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NW Regional Leonard Peltier March Statement

Statement for the 12th Annual NW Regional Leonard Peltier March and Rally

P.O. BOX 5464
TACOMA, WA 98415-0464

FEB. 5, 2005 TACOMA


There is no doubt that our world has become an increasingly dangerous place to live in. Global conflicts spread like wildfires, and their impact has even reached our homeland. It would be too simplistic to name any single reason for the problems of the world, but it is clear that the policies of the government of the U.S. hold a large share of responsibility for the condition in which the world finds itself. It is not that some who the U.S. Government confronts in violent conflict are not in fact bad people. Some are. Rather, it is the manner in which the U.S. Government defines and seeks to resolve issues that creates problems. Even when engaging in humanitarian efforts such as fighting hunger and AIDS, the criteria and processes that the U.S. Government uses create problems for many people.

Let us state, for those who believe that it is un-American to speak critically of the polices of the U.S. Government, that we do love this land and the people of this land that many have come to call America. Any land upon the face of the Earth is more than just the government that rules it. It is also the people that live there and the land itself. We love the people and that is why we struggle for their well-being, by trying to resist what harms them, such as war, racism and other forms of oppression. We love the land called America and that is why we seek to protect it from being plundered and polluted by those few who see it in their interest to do so. So, let no one believe that we who struggle for the people and the land do not love the land called America.

The problem comes down to what the politicians and the media call the interests of America. It could be said that there are two different American priorities. There are the interests of the massive corporations and the U.S. Government that have historically resulted in the use of force and intimidation in pursuit of their common
objectives. Then there are the interests of the people to live in peace and to seek fundamental well-being in their lives. The wars are not being fought in the interest of the people, but rather they are a direct extension of a generations-long policy of using might against many to further the interests of but a few. If you wish to end war and global conflict, the policies that create and perpetuate them must be

As national policy, the use of violent force in the interest of a few has its roots with Columbus, who reached the shores of what Europeans called a 'new land' -- not to meet new people and interact in peaceful harmony, but rather to seek and 'discover' more sources of riches in the interest of a few. Columbus tortured and murdered the people he found in the interest of acquiring gold, setting the stage for the conquest of the Americas in the pursuit of amassing wealth by the few. One of the first steps that must be taken in changing those policies that continue to support that one kind of interest in force in America is to acknowledge and remediate the genocide levied upon the original people of this land that took place as a direct result of the greedy
interests of a few. You cannot change a policy of greed without fully acknowledging the acts of genocide that are a fundamental consequence of that policy. It is important to point out that all the people of America are not responsible for the actions of the government and, further, that most all the people who are not of the interests of the few have at some time been abused by and in the name of those interests.

In the newspapers of the Northwest recently there have been articles about the interests of the few from an historical perspective. On the land that the State of Washington wanted to use to build new pontoons for the Hood Canal Bridge, hundreds of remains of Klallam people were found. That land was the site of the Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen that one paper stated had "stood for 1,700 years before it was leveled in the 1920s to build a sawmill." The article went on to lay out in great detail the financial costs of not using that site but by building the pontoons elsewhere, expressing clearly the priorities of the few, the U.S. corporate and governmental elite. It does seem that the State of Washington will not now build
their pontoons upon the bones of Native people, but they play this up as their great sacrifice for the Klallam people.

Not one word have they said about the great sacrifice forced to be made by the Klallam people for U.S. corporate and government interests. Not one word have they said about the crime of outright genocide in destroying a 1,700-year-old Klallam village to build a sawmill. The sacrifices made and claimed by the U.S. interests are all that are being acknowledged by those interests. Does this not sound a lot like many other news stories about U.S. interests? Is it only the U.S. Government and corporate interests that are making all the sacrifices in Iraq? It only seems so when there are no daily body counts of all the dead and maimed innocent Iraqi people.

The State of Washington held a Historical Court in the case of Chief Leschi, who was illegally hanged by U.S. interests in 1858. While it is good that a government court of any kind would acknowledge an act of murder of any Native resister -- and we do feel happy for his descendants, the court did not say anything about the policies that led to the murder of Chief Leschi. The policy of U.S. interests back then was to steal land from the indigenous people, land on which they were living, and then to force them onto land that the U.S. interests had no use for. Those Native
people who resisted were met with brute force if they did not give 'willingly', and if they fought back they were called murderers. Chief Leschi led a part of the resistance and was a part of the first "Battle of Seattle." (Though the WTO protests did also seek to resist the so-called U.S. interests, it was not the first "Battle of Seattle.") Chief Leschi was captured and put on trial twice for murder, in a case
where he had done nothing more than defend his people and the land on which they were living. In his second trial he was finally convicted and then hung.

It took 146 years to exonerate Chief Leschi; will it take that long to exonerate Leonard Peltier? Both cases are about the greed of U.S. corporate and governmental interests in conflict with Native people resisting that greed in the real interests of American people.

