Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
April 28, 2009
For Immediate Release:
Leonard Peltier is a Six-Time Nobel Nominee
American Indian activist and political prisoner Leonard Peltier has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the sixth consecutive year. Peltier has been an inmate in the United States federal prison system since 1976, so the fact that he has earned the distinction of a Nobel nomination every year since 2004 is especially remarkable.
Peltier’s unlawful conviction in the deaths of two FBI agents in South Dakota has long been internationally decried as one of the most blatant injustices in recent United States legal history. In the aftermath of his trial, federal prosecutors were openly excoriated for having manufactured evidence against Peltier, for having withheld exculpatory evidence, and also for having coerced witnesses into giving false testimony.
Lynn Crooks, Assistant Special Prosecutor in Peltier’s trial, admitted to a federal judge that “the government does not know who killed its agents, nor do we know what participation Leonard Peltier may have had in it.”
And yet Leonard Peltier has remained a prisoner for more than 33 years. Fifty five United States Senators and Congressional Representatives (including Democrats and Republicans) have filed an appeal brief demanding that Peltier receive a new trial. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for Peltier’s immediate release from prison, governments from all over the world have passed resolutions insisting that Peltier be released, and a large contingent of distinguished human rights advocates have been very outspoken in their strong support for Peltier - including six people who have already received the Nobel Peace Prize: Nelson Mandela (1993), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Mikhail Gorbachev (1990), the 14th Dalai Lama (1989), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), and Mother Teresa (1979).
Despite his well known status as a political prisoner, however, the basis for Peltier’s Nobel nominations has been his remarkable success in furthering the causes of peace and human rights. During his 33 years of unjust incarceration, Peltier has worked tirelessly on a multitude of organized efforts to help other people achieve a more dignified and humane existence. While the Nobel Committee in Oslo (Norway) requests that letters of nomination not be made public, it is nonetheless widely known that Leonard Peltier has facilitated numerous significant donations to a wide variety of charities and human rights organizations.
Peltier is, of course, not financially wealthy - but he is an accomplished painter. Often expending his meager prison commissary account funds on art supplies such as paints, brushes, and canvas, he produces works of art which are subsequently donated and auctioned. Peltier has also worked to establish assistance programs for many underprivileged groups, and he has helped in other ways to fund a multitude of efforts from scholarships for Native students to shelters for victims of domestic violence. The Christmas fundraising effort begun by Peltier more than 25 years ago on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (one of the most impoverished places in the United States) has steadily been expanded and now provides assistance on at least five different Indian Reservations – the families now receiving the benefits of this annual program number more than one thousand. It is difficult to determine precisely the sum total of donations and contributions that Peltier has helped to facilitate, Peltier refuses to boast about his humanitarian work and many of his projects have not been made public. It is estimated, however, that the total contributions resulting from Peltier’s work during his 33 year imprisonment extend into the millions of dollars.
Peltier’s long record of human rights advocacy involves more than raising money. He has written a great deal while in prison, consistently taking advantage of every opportunity to encourage people not to harbor resentments, to take care of the environment, and to treat each other with love and respect. It is no small irony that a person treated in such an inhumane way should so strongly advocate the humane treatment of others, that a person so financially impoverished should help raise such extraordinary amounts of money for others, that a person with such just cause for bitterness and resentment should encourage forgiveness, and that a person imprisoned should be one of America’s strongest advocates for freedom.
Peltier’s 1999 book Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance (Saint Martin’s Press) continues to be a best seller on many lists. It is fitting that Leonard Peltier’s own words (from his book) should conclude this official press release: “We are in this together - the rich, the poor, the red, the white, the black, the brown, and the yellow. We are all one family of humankind. We share responsibility for our Mother Earth and for all those who live and breathe upon her. I believe our work will be unfinished until not one human being is hungry or battered, not a single person is forced to die in war, not one innocent languishes imprisoned, and no one is persecuted for his or her beliefs. I believe in the good in humankind. I believe that the good can prevail, but only with great effort. And that effort is ours, each of ours, yours and mine….Never cease in the fight for peace, justice, and equality for all people. Be persistent in all that you do and don’t allow anyone to sway you from your conscience.”
Please join the LP-DOC is congratulating Leonard on this monumental acheivement!
Write to Leonard Peltier at this address:
Leonard Peltier # 89637-132
PO BOX 1000
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 17837