April 20, 2010
By Leonard Peltier
My warmest regards to our host, Bolivian President Evo Morales.
To Presidents Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and other esteemed Heads of State; national representatives; and all concerned citizens in attendance at the People’s Conference on Climate Change: I send warm greetings and thank you for your participation.
Today, environmentalists are often portrayed as marginal intellects and labeled “lunatic fringe,” rather than progressive thinkers with the ability to foresee the true cost of destructive corporate practices. I applaud your intent to ignore your detractors and admire your efforts to refine the proposals from the Copenhagen meetings—in particular, towards the creation of a world tribunal for climate issues and a global referendum on environmental choices. I know the calculus of this work is difficult to solve. Listening to the voices of so many to create a common solution is a unique and difficult challenge, but also a special opportunity. I offer prayers for your success.
My name is Leonard Peltier. I am a citizen of the Dakota/Lakota and Anishinabe Nations of North America. Like many of you, I am a tribal person. As Aboriginal peoples, we have always struggled to live in harmony with the Earth. We have maintained our vigilance and bear witness to a blatant disregard for our planet and sustainable life ways. We’ve seen that the pursuit of maximized profits through globalization, privatization, and corporate personhood has become a plague that destroys life. We know that it is not only the land that suffers as a result of these practices. The people most closely associated with the Earth suffer first and most.
The enormous pressures of corporate profits have intruded on our tribal lands, but also on our ancient cultures—even to the extent that many Indigenous cultures have virtually disappeared. Just as our relatives in the animal kingdom are threatened, many more cultures are on the brink of extinction.
In America, we are at ground zero of this war for survival and most often have been left with no mechanism to fight this globalization monster. On those occasions when we are forced into a defensive posture, we are disappeared, tortured, killed, and imprisoned. I myself have served over 34 years in prison for resisting an invasion intent on violating our treaties and stealing our land for the precious resource of uranium. The same desire for uranium has decimated and poisoned the Diné Nation of Arizona and New Mexico. The quest for land for dumping and hiding the toxic waste from various nuclear processes has caused a war to be waged on the Shoshone people of Nevada, as well. These are just a few examples of what “progress” has meant for our peoples. As many can attest, the same struggle is occurring throughout Central and South America. While my defense of my tribal lands made me a political prisoner, I know I’m not at all unique. This struggle has created countless other prisoners of conscience—not to mention prisoners of poor health and loss of life way, as well as victims of guilt and rage.
To live as we were meant to live is our first right. To live free of the fear of forced removal, destroyed homelands, poisoned water, and loss of habitat, food sources, and our overall life way is our righteous demand. We, therefore, continue our struggle to survive in the face of those who deny climate change and refuse to curb corporate powers.
It is time for all our voices to be heard.
It is time we all listen, too—or else our collective Mother will dramatically and forcefully unstop our ears.
The Indigenous Peoples have been the keepers of knowledge and wisdom—long ago bringing forth foods, medicines, and other products from which the world population still benefits. The loss of our lands and cultures, therefore, is a loss for the entire human family. We are all citizens of Earth and this planet is our only home. What affects one, affects us all. We are all interconnected and our fates are intertwined.
We can indefinitely survive here, but only if we work together to adopt sustainable models for living responsibly. We cannot continue to destroy Creator’s work, or allow others to do so, in the belief that there will be no consequences.
I pray for a new age—a new understanding, consciousness, and way of being—a new path for all the peoples of the world.
Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin!
(Thank you to all my relations. We are all related.)
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier 89637-132
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837