Message to National Day of Mourning 2020 from Leonard Peltier
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For more information about the case of Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, and to find out how you can support, please go to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website.
Greetings my relatives, friends, loved ones, and supporters.
First of all, I want to thank you for the privilege of being allowed to express my feelings about this “Day of Mourning” as we call it, and “Day of Thanksgiving” as the rest of the US calls it. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words to express all the thoughts I have going on in my head after 45 years of imprisonment.
I do want to express my appreciation for our ancestors before us, who fought so hard that we would live today. I want to express my feelings of remembrance for the ones who were overpowered by the weapons of war coming from Europe and the pandemics they faced. Though we have been attacked by the invaders from Europe, over and over in every way possible, and everything that has been done to destroy us, our culture, and traditions, we still survived until today because we are an expression of the Creator’s Will and an expression of the Creator’s Truth. We are a manifestation of that truth, that all mankind should live within the boundaries of those laws.
There is nothing that came from Europe that has made this portion of the Earth a better place to live, but like all nature, we have survived, and nature continues to survive, though mankind is on the edge of destroying itself. The truths that our people spoke of, the need to live in harmony with each other, the Creator, the Mother Earth, and respect one another’s’ approach to spirituality, when expressed by non-Indians becomes a sensation around the world. We must continue to speak our truth, to live our truth, and to support one another, for there lies our survival. The most powerful weapons that we can obtain is knowledge of truth and love for one another, and the practice of that truth and love.
We must unite and work together every chance we can and embrace all others who are of like-mind and willing to work to correct this worldwide pandemic of greed and selfishness that has infected the whole earth and mankind.
On this Day of Mourning, let us again remember our relatives before us, who fought every challenge imaginable that we might survive, and in our prayers say “Thanks for not giving up. Thanks for giving your lives that we might live.” And to all of you out there, I want to say thanks for not giving up on me and my quest for freedom. May the Creator bless you in every way. You brother always, in all ways.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and Resistance,
Statement of Leonard Peltier to National Day of Mourning
November 27, 2014, Plymouth, MA
Greetings my Relatives, Friends, & Supporters:
I was thinking about the national holiday “Thanksgiving” the other day. I won’t even go into what a horrible shame this American holiday is based on. Instead, I will just let it remind me of the common bond I have with all my brothers and sisters of the Earth. Even if Thanksgiving, the holiday, is based on an incorrect portrayal of history. The concept of being Thankful, is a universal truth. I mean, let’s face it, being thankful/grateful has been part of Indian Nations much longer than the invention of a holiday.
I admit there are days in here when I find it very hard to be thankful, but it does not take much to bring it back for me. Most days, I get cards and letters from people all over the world, sometimes I can even smell the soil, the pines, and sometimes even fry bread in the paper that is sent to me. I hear stories of your lives, your troubles, your children, your jobs. oh there is some word for what I am trying to say but I don’t remember it, but I get a sense of life through all of you, and I am thankful for that. I often want to reach out and help you sometimes. I would love to come work on your cars or help you build a sweat lodge, or even just mow the lawn. I miss helping people and I hate asking for help, which it seems, is all I do.
In here, I am able to focus on the simple things in life. You have no idea how cool it is to just get a new pair of socks. In the last few months I have really been feeling my age, and I am so very thankful for all the support you have all given me. I won’t lie, it has been a rough time lately, but I am hopeful that is changing.
My people have always had a deep and connected relationship with the Sun, and I realized the other day just how much I miss the Sun. When I had the Sun’s light upon me, I felt stronger. These walls hold out the Sun’s energy, and it weakens me.
When you miss something, it is easier to be thankful for things you do have.
My friend and Spiritual advisor, Lenny Foster, visited me recently, and he reminded me of some basic things I have to be thankful for. I have watched him age over all these years too, and I am thankful for him and his wisdom. He sang with me and prayed with me, and I felt a bit of the Sun again.
I guess my point is, that we can find the things we need in places we may not expect.
I can always pray, this can never be taken away from me, and through that prayer, I can keep the Sun and hope alive.
And so, on this day, “ Thanksgiving” I will choose to be thankful and not to celebrate tyranny.
I also want to pray with and for you.
I pray for each and every one of you, whether you support me or you do not.
I pray that your lives will be full of meaning and you will find new ways to learn.
I pray for your strength and that you will always stand up for the things you know are right.
I pray that each one of you will find a way to protect our Mother Earth, she is crying out for us to hear her.
I pray that you will listen to you inner wisdom and let it guide you to make choices that will help each other, and that you will be examples for those still learning their way in this life.
I pray that you will be present with the moments you have, enjoy the simple things in life— like the Sun, The Dirt, The Air, The Water, and that you would protect them as you would your own children.
I pray that you will look for opportunities to lift up your sisters and brothers and not to bring them down.
I pray that you will grow and enjoy good natural foods.
I pray for you to savor the attention of your loved ones.
I pray for you to build productive bridges of peace with those you oppose.
I pray that when others make bad choices you help them find positive solutions.
I pray for understanding in times of misunderstanding…….
And yes, I pray very deeply and honestly that I can go home for a little while before I cross over to the Spirit World.
I am with you always, and I feel your prayers too. I am always grateful for your support, your love, your friendship, your letters and the contact you give me with LIFE.
It is harder for me to physically see well enough to write letters these days, so please forgive me if I don’t write you back. It is not that I don’t want to. Know that I am often sitting and thinking of you, and being thankful for all of you.
