Leonard Peltier’s message to National Day of Mourning

Indigenous peoples and their supporters gathered in Plymouth, Mass., on Nov. 28, the so-called “Thanksgiving” national holiday, for the annual National Day of Mourning commemoration.WW photo: Liz Green

Indigenous peoples and their supporters gathered in Plymouth, Mass., on Nov. 28, the so-called “Thanksgiving” national holiday, for the annual National Day of Mourning commemoration.
WW photo: Liz Green

Supporters of Leonard Peltier, the longest-imprisoned Native political prisoner, are campaigning hard for executive clemency for the ailing 69-year-old hero. They request solidarity messages be sent to Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, USP Coleman I, U.S. Penitentiary, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521. The following are excerpts from Peltier’s message to the 44th annual Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Mass., on Nov. 28.

Greetings,

Sometimes when I lay on my bunk and I am between sleeping and awake, for a small moment of time I am free and I am there with you.

When I think about all we have lost to this corporate world, when I think about the losses of clean water and rivers and oceans, and when I think about the losses of clean air, when I think about the losses of freedom for hardworking families that once had a father that could take care of his family with a single job but now has to work two or three jobs and the mother must work too, and the children that come home from school with their own key and have to wait the return of one of their ­parents.

When I think of these losses, when I think of the wage slaves that are being created daily all over the world in the name of progress, when I think of these losses I think … we damn sure have a good reason to mourn, but I really believe that the word “mourn” should have a different meaning for us, not something where we cry and throw our hands up and say, “WHY? WHY? WHY ME? WHY US? WHY THIS?” but something that we say, “NO MORE!” to. Something we make a vow to, renew our efforts, renew our minds, renew our directions to take back our water, take back our air, take back our forests and our mountains and valleys, restore this Mother Earth to the natural balance the Creator meant it to be.

This may sound like the ramblings of some old, 69-year-old man in prison for 38 years, but I have had a lot of time to think about these things, and when my grandchildren come to visit me, it gives me a sense of urgency for all of us to start doing something NOW!

If each one of you would take a vow to get six other people along with yourself to do at least ONE meaningful thing to restore this balance and get each one of those people to network and get six more people and let it go out from there like the branches of a tree, then together we can make a difference. We can make a difference starting today.

This day of mourning would become the morning of a new day!

If this time I have spent here in prison could produce anything of value, I pray that it would move you to become involved. … This government is violating the Constitution over and over and over. These violations started before you or I were even conceived. As some of you may know, the Constitution is a copy of the Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy law. The freedoms and respect that the law implies that we should have for one another in this nation should extend to all those outside of this realm because what is right for one man should be right for others.

These violations of human rights must stop. I know the task may seem overwhelming, and I can’t say that I have the answer for success at making a change, but I do know the answer for failure … that’s to do nothing.

So, if my imprisonment serves nothing else but to be living proof of these ­violations, then so be it, but it is a reality. Right now, it has been selective violation, but there are powers at hand that seek to inflict those violations upon everyone. A famous warrior named Emiliano Zapata from the Mexican revolution once said, “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” I could go on and on, but I suppose you get my meaning. I encourage you to be active, to stand your ground and help us recover the ground we have lost.

God, I wish I could be there with you.

I am going to close for now. Be ­thankful you have the time you have, be thankful you have each other, and give each other a hug for me.

I will see you when I see you.

Your friend,
Leonard Peltier