International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Youth Activism

Perhaps Leonard Peltier has said it best:

When those of my generation heard [the truth], a light ignited within us. Speaking from our hearts, our Elders told us, is our first duty—our first obligation to ourselves and to our peoples. So, we spoke out—against oppression, injustice, the destruction of our culture, and the violation of Mother Earth. We resisted [and] we resist still because we remembered the most important lesson of all: Each of us must be a survivor.

That resistance was our first step towards reconciliation—the restoration of harmony with the Great Spirit, within ourselves, among each other, and between all of humankind.

Reconciliation—The Great Healing—begins with each and every one of us… Honor sky and earth. Look not to man-made laws for justice but to the natural laws of the Great Mystery. By that law, there will be freedom for all of us to live in peace and harmony.

We must show respect towards others but, most of all, for ourselves. Be proud. Embrace your culture and never regret being who you are—an Indian. Love yourself.

Love your people, too. Remember who you are. Remember the old ways. Teach your children and their children. Be good to one another.

And remember the Elders. The Elders of your Nations ask for your love and understanding. We are ordinary, often flawed, and may even have done you wrong in times past. Let us show you that we have become better human beings. Let us show you that we love you. I love you. My life is yours.

Love, also, the diversity of humanity. Look upon other peoples of the Earth with respect and tolerance instead of prejudice, distrust, and hatred. How else can we live as the Creator intended, as sisters and brothers, all of one human family?

We believe that all the generations can and should work together to make the world a better place. Through our outreach activities, we educate our young people about our traditions, as well as issues and challenges our Peoples face. In this way, we know our Nations’ youth will continue the struggle.

Our outreach to youth is not limited to the Indigenous Peoples, however. The United States was built on political activism and dissent. We encourage all American youth—regardless of race, ethnicity, religious or spiritual beliefs, gender, etc.—to celebrate their diversity, but also recognize their similarities and common interests. Remember the promise… With liberty and justice for all.

We invite all youth worldwide to join with us to protect Mother Earth and to ensure human rights for all peoples. As Sitting Bull said, “As individual fingers we can easily be broken, but all together we make a mighty fist.”

Together, we will survive.

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