After a conflict between the Lakota people and the U.S. government and corporate interests a peace treaty was signed and the great Lakota reservation was created in the late 19th century. That peace treaty meant nothing to U.S. interests for they violated its terms from almost the moment it was signed. Those interests continued to steal more Lakota land wherever they found gold and other minerals that they
wanted. At the same time, they sought to destroy the Lakota way of life. U.S. interests outlawed Lakota religion and massacred the Lakota at Wounded Knee in an act of religious suppression. U.S. interests kidnapped Lakota children and placed them in internment, in schools where they were held for years away from their families, while their language and traditions were being beaten out of them. U.S. interests carried out a secret forced program of sterilization of Lakota women.
Then, in the 1920s, acting upon the interests of oil and mineral companies, the U.S. forced a 'government' entity upon the Lakota people, to be controlled by those corporate and U.S. interests.

In the late 1960s uranium was found in the northwest section of the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation. The U.S. interests wanted that uranium for their weapons of mass destruction and nuclear power plants.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that the real motivation behind both Wounded Knee II and the Oglala firefight, and much of the turmoil throughout Indian Country since
the early 1970s, was—and is—the mining companies' desire to muffle AIM and all traditional Indian people, who sought—and still seek—to protect the land, water,
and air from their thefts and depredations. In this sad and tragic age we live in, to come to the defense of Mother Earth is to be branded a criminal."
-- Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings --

The U.S. interests knew that the Lakota people would not give up any more of their land willingly, for they had already refused to take payment for the Black Hills, stolen from them for its gold. U.S. interests then set out to suppress all possible resistance to the greater theft. That led the resisters' to request the help of the
American Indian Movement (AIM). Upon a request by Lakota Elders, a stand was taken at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge reservation of the Lakota people.

In the two and a half years after what became known as Wounded Knee II
there was a 'Reign of Terror' applied to the resisters on Pine Ridge. Whole villages were shot up, people were run off the road, many Native people were wounded and over 67 of them were murdered. The Lakota people again asked AIM for help and an AIM encampment was set up. Most of the people in that encampment were from Northwest AIM. And Leonard Peltier was one.

The AIM people were under considerable oppression and lived there daily in danger from the death squad. One day two cars came speeding onto the land of their encampment, in the same manner as earlier drive-by shootings by the death squad had taken place on Pine Ridge. The AIM members there that day defended themselves from what they saw as another murderous attack. In the firefight that took place two FBI agents and one AIM member died.

Norman Zigrossi, head of the local FBI office at the time, defended the illegal actions, saying, "Indians are a conquered nation and the FBI is merely acting as a colonial police force." He went on, "When you're conquered, the people you're conquered by dictate your future."

It is clear that the attack upon the AIM encampment was planned to start a conflict to draw away resistance to the illegal signing away of Lakota land that had taken place in Washington, D.C. at that time. Also, before the firefight, hundreds of U.S. Government agents were brought on to Pine Ridge reservation, the roads leading to the AIM encampment were blocked before the firefight and local hospitals were
given notice to expect casualties.

As in the case of Chief Leschi, those Native people who stood and defended their people were branded murderers. In the first trial of two AIM members, who had been in the firefight at their encampment, the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty by reason of self-defense.

The U.S. interests then put all their efforts into convicting Leonard Peltier. They fabricated evidence, intimated witnesses and illegally changed judges, settling on one who would not allow Leonard's lawyers to present his case of self-defense. Leonard was convicted in the same type of court and with the same type of jury that had convicted Chief Leschi in his second trial.

Through appeals, Leonard's lawyers have been able to disprove the case against him to the point that the U.S. Government prosecutors have stated that they don't know what role Leonard played in the firefight -- he was just there that day and thus aided and abetted in the deaths of the agents; and since the first two AIM members were found not guilty by reason of self-defense, then Leonard has been in prison all these years for aiding and abetting an act of self-defense!

Much of our focus should be on FBI political repression, COINTELPRO and how they are connect to Leonard's case, for the FBI has been and continues to be used as the U.S. Government and corporate interests' Political Police Force.

As you read this, Leonard's lawyers struggle to get all the documents that the FBI has withheld in his case. The FBI says that they have to withhold those documents to protect national security. We need to ask whose national security needs to be protected from the truth being revealed? Surely covering up illegal actions by the FBI is not in the interest of the people of this land for their national security would be found in revealing the truth of what happened. Given that documents already received by the defense team have exposed the U.S. Government's frame-up of Leonard, to the point that the government's lawyers have had to admit that there is no evidence connecting him directly to the deaths of the FBI agents, and have shown that the FBI took illegal, aggressive actions to suppress the right of Native people to organize to air their grievances, there is no doubt that documents still withheld will show further evidence of FBI illegal actions.

Even the courts have recognized the repressive nature of the government actions against AIM and Leonard. Judge Heaney stated, "The United States Government overreacted at Wounded Knee. Instead of carefully considering the legitimate grievances of the Native Americans, the response was essentially a military one, which culminated in the deadly firefight on June 26, 1975."

And last year the Tenth Circuit Court found that, "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."

