The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Unlawful Conviction of Leonard Peltier

Have you heard of Nelson Mandela? How about Leonard Peltier? Because every american ought to know who he is, a native political prisoner.

In 1973, the Lakota-Sioux Indian reservation had the highest per-capita murder rate in the nation. Dick Wilson, the chief of tribal police, and his GOON squad, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, murdered over 70 democracy activists. Traditional Oglala women asked for the aid of members of the American Indian Movement, activists fighting for indigenous sovereignty. A cadre of men and women set up camp at Jumping Bull Ranch in response. In what politically engaged actor and writer, Peter Coyote, described as a “climate of murder and intimidation“, an unmarked FBI vehicle approached the camp. Two guys hopped out of the unmarked car with long guns in hand.

The feds were apparently searching for Jimmy Eagle, a young AIM activist, who after a physical altercation, stole a pair of cowboy boots. Far from a federal offense, one must consider the other reasons why an FBI vehicle might arrive at that site that day as they did. Here’s a potential reason: a distraction from Dick Wilson illegally signing away Uranium mining rights of the tribe in Washington. Cowboy boots was no reason for the FBI to pull into an armed camp in the manner that they did. They were obviously trying to spring a trap.

While there were fifty tribal police on the edge of Jumping Bull ranch, when the gunfight started, they fled. Leaving the FBI members surrounded, wounded, and ultimately executed. AIM didn’t know they were feds until the deed was done. Terrified AIM leaders fled, and all hell broke loose on the reservation. Quoting Peter Coyote once more:

 “the reservation was taken over by government forces. They fired 100,000 rounds of ammunition. They stripped Native elders naked. They broke down houses.”

Because sovereignty isn’t real if you make the United States government angry. AIM members, Bob Robideau and Darrell Butler were arrested for the deaths of the two feds, but they were acquited by a white jury. In line with the all-american tradition of scapegoating innocent people so that the feds can feel more competent, the turned their focus towards Leonard Peltier.

They maliciously stitched together fabricated evidence against him.

  • They tied a fifteen year old boy to a chair, coerced, and threatened him until he gave a testimony against Peltier, which he later recanted. Two other witnesses later recanted due to the same cause.
  • They told the jury they had been looking for a red and white van, which peltier had been seen driving, when in reality that they they had been looking for a red pickup truck.
  • The jury was not allowed to hear about other cases in which the FBI had tampered with evidence and witnesses.
  • A definitive ballistics report was not done at the time, due to the gun being allegedly damaged. So the superficial FBI report said the ballistics from the bodies matched Peltier’s gun. Years later, it was proven that not only was a definitive report possible, but it proved that there was no match. This evidence was surpressed.
  • The prosecutor explicitely said in closing  “We proved that he went down to the bodies and executed those two young men at point blank range.” when in reality, they later admited that they had no clue who killed the agents. at the appellate hearing, the government attorney conceded, “We had a murder. We had numerous shooters. We do not know who specifically fired what killing shots…We do not know who shot the agents.”.
  • Peltier, who was in Canada, was extradited based on a false affadavit signed my Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have dating Peltier and to have witnessed the murders. She later admitted the FBI pressured her into giving false statements. Canada is still suing the United States for the false affadavit.

So, now that we know that the FBI got grumpy and lied on numerous occasions to put Peltier away, hasn’t he been released? No. He’s been imprisoned since 1977, serving two life sentences. He’s suffered a severe beating and the distress of living every day in a cage, since 1977. The Pennsylvannia Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in 1993, saying that he “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” Though they have since stated that they “recognize… that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

Why is this happening? The perjury and deceipt that occured in the process of incarcerating Peltier is not radical propaganda. It’s in the books. It’s academia. When the US government said that they had no idea who killed the agents, Peltier should have been released that day. It is known that he was framed, but he still lives every day of his life in a cage. Why? Because William Webster, head of the FBI, has vindictive desire to keep him there. That’s why. Because when you fight the FBI, they’ll put you away. No evidence necessary. That’s why.

The campaign to free Leonard Peltier is ongoing. The campaign is backed by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Calvin Klein, Michael Moore, Yoko Ono Lennon, Cher, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Sting, Richard Branson, Amnesty International. Learn more at http://www.campaigntofreeleonardpeltier.com/.

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The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Mexico/US Border

We are indigenous no european borders

There are so many ways that the United States perpetuates catastrophes along the Mexico/US border, so here are a few in brief.

NAFTA

The United States creates “illegal” immigration every day. It starts with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated tariffs between Canada, the US, and Mexico, allowing for marvelous “free trade”. This has been destructive for Mexico, leading to American companies sending machine parts to Mexico to be assembled cheaply (i.e. sweat shop conditions) and shipped right back. These are called Maquiladoras, where mostly impoverished women work. In the city of Juarez, near the border, women are raped and murdered on their way to and from these Maquiladoras at disturbing rates. Agriculture in Mexico has plummeted, as farmers are forced to drop the prices of their products due to United States agriculture subsidies that cause US corporations to monopolize the market. These dreadful conditions caused by the US leads people, not surprisingly, to cross over the border to try and live prosperously.

Instead of acknowledging any kind of fault, the US criminalizes these immigrants, detaining them without representation, deporting them, and of course, killing them at the border. Ironic, considering almost the whole of the western United States was once Mexico, and only belongs to the US now, because, to put it bluntly, they wanted it. They saw Mexico was a weaker nation, and they wanted to own land from coast to coast.

DIVISION OF TOHONO O’ODHAM

The last territorial acquisition of the US was the Gadsden Purchase, which expanded the border of Arizona and Mexico further south. As per usual, the Natives of the area were completely undermined. The Tohono O’Odham Nation resides on the Sonora desert, between Arizona and Mexico, so the border slices the nation in two arbitrary chunks. Tribal members were not granted dual citizenship. Increased militarization of the border has lead to tribal members not being able to traverse their nation as they wish. They are stopped by border patrol and physically separated from their families and ritual sites. The O’Odham are forced to spend their limited funds handling increasing immigration through the desert, and receive 1/3 of what they are spending in subsidies from the US government.

Increasing immigration through the desert has caused alleged tensions between the O’Odham and migrants. And as time goes on, their nation becomes a police state under the guise of border enforcement.

US BORDER MILITARIZATION

The increasing traffic of immigrants entering through the desert is a direct result of increased border militarization, including, but not limited to watchtowers, drone surveillance, and that abominable wall, that have created a funnel effect. So where those entering through the desert was once a couple of hundred per day, now it is more like 1500. US Border Patrol have participated in disgusting acts against humanity, such as slashing water jugs left by humanitarians along desert trails. In other words, one of United States’ tactics to reduce traffic is to kill them. The US has put these policies in place- forced people to trek through the dangerous desert- in hopes that they die, thus reducing the likelihood of people crossing in the future. But NAFTA policies are still in place, the Mexican economy still crumbling, and the US has done nothing to address those root causes.

There is a direct correlation number of boots on the border and the number of border deaths. So to support more “border security” is in a very direct way, supporting more deaths. Increased spending on border security equals more corpses in the desert- women, children, men, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins… With less migrants entering through the border than before, the deaths at the border remain the same- meaning that the US government has been killing more people. So when the militarization of the Mexico/US border is referred to as murderous, it is not an exaggeration.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. There is no, US Drone Services, Inc. directly funded by taxpayer dollars. There is a military industrial complex that makes money off of building fences, building drones, and building watchtowers. The militarization is clearly a bandaid- a murderous, evil, disgusting, bandaid that doesn’t acknowledge the root causes of “illegal” immigration. Now that that has been made clear- one is forced to ask, who benefits from border enforcement expansion? Where do all those precious taxpayer dollars go? In the pockets of those corporations that provide these vile services. I encourage you to try and find out how many of their interests are sitting in congressional seats.

There are many companies that gladly make money off of killing innocent people. There are even expos where these companies can table and promote their services. It’s nothing short of horrifying.

 

The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Maze of Injustice That is Tribal Law Enforcement

The atrocities committed against Red Nations on the North American Continent can be endlessly listed throughout history. What’s not as often discussed is what is intentionally being perpetuated by the United States Government today. Most Americans, which at one point included myself, buy into the myth that our history of cruelty against the native people of this country remains buried in the distant past.

Currently, rates of sexual assault and domestic violence among native women are more than double the national average. A disturbing statistic of one in three native women will be sexually assaulted and 40 percent will be victims of domestic violence. Police follow-through on reports of sexual assault are pitifully nonexistent. 

The way law enforcement works on the reservations works against justice in every way. Tribal law enforcement are pawns, with nearly no real authority. Among the native population, they are only allowed to persecute minor crimes. Federal crimes, such as rape and murder, are required to be investigated by the FBI. This is just one way that the United States Government treats indigenous sovereignty as a big fat joke. What often happens is the FBI receives these cases and says “not my department”, leaving people with no sense of justice. According to this article,

“When you look at the whole country, the Justice Department says that arrests are made for 35 percent of rapes reported by black women and 32 percent of those reported by white women. The rate for Native American women? Just 13 percent.”

