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Leonard Peltier - October 1999
Leonard Peltier - November 1999
Leonard Peltier - December 1999
CNN Peltier transcript
Thanks to Wild Horse for this transcript!!!!
GREENFIELD: Welcome back to CNN & TIME.
Oct. 20, 1999
Because we think of ourselves as such a politically stable
country, we're shocked when we hear of violence that erupts between
federal authorities and groups of private citizens. Think of Waco or Ruby
Well, nearly a quarter of a century ago, in a more turbulent time in America,
there was another shootout, this one at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South
Dakota. It's case that is still controversial.
What actually happened at Pine Ridge in 1975? That remains
unclear. What we do know is that two FBI agents were killed and only one
man has ever been convicted and sent to prison for those crimes. That
man is Leonard Peltier.
More now from Mark Potter.
LEONARD PELTIER, CONVICTED OF DOUBLE HOMICIDE: I didn't
kill these people. I didn't kill them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel in this case that justice
was done, genuinely and honestly.
PELTIER: I didn't kill those agents. I didn't see who killed those agents. And
if I did know, I'm not telling. But I don't know. That's the point.
POTTER (on camera): Did you fire at those agents, Coler and Williams?
PELTIER: I shot in their direction, yes.
POTTER: You did shoot in their direction?
PELTIER: Yes, when I was running up toward the house. But I
mean, I -- I know I didn't hit them. I know I didn't.
POTTER (voice-over): It's argument that Leonard Peltier, a Native American,
has made for years: that he is innocent of murdering two
FBI agents in South Dakota in 1975. He's been behind bars for those
killings for nearly a quarter century and still argues defiantly that the agents
were at fault.
POTTER (on camera): So the deaths of those agents are not murders.
PELTIER: Not in Indian -- not in Indian people's eyes.
POTTER: What are they?
POTTER: In the Badlands of South Dakota on the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation, the mystery of exactly what occurred here on June
26th, 1975 is still unsolved. What is known is the morning quiet was
shattered by a shootout between a group of Native Americans and two
FBI agents. The agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, were wounded from
afar, then executed at point-blank range.
The only person ever convicted and imprisoned for the killings was Leonard
Peltier. He is serving two onsecutive life sentences at the Leavenworth
All these years later, the case of the United States of America versus Leonard
Peltier remains controversial. Many argue that he has served more than enough
time in prison.
(on camera): What are you guilty of? Is there anything you concede?
PELTIER: Standing up for my people, saying, no more,
America. God dammed, no more. Stop killing us. That's what I'm guilty of.
POTTER (voice-over): But the FBI and federal prosecutors
argue firmly that Peltier is lying, that the agents' blood is on his
hands and he should not be released.
Nicholas O'Hara (ph) is a retired FBI supervisor.
NICHOLAS O'HARA, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISOR: Why should any
civilized community have to take somebody like that who has shown no
remorse, no sorrow, no acceptance of responsibility? The guy should never see
the light of day.
POTTER (on camera): His argument for not showing remorse is
that he's victimized and he didn't do it.
O'HARA: That's bullshit. The evidence is absolutely incontrovertible of his
involvement in that -- in those double homicides. I've described Leonard
Peltier as a mad-dog. He is truly a mad-dog.
POTTER (voice-over): Lynn Crooks is an assistant U.S. attorney who helped put
Peltier in prison.
(on camera): Years later, decades later, you can still sleep well at night
thinking that the...
LYNN CROOKS, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely.
POTTER: ... right man was convicted.
CROOKS: There's never -- there's never been a twinge of doubt that's ever
crept into my consciousness that Leonard was not a guilty participant in this
POTTER (voice-over): Still, not everyone is convinced he is guilty or received
a fair trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am
profoundly honored to be in Pine Ridge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POTTER: Recently, when President Clinton visited the Pine Ridge Reservation to
promote economic development, he was confronted by Native Americans calling
for Peltier's release.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, they concede they have no evidence...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POTTER: Over time, Peltier's case even became an international cause celebre.
Among those who have supported him are Mikhail Gorbachev, the European
Parliament, and former South African archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond
DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL LAUREATE: In a democratic society where there is
transparency, you are innocent until you've been proven guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. And in this case, it doesn't seem so.
POTTER: Peter Matthiessen's book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" brought
Peltier's case to the public.
PETER MATTHIESSEN, AUTHOR, "IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE":
We want Leonard Peltier to get a fair hearing. We want him out before
his entire life is drained away to satisfy other people's political or
POTTER: Robert Redford is also a supporter and produced a
documentary called "Incident at Oglala: The Leonard Peltier Story."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amnesty International considers Leonard
Peltier to be a political prisoner.
POTTER: Amnesty International is calling for Peltier's immediate release.
Peltier has his own defense committee, with an Internet site, and even has
support on Capitol Hill.
Among those arguing for clemency is Senator Daniel Inouye.
SEN. DANIEL INOUYE (D), HAWAII: Over the years, the evidence that Leonard
Peltier is not the guilty party just seems to mount.
POTTER: But prosecutor Crook says Peltier's are either uninformed about all
the evidence or blinded by emotion.
