[Nonviolenza] La biblioteca di Zorobabele. 482

Segnalazioni librarie e letture nonviolente
a cura del "Centro di ricerca per la pace, i diritti umani e la difesa della biosfera" di Viterbo
Supplemento a "La nonviolenza e' in cammino" (anno XXIII)
Direttore responsabile: Peppe Sini. Redazione: strada S. Barbara 9/E, 01100 Viterbo, tel. 0761353532, e-mail: centropacevt at gmail.com
Numero 482 del 20 giugno 2022

In questo numero:
1. Sciogliere la Nato, opporsi alla guerra, salvare le vite
2. Carol Gokee: Rise Up For Peltier Call to Action Toolkit
3. Tre lettere per Leonard Peltier
4. Michele Bollinger: Leonard Peltier and the Indian struggle for freedom (2009) (parte prima)


La Nato e' un'organizzazione terrorista e stragista: occorre scioglierla e processarne i vertici.
La guerra e' nemica dell'umanita'. Occorre abolire la guerra: e per abolire la guerra occorre abolire gli eserciti e le armi.
Salvare le vite e' il primo dovere.

[Dal comitato internazionale di difesa di Leonard Peltier ("International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee", 428-A8 Farnham St. Marshall, WI. 53559, 715.209.4453, sito: www.whoisleonardpeltier.info, e-mail: Contact at whoisleonardpeltier.info) riceviamo e diffondiamo]

Ask President Biden for the Immediate Release of Leonard Peltier!
Call to Action Briefing
There is no doubt that our criminal justice system is imperfect, and Mr. Peltier knows firsthand just how imperfect it can be.
"I call on President Biden to commute Mr. Peltier's sentence expeditiously. It is the right thing to do." - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), longest serving member of the U.S. Senate
Call to Action
Contact President Biden today!
Ask for the immediate release of Leonard Peliter
Call President Biden Today! 202.456.1111
Please note: The White House comment line is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Eastern, Tuesday through Thursday.
Important Links:
Change.org Petition: https://bit.ly/3refswl
Contact your local Representatives: https://bit.ly/housereplp
New York Times Article : Clemency for Peltier:
Guardian Article Calling for Clemency:
Click Here to Download Social Media Graphics
Please use these graphics to post on social media outlets.
RISEUpForPeltier Signs & Banner Art link here
Use images in this link above for signs and banners for art builds.
Official Hashtags
Account to Tag
@OfficialFBOP (Bureau of Prisons)
@PeltierHQ (International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee)
Sample Facebook and Instagram Post (Copy and Paste)
Leonard Peltier, Anishinaabe and Dakota, has spent over 4 decades of his life behind bars, and recently, the prison system has failed to provide him adequate care and protection against COVID-19. His story is the epitome of the systemic abuse that continues to target Indigenous people and Movement Leaders.
We call upon President Biden to show proof of his efforts toward justice and equity by granting Executive Clemency to elder movement leader Leonard Peltier.
Call the White House and demand the release of Leonard Peltier. (202) 456-1111. Say
you support the commutation of #LeonardPeltier's sentence. He's held at USP-Coleman I in FL. Register number 89637-132
Sign the online petition: https://bit.ly/3refswl
Contact your reps. Find them here: https://bit.ly/35raR
Here's what you need to know to #RiseUpForPeltier
On March 26, 2020 the Office of the Attorney General issued guidelines for the "Prioritization of Home Confinement as Appropriate in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." A release to home confinement can be an immediate measure to ensure that Mr. Peltier gets the health care that he requires while the ILPDC continues to push for the commutation of his sentence.
Mr. Peltier's home community on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota continues to plead for his return, confirming that they do not see his release as a threat to his community. Read the full letter here.
The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) is calling on the public to contact the White House and urge President Biden to take immediate action. Next, contact members of Congress and ask them to call upon the Warden at USP Coleman-1 and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, urging the immediate release of Leonard Peltier to home confinement.
It is time for Leonard Peltier to go home and be taken care of by his people. He has suffered for far too long and time is running out. Enough is enough!
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), the longest serving member of the U.S. Senate issued a statement urging President Biden to commute Leonard Peltier's sentence stating that, "His trial was so riddled with flaws that even one of the prosecutors trying him has acknowledged that Peltier was wrongfully convicted... He is exactly the kind of individual who should be considered for clemency... I have long believed that pardons and commutations are vital tools to offer clemency and relief, particularly when our criminal justice system has been contorted to propagate injustices. I call on President Biden to commute Mr. Peltier.s sentence expeditiously. It is the right thing to do."
Read the full statement here:
Sample Tweets (Copy and Paste)
Mr. Peltier's home community on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota continues to plead for his return, confirming that they do not see his release as a threat to his community. Read the full letter here:
The IPLDC is calling on the public to contact the White House and urge President Biden to take immediate action. Next, contact members of Congress and ask them to call upon the Warden at USP Coleman-1 and Bureau of Prisons Director Michal Carvajal, urging the immediate release of Leonard Peltier to home confinement.
