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am 17. Februar 2000
I haven't been able to get Leonard Peltier or his case out of my mind since reading his book. I feel committed to taking personal steps towards getting him freed, but it's hard to figure out what hasn't already been tried and stomped on by the establishment. I think the reason that the establishment refuses to use common sense or simple human decency regarding this case, is that to acknowledge the horrible crime that has been committed against this brave man is to acknowledge the fact that the words that this country was founded on are still, as they have been from the start, a great white lie. The task, it seems, is to break down the barriers of the establishment and get them to acknowledge simple truth.
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am 21. August 1999
When I first read Peter Matthiessen's book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse", my outrage at the multitude of wrongs to which Leonard Peltier has been subjected kept me up several sleepless nights. After reading "Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance", those emotions boiled over - I burned Peltier's prison number #89637-132 into an upside-down American Flag which I display not with pride, but sadness and protest. The only reason this innocent man remains incarcerated is that his tale is an embarrassment to a country that prides itself upon securing and protecting human rights and justice. Lately there has been a resurgent interest in Americans coming to grips with the innumerable wrongs our ancestors have committed against Native Americans. However, many fail to see that blatant problems continue to exist right here, right now, today, and everyday. Peltier's writings are a reminder to us all that we cannot merely apologize for the past. We must do something to correct those mistakes now and in the future.
As a medical student, hearing Leonard describe the inhumane treatment of his medical problems is abhorable. This man may very well die in jail, before President Clinton or a parole board finally grant him his freedom. I cannot say that reading his words will make your blood pressure rise like mine, but I can assure you that it will change your life. With open eyes, then you can decide whether to continue to sit silently by or speak out for the rights of a man whose jaw is nearly frozen shut.
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am 7. Juni 2000
Leonard Peltier, a Native American prisoner, paints a picture of his life in the "iron lodge", and gives us a window in to his soul. He is at times angry, mystical, and compassionate, and the images he presents are so real you can almost see and feel them for yourself. I have studied this case for many years and I say now more than ever: Free Leonard Peltier, and free him NOW.
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am 5. Juni 2000
Reading about the possibilites of a possible second American Revolution in the late 1960's, with America's cities burning and just basically complete chaos in the whole of America, a person such as myself just winces at the lost opportunities. Organizations such as the Black Panther Party had a coherent ideology that was presented in manifestos such as the "Black Panthers Speak", and "Soul on Ice". But other organizations such as The American Indian Movement, had no ideology, no fancy manifestoes to publish, and basically no purposes for organized resistance, except for the fact several million of their ancestors were slayed whether through senseless murder, like the widely doucmented massacre of hundreds of civilians at wounded knee, or Diseases, which is clearly the main reason millions of natives died meaningless deaths.
Nowhere is the strong sense of nationalism that is prevalent in the native american community made more clearer than in Peltier's prison novel. In it, he doesn't describe his transformation into a fascist or a Marxist(activities that Hitler described in Mein Kampf, and Cleaver describes in Soul on Ice), Peltier actually describes the plight of the Native American in comtemperary America. Although 95% of their race were decimated by white immigrants, they still participate in rituals that were started centuries ago, such as Pow Wows, Sun Dancing, and even Stick Gaming, heck, many of them even still speak their native language. Peltier even describes his participation with other inmates of Leavenworth in a monthly religious ritual. The most harrowing part of Peltier's book, is his description of the events surrounding his arrest and persecution by the US government. Of course, he writes the book from an obviously bias perspective, being in prison and all, his description of the events lead me to believe that with all the successes of the Civil rights movement, Racism is still the predominant ideology of white Americans, as evidenced by a past reviewers comments on Peltier's innocence. Peltier describes the "fact", that the gun which killed the two FBI agents was not the one that he was in possesion of, this "fact" was succintly presented in the PBS documentary "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse". With incredible figures such as Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela offering Peltier asylum in their countries, the idea that Peltier is not innocent of murdering two criminal FBI agents meddling in the affairs of a soverign nation, should seem laughable to any educated American. Prior to reading this book, I thought of Peltier's situation as similar to Mumia Abu-Jamal's, he could possibly be innocent, but it's not very likely, but after reading this extraordinary book, I am absolutely convinced that Peltier is innocent of any wrongdoing. Anyone who believes otherwise, is either an ignorant reactionary, or is not completely aware of the events that surrounded his persecution, and eventual martyrdom.
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am 13. Juli 1999
Having myself been at one time a skeptic of Peltier's fantastic claims, I became convinced of his innocence after poring over the considerable & incontrovertible evidence that clearly proves this man is a victim of political repression. But this book is only secondarily about how Peltier was purposely made a scapegoat by an out-of-control, Gestapo-esque FBI, and by a few unscrupulous scoundrels within Department of Justice [sic]. (That astonshing, disturbing history has been recounted elsewhere, e.g., "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" or "Agents of Repression".)
Instead, in "Prison Writings" Peltier focuses more on the continuing historical struggle of his people to be treated with dignity and equality; offers insights into the realities of contemporary Indian existence beyond the sham portrayals in popular culture; and shows how his perceptions and opinions have been molded by his own experiences, from childhood to the starkness of prison life.