CROOKS: This is a very garden-variety murder case, and it
-- it took on an air of a special case only because of the willingness of
certain supporters to take this as an Indian cause when in fact this never
had anything to do with him being an Indian.
Shooting FBI agents is a federal crime, regardless.
POTTER (on camera): So why does this nearly 25-year-old
case continue to evoke such emotion and concern. To many, it is seen as
unfinished business from the turbulent 1970s and the political climate of the
(voice-over): In 1973, two years before the agents were murdered, armed
activists from AIM, the American Indian Movement, took over Wounded Knee,
South Dakota to protest conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It led to a
71-day standoff with heavily armed federal authorities.
When the standoff ended, Pine Ridge was thrown into what Peltier supporters
call the reign of terror: escalating violence between AIM supporters and
tribal vigilantes known as Guardians of the Oglala Nation, or GOONs.
Edgar Bearrunner (ph) was there.
EDGAR BEARRUNNER: The vast majority of people were prisoners of fear. You
couldn't get out on the road and walk down the road without being shot or run
over. Or you couldn't leave your lights on at nighttime without fear of a
POTTER: Bruce Ellison is one of Leonard Peltier's attorneys.
BRUCE ELLISON, ATTORNEY FOR LEONARD PELTIER: It was very
much of a state of war in that sense, very much of a state of terror.
POTTER: Some claim the FBI contributed to the climate of fear by targeting
AIM, an allegation the FBI denies. It was during that period of conflict that
Leonard Peltier came to the reservation as part of AIM to provide security.
It was also the time in June 1975 when the two FBI agents, Coler and Williams,
drove onto the reservation in separate cars, reportedly searching for a young
assault and robbery suspect.
According to the government's version of events, the agents
came upon this red and white van driven by Leonard Peltier.
CROOKS: Leonard and two other young men came into their area in the red and
white van, followed by the agents, went down into the valley. The agents had
said on the radio it looks like they're going to stop, it looks like they're
getting out, they may shoot at us, we've been hit.
POTTER: The agents were in a bad position: a low-lying pasture surrounded by
hills and trees.
According to the government, carrying only handguns, their rifles in the
trunks of their cars, were also outgunned.
CROOKS: When the shooting started, others came from the
camp, and now we have six or seven people shooting at the agents. Very
quickly, they were injured, seriously.
O'HARA: There were over 125 holes in the agents' cars. The ground was chewed
up by the fire that was directed at these two defenseless agents. Jack Coler
was shot, mortally wounded and knocked unconscious.
for Coler's arm and there's two bullet holes in the shirt. So he'd already
been hit himself.
POTTER: The question of what happened next is the most controversial part of
the government's case because a credible eye witness has never come forward.
Federal authorities say the wounded agents were executed at
close range and that the evidence suggests the murders occurred as
Ronald Williams tried to surrender.
O'HARA: He apparently was holding his right hand up to shield himself from the
assailants who came forward. And as they shot him, they
shot him directly through the hand, blowing part of it away, into his head
killing him. And either before that or after that, Jack Coler, who's
laying on the ground dying, is shot twice in the head, killing him.
POTTER: The government claims it found a shell casing in the trunk of Agent
Coler's car that came from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, allegedly carried by
CROOKS: There's no question that he was the only individual who was seen
firing at the agents with an AR-15 by any witness. Every witness at trial was
consisted that the AR-15 was his, there was only one of them, and it was his.
POTTER: Based on circumstantial evidence and testimony, including that of
several Native Americans, the prosecution's contention is that Leonard Peltier
was involved in the executions.
influence of Leonard Peltier. They aren't down there to give aid and comfort
to these two injured, dying men. They're down there to execute them, and
that's exactly what they did.
POTTER (on camera): So ultimately, the question of whether Leonard actually
fired the fatal shots in that broad context doesn't matter.
CROOKS: It's legally, factually and morally irrelevant. To me, the law looks
at him in exactly the same way, whether he handed the gun to someone else and
had them do it or whether he did it himself.
POTTER (voice-over): It's an account that Leonard Peltier and his supporters
deny, claiming the government's case was built on phony evidence.
PELTIER: Somebody has to pay, that's what they're saying.
Somebody has to pay, and I'm the unfortunate person that has to pay.
GREENFIELD: Coming up, Leonard Peltier says he was framed.
His version of events when CNN & TIME continues.
SHAW: The FBI calls Leonard Peltier a cold-blooded killer,
a criminal responsible for a 1975 firefight that killed two federal
agents. But if you listen to Peltier and his supporters, you hear a
completely different story, one of a political prisoner and injustice.
Here again is Mark Potter.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: President Clinton, release Peltier, release Peltier.
POTTER (voice-over): On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,
many of the tensions and concerns from the mid-1970s are still present
today. It remains one of the poorest corners in America. Unemployment is
nearly 75 percent. Alcoholism and hopelessness abound.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: What are we working for today?
POTTER: In mid-summer, Pine Ridge residents led off on a protest march led by
veterans of the 1973 Wounded Knee takeover, including AIM leaders Russell
Means and Dennis Banks.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: This is the Nebraska State Patrol. You're in
violation. Disperse at once.