Your old, thankful friend, and brother.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Letter from Leonard Peltier on the 28th year (Feb. 6, 2004) of his incarceration January 23, 2004
Hau Kola, Hello my friends, my relatives:
You can never imagine the heartfelt comfort it brings to know you're not forgotten in prison. This is my 28th year, and I've seen others come and go and return again. I can't help but feel a great sorrow for many of these young men who keep coming back for one reason or another; most of which are alcohol related offenses. So much has changed since I came here and yet, in many ways, it's still the same.
The government, under the pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word "liberated" loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view their use of the words "collateral damage" when they kill innocent men, women, and children.
They describe people defending their homeland as terrorists, savages and hostiles, and accuse us of being aggressors. We have never fought a battle or war that was not on our own land; we never fired the first shot ... ever. My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it's far too late - see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. Your own treaty, the one between yourselves and the government, is being violated daily; this treaty is commonly known as the Constitution.
With us, they started a little at a time, encroaching on our rights until we had none at all. It will be the same for the Constitution; this is not conjecture, but fact. We are not embattled with the color of man, but with the weakness of man, a mindset that lusts for power and wealth at the expense of life.
Men of all colors, cultures and religions must stand together to oppose the genocidal policies that face us all as the corporate world seeks to enslave all, and pit one nation against another.
If you avoid breaking laws and do what you're told and ignore the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden - you probably won't be bothered. If you try to right what is wrong, however, you will surely meet great opposition and run the risk of imprisonment or death.
I am a Sun Dancer. I took a vow for my people. I chose to seek the Creator's will and to follow it to the best of my ability. I WILL NOT STAND DOWN FROM THAT VOW. I will continue to speak, write and organize until Grandfather himself quiets my life. If I can do this in prison, I have no doubt you can do much better from where you stand.
I encourage you to do your best, be kind to one another, seek harmony and balance with all natural life, enjoy what freedom you have left, and most of all, never, never give up.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Statement from behind the prison walls
written by Leonard Peltier
for the occasion of the 33rd National Day of Mourning, 2002
Greetings Brothers and Sisters:
The first thing I want to do is to say "thank you" to the
organizers of this important and historical national event. I know of the
struggles and sacrifices you have had to make to keep this event alive. Your
sacrifice and persistence makes the world a little more aware of us, and our
struggles, which continue to this day. I also want to thank those who traveled
here to stand alongside us in solidarity. And lastly I want to "thank you" ALL
for being the kind of human beings that care enough to take action and who are
willing to make a sacrifice to ensure that justice applies to all
It is a great honor for me to once again be a part of a gathering
such as yours. As an Indigenous person I know first hand what it means to be
unwelcome on my own soil. I know first hand of the oppressors' mighty vengeance
against those who would take a stand and question their laws. I fought for and
protected my people from a government that wanted us dead or assimilated. My
only crime is that I did dare to take a stand against what was and still is
So as you gather here today, I remind you once again to encourage
each other in this continuing struggle for justice as you encourage me with your
letters and your love. For without your encouragement I would not be able to go
on. Your love and encouragement has kept me going through the times when I
didn't want to care.
Now it's my turn to encourage you to stay strong when
you feel that there is no hope or that you're too tired to continue. You must
always remember those who came before us and how they struggled. Remember the
teachings handed down to us from generation to generation. Remember all those
who are imprisoned because they dared to stand up and challenge oppressive
government policies and the continuing injustices we see today.
the distance between us I am here with you today as I have been in the past. And
I once again thank you for allowing me to participate in this important and
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Statement of Leonard Peltier to National Day of Mourning
11/26/98, Plymouth, Mass.
Greetings, Friends and Supporters.
Well, here we go with another holiday that America loves to celebrate, Thanksgiving Day. I know this has been said numerous times by many Native people of this country, but it is just not a day for many of us to celebrate. Although some things have improved on some reservations, there are an overwhelming number of us that have nothing to celebrate. These are the people who still have my concern, my hope and my love that things will get better. I'm talking about the people of Big Mountain, some of whom have already received their eviction notices. It's about the Western Shoshone, about the people all over this continent who are fighting for their treaty rights and sovereignty. It's about the people in Chiapas, the people in Central and South America who are being tortured and slaughtered every day. It is about the people whose stories we do not hear. The people who are resisting by simply surviving the "third world" conditions that they live under in the wealthiest nation on Earth.
As you gather today at this historic spot, remember those who struggled and gave their lives before you. Remember those who are in prison and those who are being tortured and denigrated today. Remember those who gave you the teachings that were handed down generation to generation. Remember as you continue the struggle for justice and equality in this land that is ours to caretake.
We need to reach out to the youth and embrace and encourage them to follow in our footsteps in order to continue the struggle.
We are losing part of a generation of our young people to drugs and alcohol and consumerism. My time on this Earth is rapidly passing by and the young people must step in mine and the shoes of others who have fought this long hard struggle. I encourage and challenge you to educate yourself and your children in social concerns and the politics of the world. We have to remember that only true unity of all people will allow us to be successful and victorious in effecting change.
I also want to thank all of you who continue to sacrifice and work for my freedom. It is through your love and support that I make it through the hard times. And there have been many and I'm sure more to come.
Before I end, I ask you to remember our teachings. Thanksgiving is every day. Wake up and thank the Creator for a new day every day.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,