption of our sacred way of life.  The very justice system, supposedly designed to uphold the laws of our land, will use any method necessary to get the outcome they want.  Intimidating witnesses, manufacturing  or withholding evidence, and judge shopping are all tactics used to achieve a conviction.  

These conditions are unacceptable.  While the current Administration has done more for our people than any in recent history, we can not stand idly by.  We must be involved with bringing about the change we need.  If we don’t demand accountability from the very government entrusted with our future, who will?  If not us, then who?  If not now, then when??

We as Indigenous people have always supported each other.  We have a history of Native trade between Nations in all four directions.  We didn’t create or recognize borders.  We communicated internationally.  That is the goal we now have in front of us.  We want to re-establish that relationship.  As Indigenous peoples, we must never forget that we are all related.  The time has come for us to come together again, to mend the sacred hoop that forever keeps us as one mind in one family.  Let no man divide us forever.  Please  join us as we begin the healing process. 

I am very humbled that this Tribunal has been named after me.  I promise to do my very best to be worthy of this honor. 


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

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