POTTER: At the Nebraska border, they confronted police. Nine were arrested. At
issue were concerns over alcohol sales and the unsolved murders of two young
Native Americans. It's of the times two and a half decades ago, when Leonard
Peltier set up camp at Pine Ridge.
Today, Peltier is serving two life prison sentences, which
run until the year 2040. He is now a 55 year old grandfather.
(on camera): What's your greatest fear?
PELTIER: Dying in prison, you know, away from my family.
POTTER (voice-over): Peltier denies the government's contention he was
involved in the executions of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams.
PELTIER: I didn't kill these people. I didn't kill them. I
don't know how else to say it. I didn't kill them.
POTTER: He also denies he was in or even near the red and
white vehicle the government claims they were following when the
PELTIER: That was not my vehicle, first of all.
POTTER (on camera): To be clear, when the agents came on to
the reservation and into that area, where were you?
PELTIER: I was down at camp.
POTTER (voice-over): According to Peltier's version of events, he was still in
bed when he heard gunshots.
PELTIER: Then all of a sudden everybody said, man, we're
being attacked. We're being attacked. I says, oh, my God. So I grabbed an
old rifle and started running up to the house. There was all kinds of
POTTER: Peltier claims the only time he fired was in self-defense.
PELTIER: Some shells hit the side of the building, so I know they were
shooting at me.
POTTER (on camera): And you shot back?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
POTTER: Did you hit anybody?
hit, hurt where I was shooting at.
POTTER (voice-over): Peltier says he never saw the dead agents.
(on camera): So with those cars down there at the center of that, you, as a
leader, never -- never went down to see what was going on.
PELTIER: That's right.
POTTER: You never saw the bodies?
POTTER (voice-over): But later, Peltier changed his account when told that
another AIM member had said publicly he and Peltier approached the agents'
(on camera): Did you see the agents dead?
POTTER: You did see them dead?
PELTIER: Actually, I mean, I -- I, you know, I knew they got killed. I heard
they got killed. I knew they got killed.
POTTER: Did you see them there?
POTTER: But you saw them from...
PELTIER: A distance.
POTTER: From some distance?
POTTER: What did the scene look like?
PELTIER: I don't know, just two people laying there. I mean, the car door --
the car door was open and stuff.
POTTER (voice-over): The shoot-out prompted a massive law
enforcement response during which Joe Killsright Stuntz, a young Native
American, was shot and killed.
Afterward, Peltier says he and several others left the area. He claims he
turned down an offer to hide in Cuba and eventually made
his way to Canada.
PELTIER: We don't have no faith in the justice system. We
didn't have no -- didn't think anybody could get fair trials. Don't
think anybody - you know, they were going to railroad somebody. They were
extremely upset about what happened to their agents.
POTTER: In November 1975, five months after the shoot-out,
Peltier and three other men were indicted for the murders of the FBI
agents. Charges against one of them were dropped. Two others, Bob Robideau and
Dino Butler were tried in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
They denied executing the agents, and argued that because of widespread
violence and fear on the reservation, they had acted in self- defense. The
jury found them both not guilty.
Defense attorney Bruce Ellison:
BRUCE ELLISON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: After Butler and Robideau
were found not guilty by the jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the
government documents say that they decided to shift all of their attention to
basically convicting Leonard Peltier.
POTTER: By then, Leonard Peltier had been arrested in Canada and was
extradited to the United States. His trial in Fargo, North Dakota, was under
much different circumstances than the trial of Robideau and Butler. Jurors
were sequestered and security was tight.
ELLISON: The jurors were transported in buses that had the windows painted
shut. It's a climate of fear, and I think that that climate of fear pervaded
the entire courtroom.
POTTER (on camera): During Peltier's trial, the judge limited the amount of
historical evidence that could be presented about violence
on the reservation and alleged FBI conduct. In addition, had more
witnesses than at Cedar Rapids. Peltier never testified on his own behalf.
(voice-over): In April 1977, Leonard Peltier was convicted of two counts of
One concern among supporters is whether Peltier was extradited fairly from
These affidavits were sworn by a woman named Myrtle Poor Bear, who said she
was Peltier's girlfriend and actually saw him commit the murders.
PELTIER: Myrtle Poor Bear? Who the hell is Myrtle Poor Bear?
POTTER: The federal government used her affidavits to help convince Canadian
authorities to return Peltier to the U.S. for trial. Myrtle Poor Bear later
claimed her statements were coerced.
ELLISON: She wasn't even there. She had never known Leonard
Peltier. It was a complete and total fabrication.
POTTER: Over the years, some members of the Canadian parliament raised
concerns about the extradition. The current Canadian justice minister says
there was no fraud, and the FBI denies falsifying the affidavits. Prosecutor
Len Crooks argues the controversy over Myrtle Poor Bear and
the extradition had no bearing on the murder conviction.
CROOKS: Myrtle Poor Bear was not a trial witness. She did
not testify before the jury. She had absolutely no impact on that
POTTER: But Peltier's supporters argue the extradition typifies a pattern of
government misconduct in this case, for example, the issue of the red and
white van. Attorney Ellison argues that the FBI's own documents suggest the
murdered agents may have actually been fired upon from a red pickup truck, not
the van the government linked to Peltier.
ELLISON: What we did not learn until after that trial was over, years after
that trial was over was that the government knew it was a red pickup that the
agents followed in.
CROOKS: The eyewitnesses only placed one vehicle coming in
and that's Leonard's. So obviously, they've developed the theory
that there was another shooter, but there's no evidence of that. There was no
evidence presented at trial of that.
POTTER: Peltier's supporters also attacked the government's
crucial ballistics evidence. At trial, the FBI said the shell casing
found in the trunk of Agent Coler's car came from an AR-15 rifle linked to
ELLISON: Years after the trial, we obtained FBI documentation which showed
that a definitive test excluded that casing as having been fired by that
POTTER: Prosecutor Crooks argues the FBI ballistics reports were badly written
and confusing, and that while the first tests were incomplete and
inconclusive, the final lab analysis matched the casing to the weapon. A
federal appeals court agreed.
CROOKS: The bottom line of that opinion is the shell casing matches. Nobody
seriously doubts that in any kind of scientific sense.
POTTER: The weapon was found in a car that exploded on the turnpike near
Wichita, Kansas, after the Pine Ridge shoot out. Several AIM members were
arrested, but Peltier was not there. The defense claims it is impossible to
prove the badly damaged weapon was his. Prosecutor Crooks
says a witness linked Peltier to the AR-15.
PELTIER: That's another lie. I never had no, you know, no AR-15.
POTTER: Peltier's supporters say the government's evidence is unreliable.
O'HARA: No way.
POTTER: The FBI categorically denies it fabricated evidence or coerced
O'HARA: I don't think there is any question from a review of the facts that he
was given a fair trial. It would have to be such a major conspiracy to
railroad Leonard Peltier that it's almost impossible to fathom how complex
that would be. The evidence is there, clear and convincing. He was there. He
POTTER (on camera): Peltier's attorneys argued his case three times before a
federal appeals court and lost every time. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to
review it. Last year, he was again denied parole.
(voice-over): With his appeals exhausted, Peltier's best hope for release now
is clemency from the president of the United States.
(on camera): Leonard, do you know who killed those agents?
POTTER: You don't?
POTTER (voice-over): Peltier continues to blame the government for the
PELTIER: The oppression, the terror that they were committing, they were
financing. Murders that they were supporting, not, you know, not
investigating. I mean, it's all those things. I know that's what happened.
People were mad. People were angry.
CROOKS: He's not succeeded in getting parole for the reason that most people
don't succeed: He's not shown the normal contrition, the normal remorse, the
normal what-not that goes into it.
POTTER: Retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, SOUTH AFRICA: The point is he says
he is innocent. I mean, you say, how can he be able to express contrition or
remorse for something that he hasn't done?
ELLISON: His two co-defendants were found not guilty on the same charges. It's
a wrong that remains to be corrected.
POTTER: Author Peter Matthiessen.
PETER MATTHIESSEN, AUTHOR: I think we have a wonderful chance to act
mercifully and say, enough is enough. This man has paid.
POTTER: But the government's position remains firm. Two
consecutive life sentences means two consecutive life sentences.
POTTER (on camera): In your view, does Leonard belong right
where he is, in prison?
POTTER: Still today?
CROOKS: Yes. I have seen nothing to indicate that he shouldn't be right where
he is at.
PELTIER: I'm not a cold-blooded executioner like Len Crooks
has been saying for 25 years, or 24 years. You know, I'm not a mad-dog
killer. I'm not a thug. I'm a human being. That's been wronged, and I have
some friends to tell the world.
SHAW: Those seeking clemency for Leonard Peltier plan to
bring their message here to Washington next month. Dubbing November,
Leonard Peltier Freedom Month, supporters are outlining a series of events in
the nation's capital, including a near month-long fast in front of the White
Urgent Action: Help Raise
Attention to "Leonard's" Case at Televised Candidates Debate Between Bradley and
WHAT: Urgent Action | Help Raise Attention to "Leonard's" Case at
Televised Candidates Debate Between Bradley and Gore
WHERE: 37 North Main Street, Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH
WHEN: 7:00 PM, Wednesday, October 27, 1999
To Leonard Peltier Supporters,
Follow the Eagle to Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH:
Gather at 7 p.m., Wednesday, October 27th outside of 37 North Main
Street, for final strategy meetings. Peltier events will begin a 9
p.m. Please bring "free leonard" banners and posters, drums, singers,
dancers and prayers.
This is a major televised candidates debate at Dartmouth between Bill
Bradley and Al Gore, from 8-9 p.m., and will provide our gathering with
a critical backdrop and media presence.
Our goals for the evening are both educational and political. The true
facts of the Leonard Peltier case are well known and notorious abroad,
but have been heavily censored within the U.S.
We will use this opportunity on October 27th in a positive way to teach
the American people what is truly taking place, and to encourage them to
speak out --- with love, dignity and humor.
All Peltier supporters in the New England area are encouraged to
participate in this event. Again, please bring banners and posters,
drums, singers and dancers!
For more information or if you wish to confirm your presence at this
event, please call 603-588-2916.
