Leonard Peltier, Activist

Leonard Peltier -- a great-grandfather, artist, writer, & indigenous rights activist -- is a citizen of the Anishinabe and Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been unjustly imprisoned since 1976.

A participant in the American Indian Movement, he went to assist the Oglala Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the mid-70s where a tragic shoot-out occurred on June 26, 1975. Accused of the murder of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Peltier fled to Canada believing he would never receive a fair trial in the United States.

On February 6, 1976, Peltier was apprehended. The FBI knowingly presented the Canadian court with fraudulent affidavits, and Peltier was returned to the U.S. for trial.

Key witnesses were banned from testifying about FBI misconduct & testimony about the conditions and atmosphere on the Pine Ridge Reservation at the time of the shoot-out was severely restricted. Important evidence, such as conflicting ballistics reports, was ruled inadmissible. Still, the U.S. Prosecutor failed to produce a single witness who could identify Peltier as the shooter. Instead, the government tied a bullet casing found near the bodies of their agents to the alleged murder weapon, arguing that this gun had been the only one of its kind used during the shootout, and that it had belonged to Peltier.

Later, Mr. Peltier’s attorneys uncovered, in the FBI’s own documents, that more than one weapon of the type attributed to Peltier had been present at the scene and the FBI had intentionally concealed a ballistics report that showed the shell casing could not have come from the alleged murder weapon. Other troubling information emerged: the agents undoubtedly followed a red pickup truck onto the land where the shoot-out took place, not the red and white van driven by Peltier; and compelling evidence against several other suspects existed and was concealed.

At the time, however, the jury was unaware of these facts. Peltier was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He is currently imprisoned at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Leonard Peltier, Artist

Leonard Peltier’s self-taught style is an outgrowth of drawing and carving lessons he received as a child from tribal elders.

Leonard began working with pastels in 1983, proving he had talent to put what he saw on paper. His spirit began to know a freedom he had never before experienced.

Although limited by the prison environment, Mr. Peltier has emerged as a master of Indigenous Art.

Leonard’s artwork reflects his beliefs and commitment to Native American culture. It is The People’s struggle to survive and his desire to portray their cultural beauty that inspires Peltier to paint.

In 1986, Leonard suffered a stroke and lost about eighty percent of his sight in his left eye. "My eye problem has slowed me down considerably, but I am still inspired."

Leonard’s paintings are collected by such noted personalities as Oliver Stone, Peter Coyote, Jane Fonda, Val Kilmer, Michael Apted, Shep Gordon, and Oliver Shanti, as well as many other international celebrities & luminaries.

Leonard, the Writer

Doing time creates a demented darkness of my own imagination; doing time does this thing to you. But of course, you don't do time. You do without it. Or rather, time does you. Time is a cannibal that devours the flesh of your years day by day, bite by bite.

-- Leonard Peltier

Prison Writings:
My Life Is My Sun Dance

This book was written from behind the cold prison bars of Leavenworth Penitentiary by Leonard Peltier, who has been called America's Nelson Mandela. Peltier is serving two life sentences for crimes the U.S. government has admitted they can't prove were even committed by Peltier. He is considered by Amnesty International & many other humanitarian organizations to be a political prisoner.

According to prison officials, Peltier's plight has attracted the attention of luminaries such as Britain's Queen Elizabeth. In February 1999, the European Parliament approved a resolution calling for Peltier to be freed. France's former First Lady Danielle Mitterand, who is president of the French human rights organization, France Libertés, has called for the release of Leonard Peltier.

The book's editor, Harvey Arden said, "Leonard Peltier's powerful memoir, a Native American spiritual testament, will shake the conscience of the nation... & the world. It's a flaming arrow aimed at the circled wagons of American injustice."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls it: "A deeply moving & very disturbing story of a gross miscarriage of justice & an eloquent cri de coeur of Native Americans for redress & to be regarded as human beings with inalienable rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution. We pray that it does not fall on deaf ears. America owes it to herself."

Leonard, the Nobel Peace Prize Candidate

Leonard Peltier Nominated for 2004 Nobel Peace Prize

Feb. 11, 2004

Last week we posted the call for support from Ward Dossche and Harvey Arden about nominating Leonard for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. The deadline for the 2004 NPP nominations was February 1st. But even though there was little time left, Ward Dossche reports that three people - a university professor from Texas; another university professor from Belgium; and Bart Staes, member of the European Parliament and IPF signatory - sent in their nominations in time.


Leonard Peltier Nominated for 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

On April 3rd, 2007, the LPDC has received confirmation of Leonard Peltier's official nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. This year 181 candidates have been registered. The name of the Prize recipient for 2007 will be announced in mid-October.

