A Refresher on American Indian History
Posted on: Aug 13, 2009
Today Native Americans are awaiting the Parole decision for Leonard Peltier. Leonard’ was falsely convicted of killing two FBI Agents in 1975 at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leonard Peltier (born September 12, 1944) was an American activist and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) who was convicted and sentenced in 1977 to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who were killed during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
There is considerable debate over Peltier’s guilt and the fairness of his trial. During the original trial over the murder of the two FBI Agents, the two of three suspects were tried in Rapid City, SD, and found by a jury of South Dakota Resident’s not guilty. Subsequently the U. S. Justice Department had the trial for Leonard Peltier replaced with another judge, and subsequently produced evidence, which was fabricated by the FBI, to at least prosecute someone. In this case, it was Leonard, who got the full rath of the U. S. Justice System.
Some of his supporters and world-wide organizations consider him to be a political prisoner. Amnesty International has stated that "Although he has not been adopted as a prisoner of conscience, there is concern about the fairness of the proceedings leading to his conviction and it is believed that political factors may have influenced the way the case was prosecuted."[
Numerous lawsuits have been filed on his behalf but none have succeeded. Peltier is currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
On July 28, 2009 Peltier was granted a full hearing before the US Parole Commission. The commission has 21 days to make a decision on the parole hearing examiner's recommendation.
On the other side of the U. S. coin, one must remember the history of the American Indians in the United States and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during the late 1960’s through the early 1970’s. Here The Tribal President Dick Wilson and his goons (Gestapo) operated the Reservation exactly like Adolph Hitler. Any person who objected to Dick Wilson and his “Andrew Jackson Democracy” was subject to harassment, beatings, and death. There were many murders on the Pine Ridge Reservation from 1967 through 1975. Here it was the Pine Ridge elders who asked the American Indian Movement (AIM) to come and help out.
In 1974 there was the second battle of Wounded Knee, (with the first battle in the 1890's in which many Congressional Medals of Honor for U. S. Soldiers were given, for the honorary task of slaughtering unarmed men, women, and kids). If you look it up, there were more U. S. Congressional Medals of "Honor" given for this single incident, than any ever batle!
In 1974 , after a 60+ day battle, there was a truce. (Hmm, sounds like the 1850-1890’s treaty’s), and the promise to make amends. For those of you Generation X or Y’ers, who have not been taught anything in your classroom history classes? Here there was an armed gun battle between FBI, State, County, and white men, between the people whole’d up at Wounded Knee South Dakota, and there was also the FBI, with Military Armed Personal Carriers (called in for their own protection). Luckily after many days 60+, of constant shooting at each other, a peace was resolved.
However, the Pine Ridge President Dick Wilson and his goon squads, would blockade many roads into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and if they didn’t like you, you had two choices either to proceeded and be severely beaten or killed, or go back off the reservation. These goon squads loyal only to Dick Wilson, acted exactly like Hitler’s Gestapo, with no impunity from the law.
The law (in charge) being the FBI, always looked the other way. As an Indian Reservation with the U.S. Government having a Trust Responsibility to preserve law and order on any Indian reservation, the FBI always were very friendly with Dick Wilson’s goons (as the FBI did not want to get involved, or in the way of any shooting).
During the 1965-1975 time period there were more unsolved murders at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, than any were else. Thus the United States Trust Responsibility was ignored.
What happened at Pine Ridge was one day; two FBI agents were looking for two suspects in a certain vehicle. They followed the vehicle down into a coulee, and what happened is known only to the creator, the two FBI agents, and the three known suspects.
Many people do not know what happened at that gun battle where two FBI Agents were killed, but isn’t it curious that all the murders of the Native Americans on the Pine Ridge Reservation, were never solved. Yet to this day, the FBI always pursues justice for their own (Hmmm, no U.S. Trust Responsibility there, eh?).
For over four hundred years, the motto of the U. S. Government was Western Expansion, and who-ever got in our way, they were eliminated. From President Andrew Jackson’s forced removal of the Cherokee, to the mass hanging of Native Americans by Abraham Lincoln (in Minnesota), from President Grant’s motto of “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”, to Chief Josephs” attempt to reach Canada, the U.S. has always had less respect for Native Americans and their lands, than the black slaves brought over from Africa. At least after the end of the Civil War (1865) Black men were free to vote.
Until 1924, Native Americans were not citizens of the United States. Many Native Americans had, and still have, separate nations within the U.S. on designated reservation land. But on June 2, 1924, Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. Yet even after the Indian Citizenship Act, some Native Americans weren't allowed to vote because the right to vote was governed by state law. Until 1948, some states barred Native Americans from voting.
For our young readers, in the 1960’s there was the Vietnam revolution, the Black Panthers’ revolution, and other assorted mass public demonstrations, that the status quo, did not like. Any person or group deemed a radical was ordered targeted by J. Edgar Hoover (Head of the FBI) to watch, subvert, and eliminate.
Unfortunately after the 1968 takeover of Alcatraz, and the fish-ins of Franks Landing in Washington State (against the Washington State Fish and Game Commission resulting in the Boldt decision), Native Americans became another subversive target. In the 1970’s the Black Panthers were neutralized, and the Native Americans who by the early 1970’s had taken over the BIA Main Interior Building in Washington, DC, and many other Cities, were also targeted for elimination.
What is interesting in the events leading up to the fatal shootout with the two FBI Agents, is why were they (the FBI) so arrogant into thinking that they could drive into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and be respected (i.e. the Law and Order)?, while looking for a certain person(s) or vehicle? The reservation was lawless, the FBI knew about it, and yet, 30 years later, even with the Freedom of Information Act, all FBI records, are either blacked out or not released.
In epilog, I hope that all U.S. History classes will teach the true events leading up to this event, but to hold a very old Sickly 65+ Native American (Leonard Peltier) forever a prisoner, because he is a threat to the United States, is ridiculous.
Leonard Peltier has served enough prison time for the crime,of defending his homeland, (i.e. defending the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from Dick Wilson and his goons).
It is interesting to note that every time his parole or Pardon has come about, there are many FBI, agents, Prosecutors, and other entities, which continually say that he is a threat to the United States of America, and should never be free.
Even Charley Manson in California, whenever he comes up for parole, is held in less regard than Leonard Peltier.
For over Four hundred Years the people who have taken over the North American continent, have always, used laws like the “Doctrine of Discovery” which remained a convenient justification for the taking of Indigenous lands that continues to this day. For the U. S. Government Parole Board to grant Leonard Peltier Amnesty is paramount to admitting its error’s. The world all over knows, that the U. S. will never admit it’s errors, (as that would be hypocritical) and for me as a first cousin and my whole family, I say many prayers for Leonard, and I am at ease knowing that, in the eventual end, for all the FBI personnel, Prosecutors, and the U. S. governments (we are all born, counting down ours day until we die), and then what goes around will come around. Ahey!
Na-He-Ga-Ta Stiffarm - Gros Ventre