Sent: Friday, October 15, 1999
Declaration in Peltier's support for executive clemency
PLEASE REPLY TO <email@example.com
Subject: Declaration in Support of Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier
please post widely
From: NORTHWEST LEONARD PELTIER SUPPORT NETWORK
P.O. BOX 5464
TACOMA. WA 98415-0464
In the month of November there will be major month long campaign
for executive clemency for Leonard Peltier. We intend to use every
means of communication possible to convey our message to President
Clinton. We ask that all who support executive clemency to please sign
the document below. On October 29th we will send the declaration out
to all who have signed it with the list of those who have also signed. We
ask that each person send it to the White House on Nov.1, along with a
short statement by each as to why they signed it. Those who wish to
sign on to the declaration please send to the NWLPSN at;
firstname.lastname@example.org, how you wish to be listed.
Arthur J. Miller
NOVEMBER FREEDOM MONTH DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF
EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY FOR LEONARD PELTIER
WHEREAS; The events that led up to the firefight on the Pine Ridge
Oglala Lakota Reservation on July 26, 1975 created an situation of
extreme concern for the lives and well-being of many Oglala people.
Because of that great concern traditional Oglala Elders requested the
assistance of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and among the AIM
members who responded to the request was Leonard Peltier.
WHEREAS; On July 26, 1975 two unmarked cars came into the area
where AIM had an encampment in the same manner that a number of
other driveby shootings had occurred on Pine Ridge, the AIM members
believed that they were under attack. In the firefight that resulted one
AIM member and two FBI agents were killed. In the first trial of AIM
members this was clearly shown for they were found not guilty because
the jury believed that they acted in self-defense.
WHEREAS; In the case of Leonard Peltier, there is proven FBI
misconduct including fraudulent affidavits used to extradite him from
Canada, the suppression of key evidence of innocence at his trial, the
coercion of witnesses, perjury by government agents and the refusal
of the trial judge to allow the same type of defense evidence that led to
a not guilty verdict in the first trial. For these reasons Leonard Peltier
did not have a fair trial and was found guilty.
WHEREAS; Leonard Peltier's attorneys have disproven the government's
case against Leonard, in the appeals process, to the point that the
government's prosecutor in this case has conceded that they don't know
who killed their agents and if they had to try Leonard again they do not
have the evidence to reconvict him.
THEREFORE; We the undersigned view the continuing imprisonment of
Leonard Peltier to be extremely unjust and a blight upon the principles
that the United States of America claims to follow. Throughout the world
and along with many citizens of the United States, people of all walks of
life have called for you, President Clinton, to grant Leonard Peltier
executive clemency. We the undersigned wish to add our names to that
+++ Names Omitted for this posting+++
Please return to NWLPSN; email@example.com
Trudell at Peltier Benefit
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 21:06:53 -0500
LEONARD PELTIER BENEFIT AND JOHN TRUDELL BIO
JOHN TRUDELL TO SPEAK AT LEONARD PELTIER DEFENSE COMMITTEE
Spoken word artist John Trudell, will appear in a benefit concert for The
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee at the Heartland Cafe on Tuesday,
Wednesday, and Thursday, October 12, 13, and 14, 1999.
Mr. Trudell will headline each evening's performance and will be performing
poetry and speaking in support of Native American political prisoner
Produced by Chicago Rock Against Racism and The Heartland Cafe, and
sponsored by the A.I.M. Support Group of Illinois the three evening event
will include focused presentations on various social justice issues with a
strong emphasis on Native American cultural and political issues.
At press time, the scheduled performances and presentations are:
Tuesday, October 12
- - SOARRING - Save Our Ancestors Remains & Resources, Indigenous Network Group
- - The First Nations Film and Video Festival
- - James Yellowbank - poet/performer
- - John Trudell
Wednesday, October 13
- - The Red Path Theatre Company's Native American Poet's Guild hosted
by E. Donald Two-Rivers
- - Dennis Dixon - singer/songwriter
- - The Nitti Hills Band
- - John Trudell
Thursday, October 14
- - Michael Haney and Vernon Bellecourt, members of the Grand Governing
Council of The American Indian Movement speaking for The National Coalition
on Racism in Sports and the Media
- - The Aaron Patterson Defense Committee
- - James Yellowbank - poet/performer
- - John Trudell
Suggested donation for this event is $1.00 to
$100.00 as you can afford
Each evening's performance begins at approximately 6:45 PM.
The Heartland Cafe is located at 7000 N. Glenwood (Lunt & Glenwood) in
Chicago. Parking is available at the Trilogy Lot, 11/2 blocks North at Glenwood and
Estes. For information call: 773-465-8005
ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE LEONARD PELTIER DEFENSE COMMITTEE
Identified as a poet, a leader for Native American Rights, a powerful
speaker, and an "extremely effective" communicator, John Trudell calls
himself "a blue Indian." Indeed, Trudell is the complex sum of all that
he's seen, endured and accomplished in his 53 years.
Much of that life experience is reflected in Trudell's newest release,
Blue Indians. The album, as explained by Trudell, "is literally about
the technical world as an industrial reservation. This time everyone
plays the part of the Indian with their range of feelings and attitudes."
Produced by long-time friend Jackson Browne, the new songs
represent the latest of Trudell's independent efforts.
John Trudell did not set out to be a poet. He took that road primarily
through a series of detours, and his poetic and political sensibilities
were forged by the remarkable, sometimes horrifying circumstances of his
Born on February 15, 1946 in Omaha, Nebraska, Trudell grew up on and
around the nearby Santee Sioux reservation. (His father was Santee, his
mother's tribal roots were in Mexico). Trudell became acquainted with
economic hardship at an early age; his mother died when he was six,
leaving his father to care for his large family.
During the years that followed, Trudell's contempt for the dominant
"American way of life" deepened, along with his outrage at poverty and
racism. In 1963, Trudell found himself in the military. "I went in for
economic reasons and picked the Navy because I wanted to minimize my
chances of becoming a rifle-toting target. But the experience did teach
me that what was happening to me as an Indian, a prisoner of America,
was happening to others all over the world." A resume he put together
for a press kit a few years ago contains the following listing:
1967-1969: Jobs, School, Disillusionment "I was in a holding pattern," he says, until 1969,
when he found himself on the front line of an event that brought the
plight of Native Americans to mass consciousness for the first time.
That event was the Indians of All Tribes Occupation of Alcatraz. "From
the time I had gone into the military in '63 to the time I went to
Alcatraz, I had been away from any indigenous roots and connections. So, I
went there, trying to find something, and I found a whole lot of other
people like me. And we hadn't surrendered, whatever our frailties were."
National and international media flocked to the island to cover the
story. Along with the media came attention from the U.S. government,
particularly the FBI. "It took the non-indigenous community's support
to allow us to do what we did," says Trudell, who acted as National
Spokesman for the occupation force. "The government called us
'militants,' attempting to discredit us and ostracize us from the
The occupation eventually ended in 1971, but something more lasting was
poised to replace it: the American Indian Movement, A.I.M. Trudell
served as National Chairman from 1973-1979; with this high profile
position came increasing attention from the U.S. government, more
notably the FBI, which has compiled a 17,000-page file bearing his
name. The government response to A.I.M. was swift:
As Trudell bluntly states, "They waged a war against us. They hunted us
down. They killed, jailed, destroyed by any means necessary."
In 1979 that war took a terrible personal toll on John Trudell, in the
form of an almost unspeakable tragedy that changed his life forever.
While incarcerated in the Springfield Federal Prison Hospital in
Springfield, Missouri in January of 1978, Trudell had been warned to
watch what he was saying, or better yet, "to not say it at all." On
February 11, 1979 Trudell led a march to the FBI headquarters in
Washington, D.C. He delivered an address on the FBI's war against
Indians, and burned an American flag that he felt had been desecrated by
racist and class injustice. Approximately 12 hours later in the early
morning hours, a fire "of suspicious origin" burned down Trudell's home
on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada, killing his wife Tina,
their three children, and Tina's mother. The Bureau of Indian Affairs
officially declared the fire an "accident" and the FBI declined an
investigation. But Trudell flatly states, "It was murder. They were
murdered as an act of war." Devastated by this loss of his family, Trudell
withdrew from the world; "writing words" became his way "to keep some sanity"
and continue to survive. "The writing, the poetry came as a surprise
to me. I had done political writing, in the form of speeches, but not
anything that I thought of as poetry. But about six months or so
after the fire, when I was really down, the lines came. The lines were my
bombs, my explosions, my tears, they were my everything.
Gradually I started trying them out at my speeches, asking myself, 'is
this my own private madness or is this something the people can
What began as a form of therapy soon turned into much more: the words
poured out of Trudell and his works were well received. In 1981,
Trudell published a book of poetry, Living In Reality, yet by 1982, he
had decided he wanted to combine his poetry with music. "In April or
May of '79, I met Jackson Browne at Mt. Taylor in Grants, New Mexico.
He allowed me room to roam around in his world. So I was around
recording studios and musicians. And I've always liked rock 'n roll
anyway. So, I began to think about joining the poetry with the oldest
indigenous musical forms and the newest musical forms." First came the
recording, Tribal Voice, at Jackson's studio putting the poetry with the
drum and chants. Later, after Trudell met Jesse Ed Davis, came the rock
Jesse Ed Davis, himself a Kiowa from Oklahoma, was something of a
musical legend. Getting his start in 1966, he was known for playing
with everybody. Jesse had recorded and toured with the likes of Eric
Clapton, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, John Lennon, Jackson Browne (the
memorable guitar solo on Browne's first hit, "Doctor My Eyes," was by
Davis), Taj Mahal and countless others. His innate understanding of
blues and rock 'n roll turned out to be just what Trudell had been
looking for. "When we met in 1985, he told me his name and then he
said, 'I can make music for your words.' With Jesse and me, we each
came from our collective Indian experience, and had our individual
experiences in the non-Indian world. We had both literally been to the
last door of hell, opened it, and saw what was inside."
The Trudell and Davis union of poetry and music yielded a powerful,
instinctive sound that led to a first album in 1986 titled, AKA Grafitti
Man. The album, released on Trudell's own Peace Company label in a
cassette-only format, gained critical attention even with its limited
distribution. In a Rolling Stone interview, Bob Dylan called AKA
Grafitti Man "the best album of 1986," and had the album played over the
P.A. system during intermissions on his 1987 tour with the Grateful
Trudell and Davis released a second album together, Heart Jump Bouquet,
as well as another recording in the Tribal Voice series, titled...But
This Isn't El Salvador in 1987. Then suddenly in 1988, Jesse Ed Davis
died. While shaken, Trudell resolved himself to go on. He began to
collaborate with Mark Shark, the Grafitti Band's rhythm guitarist.
"When Jesse died, Mark just kind of carried it on from there. So it was
a continuation. The musicians changed, but you listen to Mark at times,
and you'll hear the Jesse Ed influences in there, very strong."
A 1988 tour as the opening act for the popular and highly politicized
Australian band, Midnight Oil, gained Trudell and the Grafitti Band some
mainstream exposure. In 1991, with Shark, Trudell recorded a third
album, Fables and Realities. And in 1992, Trudell and Shark (a.k.a.
IKTOMI) produced a third in the Tribal Voice series, titled, Child's
Voice: Children of the Earth.
Signed to Rykodisc in 1992, Trudell was introduced to an international
audience, receiving worldwide distribution for the first time with a
re-make of his original AKA Grafitti Man, produced by Jackson Browne.
Gaining wide critical acclaim as a poet, Trudell was cast in two movies,
one fictional (Thunderheart) and one documentary (Incident At Oglala) -
both dealing with Indian clashes with the U.S. government during the
1970's. Trudell released a second album on Rykodisc in 1994, Johnny
Damas & Me. Most recently, in 1998, Trudell was cast as the Radio DJ,
in Sherman Alexie's award winning Sundance film, Smoke Signals.
With his newest project Blue Indians, produced by Jackson Browne,
Trudell's powerful fusion of poetry and music comes from the heart and
spirit of a "blue Indian." "I see a real future for spoken word with
music. Poetry is based on the oldest oral traditions. In music, lyrics
are written to what the math of the music allows us to say; poetry is
what we need to say. And to me...it's a canyon worth of difference."
"I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very
rapidly losing its understanding of being human."
Reenactment of the Wounded Knee
Dear Peltier supporters,
Below is a letter written to everyone who signed up for the possible
reenactment of the Wounded Knee massacre during Leonard Peltier Freedom
Month in DC. We have decided to have an Honoring of Native Lives on
November 3rd instead of a commemoration. We still need more participants.
Please read this letter and let us know if you can be in DC on the 3rd to
October 6, 1999
We are quickly approaching the November 1999 Leonard Peltier Freedom Month
campaign in Washington DC. So far we are very pleased with the response and
support that has been coming in nationwide. Enclosed is the preliminary
calendar for the month.
You will see that Honoring Native Lives is scheduled on November 3rd. We
need everyone who signed up for the reenactment of the Wounded Knee Massacre
to be in Washington DC on the 3rd if at all possible. The LPDC and our
advisory council have been trying to come up with a way that we could
publicize the many, many, unjustified losses of Native lives while being
very careful to respect and honor the families and friends of those who
died. Here is what we came up with. We have invited descendants of the
people killed during the Wounded Knee massacre, Wounded Knee II veterans,
and survivors of the reign of terror to partake in a ceremony and to speak
in honor of those who gave their lives for their people. This will be
followed by a short play of Wounded Knee II, which will be performed in the
square. Now, here is where you come in. . . we need 64 people to hold signs
that each have a picture and the name of reign of terror victims. We will
hold an hour of silence for the victims while everyone stands holding the
signs. If possible, we will then form into a procession and add the names,
one by one, onto a model memorial wall. Through out the rest of the month
others will add names of their loved ones to the wall as well. We have
decided not to organize Civil Disobedience during this day.
Please make every effort to come early for the November 1st opening because
this is the day we will need the strongest show of support. All
participants of the November 3rd event can stay in a nearby church, which
will be available from the 31st until the 3rd. We should meet the evening
before hand to go over the November 3rd program. Please confirm your
attendance by returning the bottom of this letter. We still need more
people for the November 3rd activities. You can copy this letter and
encourage others to come and participate. Please respond as soon as
possible. Thank you again and we will see you soon!
Name______________________________ Phone #____________________
___Yes, I will be in DC for November 3rd
___Yes, I can meet on November 2nd to go over the program
___Yes, I will need a place to sleep
It's 1999, why is Leonard Peltier still in prison???
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044
CNN will play a special on
Leonard Peltier--Oct 10
Date: Mon., 4 Oct 1999 14:59:28 -0500
Dear Peltier supporters,
CNN will be airing a new special on Leonard Peltier on
Sunday, October10th at 9pm eastern time and it will replay at
It's the first time in quite a while since any one has done a
Check it out!!!!
November 1999 Leonard
Peltier Freedom Month in
Washington DC Lodging...Click Here
Saturday, October 30
Freedom Run begins (9:00am) in Philadelphia at the
Monday, November 1
OPENING--Leonard Peltier Freedom Month: Survivors of
the reign of terror,
members of the Peltier family, Congressional reps,
cultural activities, and
Wednesday, November 3
Public honoring of Native Lives. A symbolic and
spiritual honoring for
those who gave their lives during Wounded Knee I,
Wounded Knee II, and the
reign of terror on Pine Ridge--Descendants from
Wounded Knee I, Veterans
from Wounded Knee II, and survivors of the Reign of
Rosaline Jumping Bull will speak.
Saturday, November 6
Solidarity with the peoples of Guatemala. Day of the
Dead ceremonies in
honor of all Indigenous Peoples killed since the
arrival of Columbus.
Sunday, November 7
Solidarity with the peoples of Mexico. Day of the
Dead ceremonies in honor of all Indigenous Peoples killed
since the arrival of
Monday, November 8, 1999
Big Mountain Solidarity
Roberta Blackgoat and grandchildren
Tuesday, November 9, 1999
Youth For Justice--Hip-Hop, punk, and
Shadow Wise and more TBA--speakers--OJ from the
Gustafsen Lake stand off
and more TBA
Wednesday, November 10, 1999
Honoring for Ingrid Washinawatok, Laheenae Gay, and
Thursday, November 11, 1999
Veterans for Justice
Sponsored by Veterans for Peace--speakers, reading by
James Rayle and more
Saturday, November 13
Free all political prisoners, stop racism, stop
police brutality, respect
the earth, dignity and respect for all life---Come
listen to speakers from
different organizations and movements who are coming
together to help gain
freedom for Leonard Peltier
Sunday, November 14
Reading from Leonard Peltier's new book, My Life Is
My Sun Dance--Suzanne
Harjo, Harvey Arden, and more TBA
Monday, November 15
Arvol Looking Horse, Bear Lincoln, Billy Tayac,
Suzanne Harjo and many more
(TBA) will come to talk about the history and current
issues facing Native Peoples
Wednesday, November 17
Victims of FBI abuses
Come here testimony from people from all walks of
life who will retell their
harrowing experiences with FBI abuses and
Thursday, November 18
Still No Justice
Thousands of petitions and letters of support to be
delivered to the Clinton
Sunday, November 21
People of Faith for Justice
Churches show support for Leonard Peltier
Tuesday, November 23
Women for Justice
The Indigenous Women's Network, Rigoberta Menchu, the
Jennifer Harbury, Jean Day, Pemina Yellow Bird, and
more (TBA) come to speak
and show support for Leonard Peltier
Wednesday, November 24
Gathering of the Drums--Call to all Indigenous drum
Thursday, November 25
CLOSING--Leonard Peltier Freedom Month--Vigil and
closing prayer ceremony
5pm-8pm--come thank the fasters and show solidarity
"Thanksgiving" holiday. (Meanwhile--Plymouth
Rock--Day of Mourning
sponsored by United American Indians of New England.)
NOTE: The dates listed inside of the asterisks are
important days to mobilize
crowds. If you are able to come to DC during any
part of November, please
include one or more of these days in your schedule if
possible, and bring
your friends. Every day of November will include a
morning prayer ceremony
lead by David Chief, drumming, singing, and various
activities. Every evening a candlelight vigil will
be held unless other
activities are being conducted at night. All
activities listed will be
conducted at the Ellipse Park (behind the White
House), the Lafayette Park
(In front of the White House), or at an indoor
location close by. We will
release the times, speakers, exact locations and
performers as plans
develop-contact the LPDC for any questions or for
Alcohol and drugs will be prohibited.
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044
Leonard Peltier Freedom
A special call to all American Indians of all Nations:
Help in making a strong statement/showing of native representation by
joining the ceremonial runners on this journey from Philadelphia
to Washington, D.C.!
The "RUN FOR LEONARD," sponsored by the International LPDC Office, will
be the kick-off for events planned throughout the month of November.
Native American ceremonial runners, along with both
native and non-native supporters, will begin their two-day run
on Saturday, October
30th at the historical Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
The morning schedule is as follows:
7:00 a.m. - Prayer Ceremonies and Speech
9:00 a.m. - Drumming with the "Sovereign Nations"
10:00 a.m. - Run Begins
Following the speech, prayer and drumming session at
the Liberty Bell, the runners will begin their journey to the White
House in Washington D.C. On Monday, November 1st, they will be met by
all local supporters, and religious leaders of high standing, such as
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, together with a Native American religious
leader of equal standing. Together they will welcome the runners,
and officially open Leonard Peltier Freedom Month.
Many more native runners are requested to join the
"Run for Leonard" to make this the strongest showing of native support
ever for Leonard.
Please pass this information on to as many native lists, organizations
and Native American school and university groups as possible. For
additional information, please contact Janet Cavallo, LPDC designated
"Run for Leonard" coordinator in Philadelphia.
Contact can be made via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone:
It's 1999, why is Leonard Peltier still in prison???
Download LPDC Freedom Month Information to copy and
distribute at your
events. Available files include:
Leonard's Letter about November
Leonard Peltier Freedom Month Proposal
"Sign-Up to Help" Form
"What Can I Do" List of Suggestions
Files and other information are linked from:
Proposal: Page 1
Proposal: Page 2
Front Page or Contents
Leonard Peltier - October 1999
Leonard Peltier - November 1999
Leonard Peltier - December 1999