It is time for Leonard Peltier to go home and be taken care of by his people. He has suffered for far too long and time is running out. Enough is enough.
Graphics Sharing Instructions
1. Download a graphic from one of the visual asset folders below.
2. Log on to the social media platform of your choice. Assets for Facebook,
Instagram, and Twitter have been built for this toolkit.
3. Copy and paste one of the sample posts listed below or write your own post
and include one of our RISE UP FOR PELTIER hashtags.
4. Upload the image you’ve downloaded from the visual assets folder.
5. Tag or @mention @POTUS @WHITEHOUSE and post!
For Media Inquiries, Please Contact:
Carol Gokee, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 715-209-4453
Jean Roach, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 605-415-3127
Kevin Sharp, former Federal District Court Judge & Peltier's lead attorney, 615-434-7001


I. Appello alla Presidente del Parlamento Europeo, on. Roberta Metsola: president at ep.europa.eu
Gentilissima Presidente del Parlamento Europeo,
il suo indimenticabile predecessore, il Presidente David Sassoli, si impegno' affinche' il Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America compisse un atto di clemenza che restituisse la liberta' a Leonard Peltier, l'illustre attivista nativo americano difensore dei diritti umani di tutti gli esseri umani e della Madre Terra, da 46 anni detenuto innocente nelle carceri statunitensi a seguito di un processo-farsa in cui fu assurdamente condannato per un crimine che non ha mai commesso sulla base di "prove" false e di "testimonianze" altrettante false, come successivamente ammisero i suoi stessi accusatori e giudici. Nonostante la sua innocenza sia ormai da tutti riconosciuta, Leonard Peltier continua ad essere detenuto.
Con un intervento pubblicato su twitter e una dichiarazione alla stampa di cui e' disponibile la registrazione video il Presidente Sassoli il 23 agosto 2021 espresse pubblicamente la richiesta al Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America di concedere la grazia a Leonard Peltier.
Nel suo tweet del 23 agosto 2021 il Presidente Sassoli scriveva, in italiano e in inglese:
"Inviero' una lettera alle autorita' statunitensi chiedendo clemenza per Leonard Peltier, attivista per i diritti umani dell'American Indian Movement, in carcere da 45 anni.
Spero che le autorita' accolgano il mio invito. I diritti umani vanno difesi sempre, ovunque".
"I will send a letter to the US authorities asking for clemency for Leonard Peltier. A human rights activist of the American Indian Movement, he has been imprisoned for 45 years.
I hope the authorities will take up my invitation. Human rights must be defended always, everywhere".
Gentilissima Presidente del Parlamento Europeo,
gia' nel 1994 e poi ancora nel 1999 il Parlamento Europeo delibero' risoluzioni per la liberazione di Leonard Peltier.
Qui di seguito si trascrive integralmente la Risoluzione del Parlamento Europeo dell'11 febbraio 1999 (pubblicata sulla Gazzetta ufficiale n. C 150 del 28/05/1999 pag. 0384, B4-0169, 0175, 0179 e 0199/99):
"Risoluzione sul caso di Leonard Peltier
Il Parlamento europeo,
- vista la sua risoluzione del 15 dicembre 1994 sulla grazia per Leonard Peltier (GU C 18 del 23.1.1995, pag. 183),
A. considerando il ruolo svolto da Leonard Peltier nella difesa dei diritti dei popoli indigeni,
B. considerando che Leonard Peltier e' stato condannato nel 1977 a due ergastoli dopo essere stato estradato dal Canada, benche' non vi fosse alcuna prova della sua colpevolezza,
C. considerando che Amnesty International ha ripetutamente espresso le proprie preoccupazioni circa l'equita' del processo che ha condotto alla condanna di Leonard Peltier,
D. considerando che il governo degli Stati Uniti ha ormai ammesso che gli affidavit utilizzati per arrestare e estradare Leonard Peltier dal Canada erano falsi e che il Pubblico ministero statunitense Lynn Crooks ha affermato che il governo degli Stati Uniti non aveva alcuna prova di chi aveva ucciso gli agenti,
E. considerando che dopo 23 anni trascorsi nei penitenziari federali, le condizioni di salute di Leonard Peltier si sono seriamente aggravate e che secondo il giudizio di specialisti la sua vita potrebbe essere in pericolo se non ricevera' adeguate cure mediche,
F. considerando che le autorita' penitenziarie continuano a negargli adeguate cure mediche in violazione del diritto umanitario internazionale e i suoi diritti costituzionali,
G. rilevando che Leonard Peltier ha esaurito tutte le possibilita' di appello concessegli dal diritto statunitense,
1. insiste ancora una volta affinche' venga concessa a Leonard Peltier la grazia presidenziale;
2. insiste affinche' Leonard Peltier sia trasferito in una clinica dove possa ricevere le cure mediche del caso;
3. ribadisce la sua richiesta di un'indagine sulle irregolarita' giudiziarie che hanno portato alla reclusione di Leonard Peltier;
4. incarica la sua delegazione per le relazioni con gli Stati Uniti di sollevare il caso di Leonard Peltier iscrivendolo all'ordine del giorno del prossimo incontro con i parlamentari americani;
5. incarica il suo Presidente di trasmettere la presente risoluzione al Consiglio, alla Commissione, al Congresso statunitense e al Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America".
Gentilissima Presidente del Parlamento Europeo,
la liberazione di Leonard Peltier e' stata chiesta gia' da molti anni da prestigiose istituzioni, innumerevoli associazioni democratiche, milioni di persone di tutto il mondo tra cui illustri personalita' come Nelson Mandela, madre Teresa di Calcutta, Desmond Tutu e numerosi altri Premi Nobel.
Gentilissima Presidente del Parlamento Europeo,
dia seguito all'iniziativa del Parlamento Europeo e del Presidente Sassoli, e chieda al Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America di compiere finalmente l'atto di clemenza che restituisca la liberta' a Leonard Peltier.
II. Appello al Segretario Generale delle Nazioni Unite, on. Antonio Guterres: sgcentral at un.org
Egregio Segretario Generale delle Nazioni Unite, on. Antonio Guterres,
uniamo la nostra voce a quella di quanti hanno gia' chiesto un suo intervento presso il Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America affinche' compia un atto di clemenza restituendo la liberta' a Leonard Peltier attraverso lo strumento giuridico della grazia presidenziale.
Chiediamo questo suo intervento perche' la vicenda di Leonard Peltier riguarda l'umanita' intera.
Come Lei gia' sapra', Leonard Peltier e' un illustre attivista nativo americano, generoso e coraggioso difensore dei diritti umani di tutti gli esseri umani e della Madre Terra, da 46 anni detenuto per delitti che non ha commesso.
Gli stessi suoi accusatori che ne ottennero la condanna al termine di uno scandalosissimo processo-farsa basato su cosiddette "prove" dimostratesi assolutamente false e su cosiddette "testimonianze" dimostratesi anch'esse assolutamente false, hanno successivamente riconosciuto che la condanna e la conseguente detenzione di Leonard Peltier e' ingiusta e persecutoria, insensata e disumana, ed hanno chiesto loro stessi la sua liberazione.
Eppure, nonostante che la sua innocenza sia ormai certezza condivisa dall'umanita' intera, Leonard Peltier - ormai anziano e con gravi problemi di salute - continua ad essere detenuto per delitti che non ha mai commesso.
Sicuramente ricordera' che la liberazione di Leonard Peltier e' stata chiesta da milioni di persone di tutto il mondo, tra le quali figure luminose come Nelson Mandela, madre Teresa di Calcutta, Desmond Tutu.
Ricordera' sicuramente anche che la liberazione di Leonard Peltier e' stata chiesta da innumerevoli istituzioni, tra le quali il Parlamento Europeo con ben due risoluzioni fin dagli anni '90 del secolo scorso.
Ci e' particolarmente grato ricordare anche l'iniziativa del compianto Presidente del Parlamento Europeo, on. David Sassoli, recentemente deceduto, che il 23 agosto 2021 scriveva, in italiano e in inglese:
"Inviero' una lettera alle autorita' statunitensi chiedendo clemenza per Leonard Peltier, attivista per i diritti umani dell'American Indian Movement, in carcere da 45 anni. Spero che le autorita' accolgano il mio invito. I diritti umani vanno difesi sempre, ovunque".
"I will send a letter to the US authorities asking for clemency for Leonard Peltier. A human rights activist of the American Indian Movement, he has been imprisoned for 45 years. I hope the authorities will take up my invitation. Human rights must be defended always, everywhere".
Gli sforzi di milioni di esseri umani, l'impegno di innumerevoli associazioni - tra cui in primo luogo Amnesty International -, il voto di autorevolissime istituzioni, non hanno ottenuto fin qui che Leonard Peltier venisse liberato.
Occorre evidentemente un'iniziativa ulteriore.
Sia Lei, che rappresenta l'Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite, quindi l'istituzione rappresentativa di tutti i paesi e i popoli del mondo, a promuovere questa iniziativa.
Sia Lei a chiedere al Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America di restituire la liberta' a Leonard Peltier.
III. Un invito a tutte le persone di volonta' buona, alle associazioni democratiche, alle istituzioni sollecite del bene comune dell'umanita', affinche' si adoperino per la liberazione di Leonard Peltier
Fratelli e sorelle,
a tutte e tutti chiediamo un impegno, nelle forme che riterrete adeguate, affinche' sia restituita la liberta' a Leonard Peltier.
Vi proponiamo di scrivere lettere sia direttamente al Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America, nelle cui mani e' il potere di concedere la grazia che restituisca finalmente la liberta' a Leonard Peltier, sia alle istituzioni, alle organizzazioni ed alle personalita' che riterrete possano trovare maggior ascolto da parte della Casa Bianca, sia ai mezzi d'informazione affinche' cessi il silenzio sulla vicenda e sulla testimonianza di Leonard Peltier e sulla lotta sua e dei popoli nativi in difesa dei diritti umani di tutti gli esseri umani e dell'intero mondo vivente.
Ma soprattutto vi chiediamo tre cose: di informare e coscientizzare le persone con cui siete in contatto, di voler voi stessi approfondire la conoscenza della vicenda di Leonard Peltier, di mettervi in contatto sia con lui che con il comitato internazionale di solidarieta' che lo sostiene.
L'indirizzo postale di Leonard Peltier e' nel sito dell'International Leonard Peltier Defense Committe (www.whoisleonardpeltier.info). Per contattare il comitato internazionale di solidarieta' inviare una e-mail a: contact at whoisleonardpeltier.info
Grazie di cuore per quanto vorrete fare.

[Dal sito della "International Socialist Review" (www.isreview.org), n. 67, riprendiamo questo articolo, preceduto dalla seguente nota: "This article is based on a presentation delivered Saturday, June 20, at Socialism 2009 in Chicago"]

I am here today to talk about federal prisoner number 89637-132 - man named Leonard Peltier, an innocent man who has spent more than thirty-three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In 1977, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the deaths of two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, who were killed in a gunfight on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in June 1975. Peltier's case is one of the greatest travesties of justice of modern U.S. judicial history - alongside Sacco and Vanzetti, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Leonard Peltier is one of American society's longest serving political prisoners. His prosecution and conviction were driven solely by his participation in the American Indian Movement, also known as AIM. Leonard Peltier has been a victim - time and time again - of the racism that is embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system.
But Leonard Peltier is not simply a victim. He is a fighter, writer, activist, grandfather, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was the presidential candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party in 2004. Leonard, his friends, family, and comrades have fought for real justice to be done. In the years since his conviction, millions upon millions of people around the world have come to learn of his case, agree that he is innocent, and demand his freedom. This is in part due to the famous documentary, Incident at Oglala, directed by Michael Apted and narrated by Robert Redford, and the national bestselling book that everyone from the FBI to former South Dakota governor Bill Janklow tried to block from publication - Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.
This struggle has had its ups and downs. Former President Bill Clinton - a Democrat who expanded the prison system and the death penalty - refused to grant clemency to Peltier after hundreds of FBI agents marched against it in front of the White House, saving all his pardons for his wealthy benefactors like Mark Rich. This was a painful blow to many who built momentum around Peltier's case in the 1990s - but it was a clear reflection of the Clinton presidency, which expanded the death penalty, ushered in an era of mandatory minimum sentences and zero-tolerance policies, and ended with over 2 million people incarcerated.
Following Clinton, the eight long, painful years of attacks on civil liberties by the Bush administration through the Patriot Act has rightfully led to the emergence of new cases, like the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, coming to the forefront. It also meant that cases like Peltier's were pushed to the margins of political consciousness, to some degree even among activists.
But it is critical now to rebuild momentum in the case of Leonard Peltier, to put his name back at the center of the fight for justice in this country, and to radicalize new activists around his case. It is necessary to make the case to the huge numbers of people who have pursued justice for years that the last chapter of this struggle is far from having been written. Leonard Peltier is now sixty-four years old; he has diabetes and other health problems. He was attacked and brutally beaten earlier this year. He must be freed. This struggle is not over; in fact a renewed and re-energized fight can be waged and won.
Leonard had his first full parole hearing this summer, on July 28. Hundreds of supporters of Leonard Peltier demonstrated outside as the hearing was taking place. [As the ISR goes to press, the outcome of the hearing is still undecided.] With the new Obama administration appointments to the U.S. Parole Commission, the Leonard Peltier Defense-Offense Committee (LPDOC), which includes his sister, Betty Peltier-Solano, remains optimistic about the possibility of winning Leonard's freedom. But given the history and the dynamics of this case, one thing is clear - victory is not going to be handed to us. The U.S. government went to extreme lengths to convict Peltier and to keep him in prison all these years. His conviction and incarceration are not just revenge for the deaths of two FBI agents, but a warning issued by the U.S. government to all who were part of and looked to the struggles of the 1960s for inspiration, especially the militant American Indian Movement and the antiwar, national liberation, and Black Power struggles that inspired and shaped it. To free Peltier is to vindicate what radicals have argued for years - that the real criminal of this era was the U.S. government, through its murderous FBI counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.
Going forward, it's key to understand why Leonard Peltier was wrongfully imprisoned and why AIM was met with such brutal repression. Our goal should be to use the lessons of this tragic incident to galvanize the fight to free Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners as part of a greater offensive against the criminal justice system.
The Incident at Oglala
On June 26, 1975, what became known as the "Incident at Oglala" occurred when two unmarked cars chased a red truck onto the Jumping Bull property on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Across the field from the road where the chase occurred was the compound where the Jumping Bull family lived and where AIM members and families had set up camp. When the agents - who hadn't identified themselves - then began firing on the ranch, Peltier and others, who were defending the compound, fired back, not knowing who the men were or what they wanted.
Within minutes, more than 150 FBI SWAT team members, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police, and the Oglala Sioux tribal government's armed squads known as GOONs had surrounded the ranch. The quick response has led many to believe that the incident was a deliberate provocation by the FBI. Both FBI agents and one Lakota man, Joe Killsright Stuntz, were killed. No one has ever been convicted of Joe Stuntz's death. In fact, only one major newspaper at the time of the incident even mentioned it. The largest FBI manhunt in history followed.
Leonard Peltier had two co-defendants, Bob Robideau1 and Dino Butler, who were tried and found not guilty after a vigorous defense effort by the radical lawyer William Kunstler. Their trial was a huge embarrassment to the federal prosecutor, not to mention the FBI. They decided to go after Peltier, who had escaped to Canada, with a vengeance. The U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to a fair trial. But this is far from what Leonard Peltier got. In this trial, the defense was not allowed to present most of the evidence that prompted the jury in the first trial to acquit Butler and Robideau, and the prosecution presented fabricated evidence and coerced testimony against Peltier.
The litany of offenses committed by the government against Peltier is lengthy. The government lied, cheated, and threw the Constitution out the window to ensure a conviction. The U.S. government used three perjured affidavits to force Peltier's extradition from Canada. To secure these, federal officials shamelessly threatened and intimidated Myrtle Poor Bear, the source of these affidavits. Poor Bear later recanted their contents entirely. The jury at Peltier's February 1976 trial in Fargo, North Dakota, was all-white; the government used racism and fear-mongering to deliberately make the jury feel vulnerable to attack - sequestering them unnecessarily, for example. The judge, who actually had meetings with the FBI during the trial, constantly and aggressively ruled against the defense's objections, and refused to allow Peltier's attorneys to argue "self-defense" as his defense.
During the trial, the Assistant U.S. Attorney, Lynn Crooks, did not produce any witnesses who could identify Peltier as the one who killed the agents. The prosecution presented false evidence regarding the murder weapon; they held that there was only one AR-15 and it belonged to Peltier. Yet there were many AR-15 rifles found at the site. The government also withheld evidence - critical ballistic reports that showed the gun they said Peltier had been using could not be matched to the bullet casing they found near the agents who had been killed.
None of this is disputed by the U.S. government. At the appellate hearing in the 1980s, the government attorney conceded, "We had a murder, we had numerous shooters, we do not know who specifically fired what killing shots... [W]e do not know, quote unquote, who shot the agents." Though the Eighth Circuit Court at this time found that the jury in Peltier's trial might have acquitted him had the FBI not withheld certain evidence, they refused to grant him a new trial.
This is just a barebones overview of the main injustices that colored Leonard's trial. The United States of America did not fail Leonard Peltier beginning with his unfair trial in 1976. His entire life story was shaped by the treacherous treatment of indigenous people in this country at the hands of the U.S. government. He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1944, the child of Anishinabe and Lakota parents, with roots in the powerful Sioux nation that once dominated the Great Plains.
Historical background
The Civil War and the defeat of slavery in the South opened up a period of rapid industrial capitalist expansion in the United States, which was accompanied by a wave of railroad construction and the consolidation of U.S. control over the western territories it had acquired through war and conquest. The defeat by the U.S. government of the Plains Indians, and especially the Sioux, was absolutely decisive in this process.
Yet it certainly was no easy fight. As professor Ward Churchill says, Vietnam isn't the first war the U.S. lost; instead, it was the famous Oglala Sioux Chief Red Cloud's war in the late 1860s. As Dee Brown, the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, writes: "For the first time in its history the U.S. Government had negotiated a peace which conceded everything demanded by the enemy and which extracted nothing in return." The Ft. Laramie Treaty established the Great Sioux Reservation as the "the Lakota homeland - centering on the sacred Black Hills - was reserved for their exclusive use and occupancy in perpetuity." The Ft. Laramie Treaty was an established part of U.S. law - ratified by Congress on February 16, 1869. The reservation covered the entire area of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River.
But the Black Hills were rich in minerals, gold, and timber, and the white robber barons wanted it. Prospectors began violating the treaty almost right away. General George Armstrong Custer's Black Hills Expedition in 1874 opened the region to a massive gold rush. Custer's adjutant and brother-in-law, Lieutenant James Calhoun, wrote in his diary that Custer "has expressed a desire on many occasions to explore the Black Hills, believing that it would open a rich vein of wealth calculated to increase the commercial prosperity of this country."
There was money to be made - quickly. According to Matthiessen, in 1877 "George Hearst's Homestake Gold mine was established at Lead, in the northern hills; within two years, Homestake appeared on the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange], and within ten, an investment of $10,000 was worth $6 million - a million dollars more, that is, than had been offered by the commissioners [to the Lakota people] for all of the Black Hills."
