rn: Hopes for Peltier fading but not gone


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

I realize it is probably too late to still hope Clinton might grant Clemency
for Peltier. But I received by mail an appeal written by Walt Taylor, author
of a very good book called _Waging Peace_ and I want to share most of it
with you. Even if Peltier dies in prison, having appeals such as this one
accessible to people will help give meaning to Peltier's suffering. 

Dec. 25, 2000

Dear Friends of peace & human rights,

The only thing I want for Christmas is a grant of Executive Clemency by
president William J. Clinton for Leonard Peltier on December 29, 2000 - or
whatever date the President of the United States chooses as an appropriate
time to announce a long overdue release for an aboriginal man who has
already been tortured for 25 years in US Federal prison, allegedly for
shooting two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - a crime that he
actually did _NOT_ commit. His extradition from Canada was accomplished when
Myrtle Poor Bear signed three affidavits saying that she was his girlfriend
and "saw" him do the shooting. She did not even know him and never saw him
shoot anyone, but FBI agents threatened her with death (like Anna Mae
Aquash!) if she did not sign. Leonard's conviction in USA and his two
consecutive life sentences are equally false, totally unjustified.
December 29 will be an excellent day for President Clinton's grant of
Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier for two reasons:

(1) It will be the 110th anniversary of "The Tragedy at Wounded Knee" in
1890, an opportunity for the president to propose a mutually beneficial,
entirely new appreciation on this continent of the highly civilized quality
of  most traditional societies that were already well established here
hundreds of centuries before Christopher Columbus discovered America.

On December 29 President Clinton might wish to propose as well a new public
dedication to improving our national awareness - from an indigenous point of
view - of the _invasion_ experienced here by aboriginal people when vast
hordes of foreign newcomers suddenly  swept in with their own agendas: to
search for gold; to assume absolute control; to try many different ways
either to _eliminate_ or to _civilize_ "savage" natives; to begin taking
possession of their natural resources on which the first people of this land
absolutely depended for life; to pursue vast, rapid economic development in
arrogant ignorance & savage violation of prevailing aboriginal law and also,
among residents here, an almost universal respect for and faithful
observance of a deeply entrenched spiritual belief that the land is your
mother and you simply cannot sell, exploit or pollute your mother|

(2) Secondly, in a recent letter to President Clinton, I suggested another
reason to consider December 29 for Executive Clemency. That date is only
three days before the opening of a very special ten years. 
        "Your decision on behalf of Leonard Peltier will be an appropriate
way for your Adminnistration to express our country's interest in the
official declaration by the General Assembly of the United Nations that the
next ten years shall be the 
"Initiative for this decade of unprecedented international cooperation began
when all living Nobel peace Prize Laureates addressed their appeal to the
General Assembly of the Unitd Nations and to all member states 'for the
children of the world'.
"Leonard Peltier", I wrote, "has demonstrated patient dedication to the
peaceful, long-term well-being of all children around the world. Aboriginal
spiritual beliefs, as we understand them, require everyone to share
responsibilirty for mother earth and for all life on earth 'for the next
seven generations'.
"Leonard Peltier's thoughful new book is edited by Harvey Arden, _Prison
Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance_. The powerful ten-page preface is
important, written only a short time ago by Ramsay Clark, former Attorney
General of the United States."

Our personal friend at Kispiox in the Gitxsan First Nation in Canada, near
Hazelton, BC, is 'Wii Muk'willixw (Art Wilson). In 1996 he wrote and
illustrated _Heartbeat of the Earth: A First Nations Artist Records
Injustice & Resistance_ If you can find a copy in your library or buy or
borrow one anywhere, this book is a treasure for its brilliant aboriginal
art & brief, but complete, well informed report on Wounded Knee, Anna Mae
Aquash & Leonard Peltier. <snip> You could also look for Peter Mathiessen's
great book, _In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of leonard Peltier and
the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement_. (There is a new 1991 edition.)

I was astonished and shocked when Associated press writer Christopher Newton
reported that "hundreds of FBI agents staged an unprecedented demonstration
at the White House on Friday [December 15] protesting any presidential
clemency for an American Indian activist convicted of killing two FBI
men..." President Clinton's authority to grant clemency will expire when he
leaves office January 20. I keep in touch with Pat Benabe, Leonard peltier
Defense Committee, LPDC, Box 583, Lawrence, Kansas 66044 <•••@••.•••>.
Anyone can telephone the White House comments line (202-456-1111) to express
concern, esepcially to be counted among those who _favour_ a presidential
grant of Executive Clemency, (not one supporting the FBI lobby urging
President Clinton _not_ to release this "Indian activist"... "convicted of
killing two FBI men").
<snip> Thanks, Walt Taylor
PS from jan. I called the White House comments line. When I got an
receptionist, I asked her what happens to the comments. I also asked her why
she does this, as it turns out they are volunteers.

Asking these questions, and showing some understanding of what her work must
be like, helped to establish some kind of rapport between us.... I am sure
all she did was add my call to the "for clemency" tally, but she also showed
that she knew about this case (adding at one point that he has been in jail
for some 25 years). I hope, if nothing else, that I helped her realize I was
not a nutball calling for some of the nutty things people must call about,
nor was I just "doing my duty" and maybe I challenged her to think about the
usefulness of simply recording other people's protests, when a true
injustice is being done.
all the best, Jan