But even with this acknowledgment Leonard has been in prison for over
27 years. Leonard is not in prison based upon the laws of this land, for the courts have stated over and over again that the U.S. government has violated those laws in Leonard's case. Leonard Peltier is in prison for one reason and one reason alone, and that is because it is in the interests of the few to keep him locked up. The same interests that hung Chief Leschi, the same interests that leveled the 1,700 year old Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen and built a saw mill upon it, the same interests that massacred the Lakota at Wounded Knee, the same interests that are behind many of the wars around the world, the same interest behind the WTO, the same interests that strips you of your unemployment benefits and overtime pay, and the same interests that we all find ourselves struggling against in our common pursuit of peace and well-being. Justice for Leonard and the end to political repression by the FBI will only come from the organized spirit of solidarity of American people struggling in their true interests.

Illegal actions by the FBI should be the concern of all American people who believe in social justice, because Leonard was not -- and will not be -- the only victim of political repression. Among those that were targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO were: Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists and organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Jesse Jackson (note that the FBI also carried out intimidation of
Jackson supporters in the south when he ran for U.S. president), Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW), the National Lawyer's Guild, antinuclear weapons campaigns (SANE-Freeze), the National Council of Churches, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), antiwar organizations, the alternative press, student organizations including the National Students Association (TNSA) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), environmental, anti-racism and feminist organizations, GI organizations, socialist and communist parties, the Industrial
Workers of the World, people of color self-determination organizations such as the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, the Brown Berets, and Native organizations such as the American Indian Movement (AIM).

The political repression carried out by the FBI has never ended. It was seen this year with the FBI's intimidation of antiwar protesters who planned to protest at the national conventions of the two major political parties. Though the FBI claimed it needed more power, money and agents to deal with the threat of terrorism after 9-11, the agency still had the time, money, and forces to harass people who questioned
the war in Iraq.

And as to making connections, the infliction of war on Iraq was justified by using false documents, lies about weapons of mass destruction and sham connections to terrorists. That is the same tactic the U.S. Government used in its suppression of AIM and in its frame-up of Leonard Peltier. The government used the war in Iraq in the interest of bringing global U.S. company's huge profits, and on the Pine Ridge reservation that same government carried out its repression in the interest of U.S. energy corporations.

The Oglala People are unconquered -- and Leonard Peltier will not give up the fight for justice.

In today's world it is more important than ever to stand up to political persecution. Over the past two years the City of Tacoma has tried to stop our march and last year it tried to intimidate us with a massive show of police force. It was the support of many good people and a legal team that upheld our right to march in Tacoma.

Our annual focus for 12 years has been to hold a peaceful march in solidarity with Leonard Peltier's struggle. We will not stop marching, we will not be intimidated and we maintain the right to come out in public in support of Leonard Peltier without persecution.

We call on you to join us at our Annual Regional Tacoma March and Rally in Solidarity with Leonard Peltier, as we send the message:

We will not give up!
We will not surrender!
We will continue to stand for justice for Leonard Peltier --
for as long as it takes to set him free!

Unite with us then, in an expression of the real Interests of the American People that are peace, justice and well-being of all. What ever your struggle maybe, peace, justice, labor, environmental or how ever you seek to protect the people and Mother Earth from the interests of the few, your struggle is directly connected to the continuing struggle of Leonard Peltier. Change will take one step at a time, but in order to revoke the polices of war and greed and the forced submission of the people to the interests of a few, that change must begin here at home -- and it includes justice for Leonard Peltier.

In The Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Steve Hapy, Jr.
Arthur J. Miller




Portland Ave. Park (on Portland Ave. between E. 24th and E. Fairbanks Ave. Take Portland Ave. exit off I-5 and head east)

U.S. Federal Court House, 1717 Pacific Ave.

Program (more to be added later)
Harold Belmont: Elder, Native People's Alliance With Friends and Allies
Dorothy Ackerman: Lakota Elder, Portland, OR
Aztec Dancers
Matilaja: Yu'Pik/Yakama
Pete Sanchez: Ktunaxa (Kutenai), Drummer
Jim Page: Folk Singer/Activist
Michael One Road: AIM, Portland, OR
Bill Simmons: International Indian Treaty Council
Jeanette Bushnell: Anishinaabe
Kerwin Hemlock: Drummer
Russell Redner: AIM.
Larry Mosqueda: Olympia Movement for Justice and
Peace and Olympia CISPES.
Kii yaa tuk: East Texas Choctaw, Wildcat Community Development
Juan Jose Bocanegra: Community organizer and long time Peltier supporter.
Steve Hapy, Jr: Tacoma LPSG
Arthur J. Miller: Tacoma LPSG

FANANCIAL DONATIONS ARE GREATLY NEEDED: We need to raise money for printing fliers, posters and for our mailings. Please send donations to: Tacoma LPSG, P.O. Box 5464, Tacoma, WA 98415-0464 (make checks out to: Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group)

HELP NEED: We need supporters to pass this message on to e-mail lists, news web sites and to groups, organizations and to your friends. Also we need people to get out fliers by passing them out and/or posting them. You can either make your own flier out of the information in this message or send us a message with your address and we will mail you fliers.

Those who wish to sign up on the NWPeltierSupport e-mail list can do so by sending an e-mail to:  nwpeltiersupport-subscribe@lists.riseup.net

address: address: Tacoma LPSG, P.O. Box 5464, Tacoma, WA 98415-0464

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