To be honest, I had not expected Peltier's book to be so well written, profound, and powerful; after all, Peltier's involvement with the American Indian Movement was not that of a fiery public speaker, decision-maker, or clever stager of outrageous stunts for the media (like some of AIM's leaders). Instead, Peltier's work with AIM was characterized by his preference to quietly perform the unglamorous yet neccessary tasks to serve his people (e.g., hauling water to homes with no plumbing, making home repairs, babysitting, fixing cars, chastising teenagers to be abstinent from alcohol and drugs, chopping firewood, etc).
Yet despite his humble background and his avoid-the-limelight personality, Peltier's eloquence, wit/humor, irony, and heart-wrenching passion displayed in this book, betrays a depth of clear-thinking, maturity, and courage that is seldom seen in our world. After reading his book, it is no wonder that among all the infighting and divisions within AIM, it was Peltier who was universally trusted and respected by all those in the movement, and admired by the common people for whom he has now sacrificed most of his life to serve and protect.
From one of justice's greatest tragedies comes this powerful offering of wisdom, and an indictment of the fallacy of "The Great American Dream".
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am 21. Juni 1999
The case of Leonard Peltier is a breathtaking example of an unbelievable failure of our justice system as well as lawlessness by the FBI which was clearly intent on getting anyone by any means necessary to pay for the deaths of its two agents. In a natural, unassuming style, Peltier tells his story weaving his personal background with the events that culminated in his imprisonment. You are there at the camp on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation where the shoot-out occurred; you are there when undercover police fabricate an incident against Peltier in a Mpls bar; you are standing next to Leonard Peltier when he is surrounded by a group of racist, hate-filled cops itching to beat him to death; you are with him as he faces daily life at the mercy of sadistic guards. Most importantly, Peltier presents facts and evidence which support the view that he was essentially railroaded by a vengeful FBI. How does it feel to suffer all this and know you are innocent? Peltier reveals a spiritual strength he has gained from his suffering which helps him not only to survive this nightmare but to help others facing poverty and injustice. I wonder, though, what kind of people can insist on his guilt despite strong evidence to the contrary? What kind of people can knowingly condemn an innocent man to prison? Is it not dangerous for the rest of us that such morally corrupt people dominate our top police agency and have such power over our justice system? In light of Peltier's tragic case, it is sickening that the US can lecture others on human rights and the rule of law.
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This book is a sad but true story of the hardships that many American Indians haved faced throughout the years. Although every thing seems to be better now, there is still a scar that will last forever beacause of the injustices that were comitted against the American Indian.
S gi, Talking Leaves Native American Bookstore
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am 7. Juni 1999
I began reading this book as someone pretty well informed about the Leonard Peltier case; I knew all the facts and figures, knew of all the lies and injustices perpetrated against this soft-spoken, engaging, and strong-hearted Ojibwa-Sioux...and still my heart broke a little more with each page I read. To read this book is to realize that Leonard Peltier is not a murderer, and his imprisonment does not bring justice for slain FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. If anything, only more injustice has been done them, because there is no justice in convicting the wrong man. That says only that their "brothers" in the FBI do not care who really killed them, provided someone - someone Indian - pays for it. I knew from before that Leonard was a quietly strong man who cares deeply for his people, but in this powerful memoir he shows also his grace, his eloquence, and his tremendous capacity for forgiveness and hope. Everyone should read this book. In particular, certain higher-ups in the FBI should read this book. They already know that Leonard is not a murderer; to this point, they have not let that bother them. I challenge anyone to read this book and not feel for Leonard Peltier. To Leonard: I am a white woman, and I have never had the pleasure to meet you face to face (yet), but I say to you anyway, Mitakuye Oyasin! I am pulling for you as hard as I can, and I pray you will one day be free.
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am 10. September 1999
I started reading this book last night (September 9, 1999) and nearly made it all the way through. I finished it today at work during my breaks and lunch. It is that powerful. Coincidentally, while at work I was listening to NPR and heard an account of President Clinton's decision to grant clemency to eleven known terrorists and murderers, and all they really had to do for their freedom was promise to denounce further violence. It is quite ironic that President Clinton has had Peltier's case file on his desk for five years and has elected to keep an innocent man in prison by ignoring it. Is it possible that Peltier is now merely being punished for being an Indian in 20th century America? That may be so, especially when one considers that Peltier has been cleared of all charges against him, yet our justice (injustice?) system still refuses to swallow its pride and admit that they messed up horribly on this one. Read this book, and read "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse". If you are like me you will find yourself terribly disgusted by the crimes that have been inflicted upon Leonard Peltier.
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am 27. Juni 1999
Prison Writings; My Life is My Sun Dance by Leonard Peltier. A book written by one who has benn incarcerated for over 23 years for crimes he did not commit. A courageous man who cared for the welfare of his People, who still cares for his People. A brave man who risked his own life for his people. An honorable man, who maintains that honor in everything he does.As the old saying goes "every generation needs a Hero" and Leonard is definately one of our Hero's. Anyone and everyone who is concerned over the misjustice of our nations legal system and the continued road to extermination of our People, the forgotten minority, should stand in line to purchase this book, It is a book that is raw in emotion, pulls at your heart and leaves one in awe of his stength, courage and love he projects after all these year. He continues to soar. FREE PELTIER
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