The following slightly edited statement from imprisoned political prisoner Leonard Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) was read by Herbert Waters IV (Wampanoag) on Nov. 24, 2022. See whoisleonardpeltier.info/ for more information.
Greetings my relatives, friends, loved ones and supporters.
First, I want to say how deeply grateful I am that you would want to hear what I have to say.
It is an honor to be with you in spirit, though I am far away. Being my age and having spent these many years in prison plays on your heart to the nth degree. I am here because I wanted to make a difference for our people, and I want to encourage others to do the same.
My heart has not changed, and my intentions have not changed. The love and faith I have in our future generations has not changed.
All the world now faces the same challenges that our people foretold, regarding climate damage being caused by people who take more than they need, dismissing the teachings of our fathers and the knowledge of countless generations living upon the Earth in harmony.
I may sound a bit dramatic and sensitive; but after all these years and the 78 journeys around the sun, I often feel and think that I should speak my mind and heart to whomever I can whenever I can, because at my age, you never know if you are going to live another 20 years or 20 minutes.
Our people have been through a lot; generations have been imprisoned, beaten, murdered, dispossessed of our lands, and they fought so we might live.
We are proud of our ancestors. I have tried to make the best of my time upon the Earth, in my given circumstances. To say the least, this has not been an enjoyable life journey, but I am proud to have been given a chance to stand for our people. I encourage you to do the same.
I am not a speaker, but I have spoken; I am not a leader, but I have led. Having said this, knowing what I know now, feeling what I’ve felt, seeing what I’ve seen and hearing what I have heard, I would do it all over again. For as our ancestors loved a future for us, I love all people who have walked upon this Earth. I recognize her as the greatest manifestation of the Creator, and she should be recognized as such.
On this day of “mourning,” I encourage you, with a hopeful heart, to continue to gather and have ceremony in remembrance of all our people, especially those who have given their lives so that we might live.
Each of you has within you the potential to make a difference in the world. Each one of you has the opportunity and ability to do one act of kindness to someone in need and one act to make the Earth a better place for all life.
I, with the help of others, have started a Food Forest Movement. We encourage all people throughout the Earth to plant at least one fruit-bearing tree, so that the animals and all creatures of the Earth will have healthier food, better air and cleaner water.
Forgive me if I have said too much or too little. Time in this place is often irrelevant to the task at hand. May the Creator bless you, your families and all our peoples of like mind.
Peace, love and blessings,
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,