Solidarity message of Native American and political prisoner Leonard Peltier to Fidel, the people and the revolution

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132 U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048-1000
August 2003

My honorable brothers and sisters of Cuba:

During the many years of serving an unjust imprisonment his Excellency President Fidel Castro, the Revolution and the great Cuban people have offered me almost three decades of solidarity, supporting my struggle as I seek justice and my freedom. Freedom that I lost as I was sentenced to two life sentences in a US prison for simply opposing the exploitation and the oppression of my people.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the attacks on Fort Moncada in Santiago de Cuba and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes; attacks carried out by the great revolutionary forces led by His Excellency President Fidel Castro. These attacks carried out on July 26, 1953 signaled one of the most significant acts against imperialism; as well as, being the first step in the overthrow of US backed dictator Batista. My people, the indigenous people of North America, know your struggle, as we have for more than 500 years fought against imperialism. This imperialist aggression has been responsible for the deaths of our ancestors, the rape of our women, and the ransacking of our lands. Now more than ever, we are obliged to fight for our freedom and our autonomy.

I would like this opportunity to once again express my solidarity with His Excellency Fidel Castro, with the Cuban Revolution and with my brothers and sisters in Cuba. I call for an end to all campaigns of foreign subversion and aggression towards the government of Cuba and it's people. The war on terrorism conducted by the US is nothing more than a smoke screen to carry out illegal acts of aggression that break International Law. In light of the acts of aggression and terrorism carried out by the imperialist, the Republic of Cuba has the right to defend and protects it's national sovereignty. Lastly, I call on the government of the United States to immediately free my five heroic brothers who remain unjustly imprisoned for trying to prevent acts of terrorism from Miami, against their nation and their people. I promise that I will maintain my solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Cuba and ask humbly that you support my struggle for my freedom.

Till victory! In the spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Source: Granma


The eagle’s feather

ORLANDO ORAMAS LEON, Granma daily staff writer

HAVANA (29 August 2003) -- THE North American Indigenous Movement had already been founded in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota when Daniel Yang was born. He’s currently in Cuba as an ambassador for U.S. native peoples and is the godson of Leonard Peltier, that indefatigable warrior unjustly imprisoned for defending the ancestral hopes and rights of his people.

With him are a drum and legendary pipe to help his prayers reach the Great Spirit. His clear voice intones the hymn of the Movement, accompanied by the drum whose beat is the heartbeat of Mother Earth. And although his words might be hard to understand, the message remains strong in the evocation of an ancestral struggle that still has many battles ahead.

The color red predominates in his traditional dress and an aura of mystery envelopes him when he offers us a "purifying" toke on the pipe or when he lights a bowl of dry salvia -- the sacred plant of his people, the Anichanabi.

Those traditions stretch back much further than the five centuries that saw the beginning of the North American Native Indians’ struggle against those who are still oppressing and discriminating against them and confining them to reservations.

And these traditions confer the most valuable decoration that a warrior can receive -- the eagles’ feather. For the first time ever, he explained, the North American Indigenous Movement has given one to a head of state and someone outside of the United States. It is an exceptional decoration that signifies success, honor and bravery.

Daniel affirmed that the Movement had authorized him to award it to the undefeated fighter President Fidel Castro because together with his people he has maintained aloft the resistance of the Cuban Revolution and an unswerving solidarity with the Movement’s cause. Whilst speaking those words he drew on his pipe in order to impart more force to the message entrusted in him.

PRISONER 89637-132

This is the number given to Leonard Peltier who has spent the last 28 years in U.S. jails. His major crime has been continuing to defend the stolen and pillaged rights of U.S. native peoples.

For the thirty years now he and activists from the Pine Bridge Reservation, South Dakota have been mobilizing in defense of other indigenous peoples; hundreds of native people have been killed there. The police and FBI have very rarely concentrated so many of their agents -- not to clear up those deaths but to suppress the native people’s protests.

He was charged with homicide but this was never proved. What is certain is that his rigged trial brought him to the notice of indigenous peoples and gave international importance to the silent and shameful situation of U.S. Native Indians.

Leonard chose Daniel to be his godson, who confirmed how U.S. justice has been reducing his appeal options. Peltier is serving double life in a maximum-security cell in Lavenworth jail, Kansas.

The former U.S. administration had promised him a pardon. President Bill Clinton himself confirmed this during an electoral tour of a reservation. In the last days of his mandate, Leonard’s family was informed of the decision and he gathered up his belongings in prison. But in the end, Justice Department pressure reconfirmed the injustice.

He has lost the sight in one eye in prison, suffers from diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure, but he was still able to paint a picture for Fidel and Cuba. It is the vision of an unbeaten warrior, as he sees us from his incarceration.

So it’s not by chance that he is embracing the cause of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters and entrusting his godson to carry his support to their families in Cuba. Yang underlined that the five Cubans and Peltier have been condemned for fighting terrorism against the Cuban people and the indigenous nations of North America.

REASONS TO STRUGGLE

Almost 30 years after Leonard Peltier was locked up, 90 per cent of Pine Bridge’s workforce is unemployed. U.S. native peoples have the highest suicide rate in the country. Discrimination and exploitation are currently acquiring new forms but for the same ends: to marginalize indigenous peoples.

Daniel Yang explained that the North American Indigenous Movement is continuing to fight for Washington to acknowledge the hundreds of treaties that have been ignored throughout 500 years.

Their rights, including those to land, water and self-determination, have been and continue to be denied by the colonizers. Daniel stressed that they were a society of warriors who want to live in peace, but peace has still to be won because the reservations where they are confined are the poorest places of the world’s richest power.

He puffed on the pipe, the smoke of the salvia invoking the spirits. Afterwards, the drumbeats announced that a notable warrior was about to receive the eagle’s feather.




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