The Lakota were not interested in making any deals and did not conceive of these sacred hills as something that could be bought or sold. Colonel John E. Smith noted that this was "the only portion [of their reservation] worth anything to them" and concluded that, "nothing short of their annihilation will get it from them."
This so-called "thriftless race of savages" (as the Lakota were referred to during one congressional session), under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, managed to kill George Armstrong Custer and defeat the Seventh Cavalry in the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn in July 1876. But they were unable to stop the advance of American capitalism. Both Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were eventually murdered. By the late 1800s, the U.S. had thoroughly broken the Ft. Laramie Treaty and the entire area was flooded by missionaries and mining companies. According to Indian historian Vine Deloria, "Indian landholdings were reduced from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million in 1934. Of this 48 million acres, nearly 20 million were useless for farming."
The official policy became to "civilize" Indian peoples and end their existence as separate entities by "assimilating" them into white society. The American ruling class was honest about their aims, as the Report of the Commissioner on Indian Affairs, 1889, makes clear: "The Indian must conform to the white man's ways, peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must. This civilization might not be the best possible, but it is the best the Indians can get. They cannot escape and must either conform to it or be crushed by it."
The Dawes Act of 1887 legally destroyed communal ownership of land, allowing the U.S. government to break up tribal lands into private parcels, and criminalized Indian culture and religion. Indian children were herded into brutal quasi-military boarding schools that cut their hair and strictly forbade the use of their own languages. Teddy Roosevelt - whose face was blasted into a stolen mountain now known as Mount Rushmore - celebrated the Dawes Act as "a mighty pulverizing engine to break up the tribal mass." The act set aside a limited amount of land to be divided up among individual tribal members as private plots, freeing up the rest to be declared as "surplus." In the first thirteen years of the Dawes Act, the United States took more than 28 million more acres of "surplus" Native land.
The final blow to the Lakota Sioux was the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, where 300 Lakota, mostly women and children, were slaughtered by the Seventh Cavalry and unceremoniously buried in a mass grave. By then the various bands of the Lakota were left with five small reservations as we know them today, including Pine Ridge, administered by the much-hated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). These reservations became pockets of deep despair and poverty.
The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, known as the "Indian New Deal," overturned the land privatization provisions of the Dawes Act, establishing some degree of tribal self-governance and religious freedom, and providing some meager federal funds for Indian nations to try and rebuild their land base. However, the act did nothing to restore the millions of acres of lost Indian lands, and it made Native American men eligible for the military draft. Thereafter the U.S. government did business with the tribal councils; the representatives on these councils, and their policies, were based on majority vote, even if turnout was only 15 percent, as it was in one Hopi election. Moreover, all tribal decisions were subject to the approval of the secretary of the interior.
The post-Second World War period opened up a renewed era of Indian land theft. Following Washington's emergence from the war as the world's most powerful industrial empire, U.S. corporations eyed greedily the remaining tribal lands under which lay rich deposits of coal, oil, and uranium. By the 1960s companies like Peabody Coal, Union Carbide, Chevron, Philips Uranium, and countless others had made their way onto reservations. Some were invited on by tribal councils - using bribery and pressure—to the resentment of many. But many more got there via the "termination" and "relocation" policies developed and carried out in the mid-to late-1950s.
The trend was set by Dillon S. Myer, the man who had been in charge of the Japanese internment camps during the Second World War. As head of the BIA from 1950 to 1952, Myer interfered in tribal council elections, sold Indian land without tribal consent, and supported efforts by whites to appropriate more Indian land.
Termination was a process by which the Eisenhower administration, reverting back to the policy of assimilation, terminated its relationships (including its treaty obligations) with the tribes and handed them over to local states. Between 1954 and 1960, fifteen tribes were terminated, affecting more than 40,000 Indians, who lost their tribal status. These Indians became victims of trickery, bribery, and coercion that deprived them further of what little land they had left.
The key to making termination successful (from the government's point of view) was "de-settling" the reservations-relocating Indians. Beginning in 1952, the government, preying on people's desperation on reservations, lied and pressured people to move to urban areas where they were promised jobs and housing. In order to promote these relocation programs, the U.S. government refused building permits for hospitals and schools in tribal areas, and slashed food and commodity aid to the tribes. The relocation policy created a concentration of Indians in impoverished urban neighborhoods subject to the miseries of police brutality and poverty. Many were forced by poverty to sell the allotments they had received under the Dawes Act.
But by the mid-1960s, relocation had other unintended consequences. It brought people together from different tribes, which led to a renewed interest in culture and encouraged pan-Indian consciousness. And it placed young Native Americans in the very cities, communities, and in some cases, campuses in the midst of the radical upsurge that was the 1960s.
Leonard Peltier
Each of these factors shaped Leonard Peltier's life. As a child he lived with grandparents on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota in a tiny house without water and electricity. They had barely enough to eat, working the potato fields for low pay.
In 1953, like tens of thousands of other Native American children, a big black government car came and took Leonard and other children off to the BIA boarding school in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where he was tormented, disciplined, had his hair shorn, and was sprayed with DDT.
"I consider my years at Wahpeton my first imprisonment," writes Leonard, "and it was for the same crime as all the others: being an Indian. We had to speak English. We were beaten if we were caught speaking our own language. Still, we did. We'd sneak behind the buildings, the way kids today sneak out to smoke behind the school, and we'd talk Indian to each other. I guess that's where I first became a "hardened criminal" as the FBI calls me. And you could say that my first infraction in my criminal career was speaking my own language. There's an act of violence for you!"
After surviving the BIA boarding school, Leonard was not even fifteen when he was arrested by BIA police as he and his friends were leaving the grounds of a Sun Dance, and then again a few months later for siphoning some diesel fuel from an army truck to heat his grandmother's freezing house.
It was no surprise, then, that in 1959 Leonard "relocated" to Portland to join his mother, where he worked in construction and other jobs. He even co-owned an auto body shop in Seattle, which failed as they began doing jobs for friends for free. As he recalled, "before long we got so deep into debt that we had to close the shop. My one attempt at capitalism was over, scuttled by that old Indian weakness: sharing with others. It's a practice that means we're rich as a people, but poor as individuals."
Leonard increasingly became tuned into struggles emerging around him, such as the fishing rights struggles in Washington State. "Even though I was young, I felt I could no longer ignore the Native struggle so long as one Indian was being mistreated. Like so many others who were shaken out of their submission and lethargy and indifference during the 1960s, I joined the fight for civil and human and Indian rights."
Roots of AIM
The civil rights and Black Power movements provided the backdrop to a rise of Indian militancy that grew out of and developed parallel to them.
The conditions were ripe for this kind of struggle. The movements for independence and decolonization in Africa and Asia, as well as the national liberation struggle in Vietnam, set the stage for Native Americans to challenge the policies of the U.S. government. In his book Custer Died for Your Sins, the celebrated Sioux author Vine Deloria noted that "President Lyndon Johnson talked about America's 'commitments' and President Nixon talked about Russia's failure to respect treaties. Indian people laugh themselves sick when they hear these statements." After all, to quote Howard Zinn, "The U.S. government had signed more than 400 treaties with Indians and violated every single one."
Native American political organizing in the very early 1960s consisted of moderate organizations like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) that grew less accommodating throughout the sixties - not unlike the NAACP. In 1961, a group of radicalizing students, led by Clyde Warrior, who had worked on a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) voter education project in the summer, split from NCAI and formed the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). NIYC condemned the BIA as a white colonialist institution and began discussing "Red power" in the pages of its newspaper, ABC (Americans Before Columbus.)
Throughout the 1960s a wave of smaller struggles unfolded mostly in Indian areas of major cities, and on campuses such as San Francisco State. LaNada Boyer, the first American Indian student at Berkeley, led a fight for an American Indian studies department. There were other key battles as well, namely the "fish-ins" that occurred in Washington State by local tribes demanding their traditional rights to fish for salmon and steelhead as guaranteed by treaties signed in the 1850s. Clearly there was an opening for actions on a much larger scale and that could take up bigger questions of Indian sovereignty and dignity.
The immediate spark that created the American Indian Movement began with the occupation of Alcatraz Island. In November 1969, seventy-eight people, most of them members of the group Indians of All Tribes (IAT), occupied Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. The IAT demanded title to Alcatraz and, in the interests of being fair, offered to "purchase Alcatraz for 24 dollars in glass beads and cloth... our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47 per acre the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land [through the ICC]." The Alcatraz occupation lasted for nineteen months and more than 5,600 American Indians joined the occupation - some for all eighteen months and some for just part of a day. The action was received with an outpouring of support, both political and material, and made headline news for months, though eventually the occupants were removed from the Island. A number of Indian activists, some who were later to become well known in the movement, led and participated in the occupation - for example, Richard Oakes, LaNada Boyer, Grace Thorpe, and John Trudell, and Russell Means.
The occupation, though it did not achieve its goals to establish an Indian museum and cultural center on the island, was important in that it brought the issues and concerns of American Indians to national attention. But the IAT was not able to project itself onto the national stage that its own actions had prepared.
The American Indian Movement (AIM) stepped into that role. It was founded in Minneapolis in 1968 by a group of urban Anishinabes, including Clyde Bellecourt, Mary Jane Wilson, Eddie Benton, and Dennis Banks. Clyde and Eddie actually met at the Minnesota Federal Penitentiary and organized Native Americans living in Minneapolis and St. Paul. At first, AIM organized around jobs, housing, and against police harassment. In the late 1960s, the annual household income of an American Indian family was $1,500 - one-fourth the national average. Native American life expectancy was forty-four - twenty-one years below the national average. AIM took off quickly, with chapters sprouting up across the country as they organized a series of critical, bold, and polarizing actions - until it was met with vicious government repression that culminated in Peltier's conviction and imprisonment.
Leonard Peltier first became an activist while living in Seattle, participating in the 1970 takeover of Fort Lawton, an abandoned military installation. The action was directly inspired by the Alcatraz events. Some months later Peltier joined the AIM chapter in Denver.
AIM itself drew inspiration, ideas, and tactics from the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense - this was very conscious in the minds of its leading members like Dennis Banks and Russell Means - and was comprised of Native Americans in urban areas (Minneapolis, Seattle, Cleveland, and the Bay Area) but with very strong ties to reservations. AIM had a working class core to it, though often people on the margins of the working class, such as unemployed workers, and many Vietnam War veterans. They were often armed. They had to be. South Dakota was known as the "Mississippi of the North" in part because of the extreme poverty - on the Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation the life expectancy was just forty-six years. (To this day, there is 60–80 percent unemployment and 69 percent live below the official poverty line on Pine Ridge.) But it was also called the "Mississippi of the North" because of the racist violence they faced.
Just like the victims of the Jim Crow South such as Emmitt Till, Pine Ridge had its victims of racist violence, especially in the deeply bigoted border towns that preyed on the Indian communities. One such incident - the racist murder of a Sioux in a white town near Pine Ridge - prompted AIM's first involvement in activism in the area.
In January 1972, fifty-one-year-old Raymond Yellow Thunder was brutally beaten by four white racists, taunted and humiliated, stripped down and shoved in the trunk of a car while being driven around for hours, pushed naked into an American Legion Dance Hall in Gordon, Nebraska, and then thrown out into the cold night. Afterward he went missing, only to be found dead in his car a week later.
Yellow Thunder's distraught family searched for him for a week, and at first weren't allowed to see his body. They sought assistance everywhere they could, including from police, BIA, and the tribal government, in hopes that there would be an investigation into Yellow Thunder's death, but they found none. Severt Young Bear, a nephew of Raymond's, contacted AIM.
This was AIM's first major action on a reservation. They mobilized 1,400 people, mostly Lakota of the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations - with eighty tribes represented overall - and occupied Gordon, Nebraska, shutting it down for three days. One million dollars in Oglala Sioux tribal money was transferred out of Gordon's banks. In response, the state of Nebraska, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior all agreed to investigate Yellow Thunder's death.
In January 1973, a white service station attendant known locally as "Mad Dog" stabbed and killed Wesley Bad Heart Bull. After the perpetrator was charged with involuntary manslaughter, Wesley's mother, Sarah Bad Heart Bull, turned to AIM for help. Two hundred AIM supporters showed up at a courthouse in Custer, South Dakota, for a meeting with officials. Protestors found the place swarming with police. When officials cancelled the meeting, all hell broke loose. "As Bad Heart Bull attempted to get past the crowd and into the courthouse," explains Russell Means, "police officers pushed her down the steps, using a nightstick on her throat." The incident was the signal for police to start swinging. In the melee two police cars were overturned and burned.
Dennis Banks and Russell Means were brought up on riot charges. Sarah Bad Heart Bull got a three-to-five-year sentence for rioting and served five months. Her son's murderer, in ironic contrast, received a mere two months' probation and served no time. After the riot, the U.S. attorney general assigned sixty-five federal marshals to Pine Ridge. Why such a heavy federal presence? According to Peter Matthiessen, "state and government authorities were concerned less with law and order than with the obstacle to Black Hills mining leases that AIM insistence on Indian sovereignty might represent."
However, these battles deepened AIM's connections to reservations, essentially building themselves a base of active members. Additionally, they clearly demonstrated that there was power through struggle and that people could win. They also set the stage for AIM's higher profile actions that put them in direct confrontation with the federal government.
These were followed by other spectacular AIM actions. In what was known as the Trail of Broken Treaties, a caravan of hundreds of Native Americans came to Washington to protest grievances. After being provoked and threatened by government officials and police, they occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs building. Later there came the historic Occupation of Wounded Knee.

Segnalazioni librarie e letture nonviolente
a cura del "Centro di ricerca per la pace, i diritti umani e la difesa della biosfera" di Viterbo
Supplemento a "La nonviolenza e' in cammino" (anno XXIII)
Direttore responsabile: Peppe Sini. Redazione: strada S. Barbara 9/E, 01100 Viterbo, tel. 0761353532, e-mail: centropacevt at gmail.com
Numero 482 del 20 giugno 2022
Informativa sulla privacy
E' possibile consultare l'informativa sulla privacy a questo indirizzo: https://www.peacelink.it/peacelink/informativa-privacy-nonviolenza
Per non ricevere piu' il notiziario e' sufficiente recarsi in questa pagina: https://lists.peacelink.it/sympa/signoff/nonviolenza
Per iscriversi al notiziario l'indirizzo e' https://lists.peacelink.it/sympa/subscribe/nonviolenza
L'unico indirizzo di posta elettronica utilizzabile per contattare la redazione e' centropacevt at gmail.com