Leonard Peltier: The Humanitarian
Despite his imprisonment, which poses numerous barriers, Mr. Peltier has made remarkable contributions to humanitarian and charitable causes.
Leonard Peltier has played a key role in getting people from different tribes, with a history of animosity, to come together in peace. He advocates for peaceful resolution of all issues that deal with Native Americans and respect for the rights of others.
Leonard Peltier has worked with Dr. Steward Selkin on a pilot program on the Rosebud Reservation, the Leonard Peltier Health Care Reform Package, to document needs and requirements for delivery and care. The ultimate intent of the program is to fundamentally alter health care delivery on reservations throughout the U.S.
He has worked with Professor Jeffery Timmons on a program to stimulate reservation-based economics and investments in Native American business enterprises, including a component to teach business ownership and operation to the young people of First Nations.
In 1992, Leonard Peltier established a scholarship at New York University for Native American students seeking law degrees. He also was instrumental in the establishment and funding of a Native American newspaper by and for Native young people in Washington State. In addition to having raised two of his grandchildren from prison, Leonard Peltier has been a sponsoring father of two children through ChildReach, one in El Salvador and the other in Guatemala. Every year, he sponsors a Christmas gift drive for the children of Pine Ridge. Peltier also serves on the Board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children.
Leonard Peltier organized an emergency food drive for the people of Pohlo, Mexico, in response to the Acteal Massacre. He also frequently contributes to Head Start programs and domestic violence shelters to help address funding shortfalls.
Peltier has helped several Indian prisoners rehabilitate themselves by advocating a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle while encouraging pride and knowledge in their culture and traditions. He also has worked to develop prisoner art programs thereby increasing prisoners’ self-confidence.
Leonard Peltier donates his artwork to several human rights and social welfare organizations to help them raise funds. Most recently, recipients have included the American Civil Liberties Union; 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.
In March 2010, Peltier organized an art benefit on behalf of earthquake victims in Haiti.
Leonard Peltier has been widely recognized for his humanitarian works, winning honors including but not limited to:
1986 Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize;
1993 North Star Frederick Douglas Award;
2003 Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year Award;
2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement;
2009 First Red Nation Humanitarian Award;
2010 Kwame Ture Lifetime Achievement Award;
2010 Fighters for Justice Award; and
2011 Mario Benedetti Foundation (Uruguay) – First International Human Rights Prize.
In 2009, for the sixth consecutive year, Leonard Peltier also was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.