Considering there is concrete evidence that native women are sexually assaulted in astonishingly higher numbers than the rest of the country, that statistic is 100 percent unacceptable. 

Apart from that, federal law continues to favor the white man. Federal law does not allow tribal law enforcement to prosecute non-native people for most crimes. The most they can do is either drop the non-native off at the border of the reservation, or hold that person for up to 72 hours, in hopes that the FBI will show up (but they most likely won’t, considering it’s “not their department”) before letting that person go.

In other words, the reservation is free reign for any non-native person. A non-native is free to come and go and wreak havoc as they wish, because there is essentially no legal repercussion to come from it. 

So with this new information, and considering how many racial conflicts exist on areas bordering reservations– i.e. considering how many racists consider themselves superior to natives in those areas, who do you really think are committing these crimes?

Why was the law written this way in the first place? Why has it remained this way? As recently as 2012, House Republicans axed provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that would extend Tribal Authority to protect women assaulted by non-natives, because they felt it was a “dangerous” extension of tribal authority. Where is the justice there? Recently, it was decided that non-natives could be prosecuted for domestic violence IF they live on the res. So “tourists”, modern day cowboys, can still do whatever they darn well please. If this upsets or disturbs you, good. That means you are a decent and reasonable person.

So for all of those who think that abuses against natives ended back in the colonial days ought to know that this only scratches the surface of United States injustices against natives, and that colonization is alive an well. 

The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: Illegal Seizure and Development of the Black Hills

The Black Hills are a small, isolated range in South Dakota. Near heavenly, the hills seem to glow during dawn and dusk. In 1868, after long conflicts between the Lakota-Sioux Nation and United States Settlers, the Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed and, presumably, agreed upon. The territory allotted to the Lakota was expansive, spreading over Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, including the Black Hills.

With the discovery of natural resources within Lakota territory, came an influx of white settlers to get their believed to be rightful share. This broke the treaty. In response, settlers were attacked by the Lakota people, breaking the treaty from their end as well. This led to the Black Hills War, which the United States government chose to resolve by complete seizure of the area in 1877.

The United States was supposed to have paid the Lakota for the land, but they refused to accept the funds. The Treaty of Fort Laramie required that a 3/4 vote from tribal leaders be required to change the treaty. Only a handful supported it, not enough to fill the 3/4 requirement. Labeled as “hostile” by the United States government, for their noncooperation, the Lakota were cut off from Congressional appropriations for their subsistence. The support came at the threat of starvation. All of these combined factors void the transaction, rendering the seizure illegal and in violation of international treaty law.

Lawsuits were made and disputed for half a century, and in 1980, the Supreme Court agreed that the seizure was illegal and immoral, and that the Black Hills belong to the Lakota people. On the walls of the community museum atop Wounded Knee memorial, it is written that the supreme court said of these violations:

“A more ripe and rank cases of dishonorable dealings will never in all probability be found in our history”.

To this day, the Lakota have refused to accept the funds which would solidify the 1877 seizure. Funds that with interest add up to over a billion dollars. Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the most impoverished regions in the western hemisphere. Unemployment is at 80%, alcoholism is pervasive, and violence is a part of every day life.

White Clay, Nebraska is a town that exists on the illegally seized land, which belongs to the Lakota nation according to the Fort Laramie Treaty. Even though the reservation is dry, more homeless Lakota live on the streets of White Clay than the white bar and shop owners. There the liquid genocide continues.

Uranium development has leaked into the water supply, causing birth defects and cancer. And the Keystone XL pipeline is planned to run conveniently in between the scattered, smaller, Lakota reservations assigned after the violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty.

It is important to understand and acknowledge the historic Lakota conflicts in the Black Hills area, when addressing the Keystone XL debate. Often protested from an environmental standpoint, this brief history illustrates a major social justice conflict as well. The settlers’ towns have existed for over a century now, so white descendants of those settlers call the region theirs. For example, the sheriff of Shannon County, Nebraska, who guards the town of White Clay, considers the region his home. In his mind, he is defending the laws of his country that he loves and was raised in. Therefore, seizing the area belonging to the Lakota according to the Fort Laramie Treaty wont be easy or straight forward. 

It is not difficult for the average student sitting in a history class to be horrified at the genocide of the native people of this continent. What goes unaddressed is how the genocide and systematic abuse continues today. So when it comes to indigenous sovereignty and solidarity, one who would consider themselves an ally to the indigenous people of this continent will have to acknowledge first that the Black Hills belong to the Lakota people. Second, that the Keystone XL pipeline and further development of the region is unlawful and not within the United States jurisdiction.