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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Peltier’

native_americanLike many of you I have rolled through the Black Hills of South Dakota with the wind in my face…

Whether a weekend warrior eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry or it’s a way of life — I think all would agree that rolling through the “hills” offers up an incredible experience.  From rolling plains to majestic mountains — sometimes you have to pull over just to take it all in.  It’s not only a magical place to visit because of its beauty, but also because of its “roots” to the Native Americans who live there.  Most are Dakota, Lakota or Nakota people and known collectively as the Sioux.  The Sioux nation traces its roots to the  “Oceti Sakowin” (Seven Council Fires) and traditional stories place the nations birth in the Black Hills where customs hold the forces of nature as holy.

Having lived in “NoDak” during a more violent time, I’m reminded of Anishinabe decent, a person from the Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been imprisoned since 1976.  His name is Leonard Peltier.  Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I previously blogged about Leonard Peltier HERE and the significance of the song “Sacrifice” from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” by Robbie Robertson.  Peltier was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977 and recently was denied parole after having a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.  Some feel he is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed two FBI special agents and has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse.  However, others feel the FBI had no substantive evidence in the trial, essentially framed him and he has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

For many Native Americans, Peltier’s imprisonment has come to stand not only for unjust violence waged against Native Americans but also for the theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with dignity and grace.  If you take the time and look deeper into Peltier’s legal situation — compare the 64-year olds poor health and then contrast it with the recent “compassionate grounds” release of the Lockerbie bomber — one can only assume that the public outrage likely didn’t help his chances in the parole hearing.  His best chance now of getting out of prison alive is to receive a pardon or clemency from the president of the U.S.  However, that is unlikely, as Mr. Obama would rather spend time reaching out to Muslims and celebrate Islamic holy month by hosting a Ramadan dinner than address the plight of Native Americans.  To be fair, Mr. Obama did present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Medicine Crow — High Bird in Washington last month.  Photo HERE.

I’m not on a mission to convince anyone of Peltier’s guilt or innocence.  Remember, this all started with a song and I’ve not turned activist fighting for the overturn of the U.S. constitutional court rulings that affirmed the confiscation of Native American lands.  I’m a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys the Black Hills and appreciates the freedom to take in a week of open roads.  There is more information related to freeing Peltier HERE or if compelled, you can write him at:

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Lastly, in doing the research for this post I run across Arron Huey.  A photo journalist with images that are truly captivating of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.  His work was featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Photo courtesy of  LDOC and Travel South Dakota web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Groov’n to my XM Satellite this morning I was listening to Robbie Robertson’s Sacrifice from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy”…

I’ve heard the song before, but something in the song grabs my attention.  In the background you hear this narrated telephone-squawk box voice of Leonard Peltier.

The musician Robbie Robertson was born with the name Jaime Robert Klegerman, a son of a Jewish father and Mohawk Indian mother, and first brushed with music at the Six Nations Reservation.  He is an accomplished musician and has composed the score to Scorsese’s movies Raging Bull, King of Comedy and The Color Of Money as well as appeared with Bob Dylan, U2, and Peter Gabriel. His most recent work was with Touchstone Pictures / Beacon Pictures’ ‘Ladder 49′ (John Travolta) and the feature track, “Shine Your Light.”

It turns out the song Sacrifice is indeed a ‘protest’ song which features Leonard Peltier – a Native American who has been imprisoned since 1976 on charges of murder who many believe are fabricated – his voice is recorded from telephone calls from prison. Peltier, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., has spent nearly half of his 59 years behind bars in maximum-security prisons, most recently in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. Peltier was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  If you’re into conspiracy theories, then you’ll be interested in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973 which marked the beginning of a three-year period of heightened political violence on the Reservation.  Peltier was an American Indian Movement (AIM) organizer from the Northwest who got caught up in the shoot-out on the ranch of the Jumping Bull family.  I’m not passing judgment just sharing the information.

In doing the background and research for this post it connected me with the Protect Bear Butte initiative in Sturgis, SD and I wanted to raise awareness of the issue.  Headed up by Tamra Brennan, the Bear Butte is a sacred mountain in the Black Hills and only 8 miles from downtown Sturgis.  The issue is where motorcycle rally growth (see above map) and the need to accommodate the large influx of bikers means more and more people want in on the opportunity to make a buck so, there has been an increased presence or build out of bars, clubs, concerts facilities, campgrounds mixed with more and more alcohol sales near, on or over the mountain.  The rally collides with the spiritual beliefs and ceremonies of the Native People as well as disrespects a sacred mountain.  Sort of like going to church while partying with all your rowdy biker friends.

There are 14 sites from S.D. to A.Z being debated and/or fought over to ensure full freedom of religion on public lands.  Historically Federal land management has disregarded American Indian calls of protection on sacred sites in public lands.  More rocks were thrown sort-of-speak, when Jay Allen owner of Broken Spoke developed a multi-level property only one mile from Bear Butte called Sturgis County Line(SCL). He sold his stake in the property to Boston based Target Companies (a travel corp.), but remains active in “promotion” of the facilities and campgrounds.

I’m hopeful that Pepper Massey, the Director of the Sturgis Rally Department can indeed grow the Rally in both attendance and revenue while keeping the event vital for the community that supports it…which includes being respectful to the Native Indians and the religeous freedoms.

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