FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
04 November 2011
During its annual conference this week in Portland, Oregon, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) unanimously passed a resolution in support of freedom for Leonard Peltier.
An innocent man, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1977. Imprisoned for nearly 36 years—currently at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida—Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals—have all called for his immediate release. Widely recognized for his humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize nominee, Peltier also is an accomplished author and painter.
The NCAI has adopted resolutions on behalf of Leonard Peltier in the past. In 1999, the NCAI also supported the Assembly of First Nations in Canada in an historic joint resolution.
“It’s long past time for the healing to begin between Indigenous Nations and the U.S. government—with regard to the Peltier case, as well as other tragic incidents of the past. The NCAI is eager to work with the Obama Administration to work towards that end,” said a spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Peltier case has been examined by renowned author Peter Matthiessen (“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”) and by a documentary film produced and narrated by Robert Redford (“Incident at Oglala”). Although the courts have acknowledged evidence of government misconduct—including the coercion of witnesses, the intentional use of false testimonies, and the concealment of ballistics evidence reflecting his innocence—Peltier has been denied a new trial.
The power to commute Peltier’s sentence of two life terms rests with President Obama.
“Mr. Peltier is 67 years old and in poor health. This is the very time for renewed commitment and unity. We’re very pleased that the Indigenous Nations have taken this action on Mr. Peltier’s behalf and are actively involved in securing his freedom.”
The Peltier resolution was unanimously approved in committee on November 2 and presented in the plenary session earlier today.
Informed of the NCAI’s decision, Leonard Peltier stated, “This means so much to me. I’m grateful for the support of my People. I thank the NCAI for their efforts.”