We want to thank the people who nominated Leonard for this prestigious award.
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

We ask that supporters NOT send letters of support or recommendation to
the Nobel Peace Prize Committee as only selected individuals can nominate for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Leonard’s Human Rights Achievements

Advocate of peaceful resolution of all issues that deal with Native Americans; always taking a non-violent approach and argued for respect for rights of others.

Has helped several prisoners rehabilitate themselves by advocating drug and alcohol free life styles while encouraging pride and knowledge in their cultures and traditions.

Has been key in getting people from different tribes, with a history of animosity, to come together in peace.

Has worked with Dr. Steward Selkin of New York (ear, nose, and throat specialist) on efforts to restructure health delivery systems on reservations. A pilot program on Rosebud was undertaken in order to document needs and requirements for delivery and care. This is known as the Leonard Peltier Health Care Reform Package, and the ultimate intent is to fundamentally alter health care delivery on reservations throughout the US. Substance abuse programs are an important part of this program.

Has worked with professor Jeffery Timmons on a job creation/job training program to stimulate reservation based economics and investments in Native American business enterprises.

Also worked with Professor Timmons on a youth entrepreneur program for reservation kids to teach them to learn how to establish and run their own businesses.

In 1992 he established a scholarship at New York University for Native American students seeking law degrees.

Instrumental in the establishment and funding of a Washington (state) Native American newspaper by and for Native young people.

Has been the sponsoring father of two children in Childreach, one in El Salvador, and the other in Guatemala.

Has worked to have prisoners’ artwork displayed around the country and the world in art galleries in hopes of starting art programs for prisoners and increasing their self-confidence.

Has sponsored several clothing and toy drives for reservations.

Distributes to Head Start and halfway houses, as well as women’s centers.

Every year he has sponsored a Christmas gift drive for the children of Pine Ridge, SD. Organized and emergency food drive for the people of Pohlo, Mexico in response to the Acteal Massacre.

Serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children.

Donates his artwork to several human rights and social welfare organizations in order to help them raise funds. This most recently includes the ACLU, Trail of Hope (a Native American conference dealing with drug and alcohol addiction), World Peace and Prayer Day, the First Nation Student Association, and the Buffalo Trust Fund.

By donating his paintings to the Leonard Peltier Charitable Foundation, he was able to supply computers and educational supplies such as books and encyclopedias to libraries and families on Pine Ridge.

By donating his paintings to the LPCF, he was also able to raise substantial supplies for the people of Pine Ridge after last year’s devastating tornado hit and caused a multitude of damage on the reservation.

He has been widely recognized for his efforts and has won several human rights awards, including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award, Humanist of the Year Award, and the International Human Rights Prize.

Leonard, Presidential Candidate

Political Prisoner on the Ballot in California

Lawrence, Kansas, February 11, 2004

Kevin Shelley, Secretary of the State of California has announced that Leonard Peltier will be on the primary election ballot as a candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party's Presidential nomination.

Leonard Peltier is deemed as a political prisoner by Amnesty International and has been unjustly incarcerated for nearly 3 decades. Peltier was convicted of committing the crime of murdering two FBI agents, even though the prosecution has since admitted in open court (Oct. 15, 1985) that the government did not have proof of who killed their agents. The courts have also admitted (10th Circuit Court of Appeals) that "the prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned; they withheld evidence, coerced testimony. These facts are undisputed".

Leonard Peltier is an advocate of peaceful resolution of all issues and has been instrumental in getting people from different tribes with a history of animosity to come together in peace. He has piloted the Leonard Peltier Health Care Reform Package whose intent is to fundamentally alter health care delivery on reservations throughout the US. Peltier has established a scholarship at NYU for Native Students seeking law degrees, has implemented job creation/job training programs and is the sponsoring father of two children in ChildReach. Peltier has sponsored clothing, emergency food and toy drives and distributes to Head Start, halfway houses and women's centers. Peltier serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children and donates his artwork to several human rights and social welfare organizations, including the Leonard Peltier Charitable Foundation. He has been widely recognized for his efforts and has won several human rights awards, including the North Star- Frederick Douglas Award; Humanist of the Year Award and most recently, is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. Peltier's choice as Vice-President is Barry Bachrach, lead counsel for Peltier. Mr. Bachrach is a Litigation Partner with extensive experience in managing and handling a wide variety of litigation. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maine, School of Law, has authored several legal publications and is currently co-authoring a book about the Massachusetts Constitution. Bachrach has bar admissions in the states of Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota and in the United Claims Court, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

Mr. Bachrach has been with the Defense Committee for 3 years and believes that Leonard's campaign will offer hope to the oppressed, bringing back the principles that this country was founded upon, regaining the soul that this country has lost. Bachrach believes that Native Americans are the foundation of this country, spiritual people who cherish the earth, not strive to own it.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse