So much time has passed that many Americans have forgotten, if they ever knew, what happened to an American Indian named Leonard Peltier, who has spent more than 40 years confined in various federal penitentiaries. This summer, a group of his family members and friends are traveling the country in an attempt to salvage what remains of his life, and to remind us all that no statute of limitations pertains to the application of justice.
Peltier’s ordeal began when two FBI agents, Ron Williams and Jack Coler, were shot to death on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. No one familiar with the details of the case believes that Leonard committed the murders, and Peter Matthiessen explored this miscarriage of justice in his 1983 book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, called Matthiessen’s book “the first solidly documented account of the U.S. government’s renewed assault upon American Indians that began in the 1970s.”