Leonard Peltier In Support of the Demonstrations Against the Free Trade Argeement of the Americas
By Leonard Peltier
Dear Brothers, Sisters, Friends and Supporters,
I know many of you are already familiar with the FTAA, NAFTA, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. I know many of you are working hard to expose what these organizations and agreements are all about and how they are taking over the world and violating human rights, labor rights, Indigenous rights, environmental protections, and sovereignty rights, in each and every place they set foot. Therefore, what I would like to address is the bigger picturethe real roots of the FTAA and ways which we can obstruct it.
Where did the FTAA get its start? Not in a conference room and not in an office. The FTAA is a continuation of the imperialism that began thousands of years ago in Europe with the domination of Indigenous Peoples whose self-subsisting land and way of life were taken away so that greedy feudalists could reign. Ever since, Indigenous Peoples have been forced into submission, if not obliteration, in the name of civilization and progress all over the globe. Here we are in the 21st century, and the world has far from benefited. I do not need to explain the Earths devastation, the overwhelming poverty, and the wars that have resulted from practices that put profit before the very survival of Mother Earth and the human race.
Advocates of the FTAA would not dare refer to their policies as forms of colonization or feudalism because these practices are now widely scorned. Instead they will justify their actions in the name of development for the poor countries of Central and South America. Development? What the first peoples of the Americas need is recovery not developmentrecovery from the very same colonization, domination, and genocide that multi-national corporations want to perpetuate for their own gains today.
Now we must continue, not only to condemn the practices of these trade organizations and policies, but also to implement and support means of self-sufficiency both in our communities and abroad. We must support Indigenous movements like that of the Zapatistas and the Uwa who are fighting to maintain their land base and self-sufficient way of life. We must support the small farmers and farm workers who provide their communities with healthy foods to eat. We must create and support innovative projects on Indian reservations, in inner cities and in third world countries that promote self-sufficiency and better living conditions.
But in doing this, we must unite beyond the boundaries of race, class, belief systems, and age that all too often divide us. If we do not unite, we will be defeated one by one, just as they destroyed the American Indian Movement, who fought so hard for Native sovereignty; the Black Panthers, who developed much needed community based programs and struggled for self-determination; the movements in Central America that sought to implement schools, social programs, and land reform; and the unions who fought for humane working conditions. Most important, we must break down the barriers that divide us in our own backyards.
We need to develop a global culture that teaches us, as my ancestors did, to think carefully about the impact our actions and policies will have on Mother Earth, on each other, and on future generations before we act upon them. If we can do this, then surely we can win.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
About Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier is 56 years old and was born on the Anishinabe (Chippewa) Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. He came from a large family of 13 brothers and sisters.
Leonard Peltiers participation in the American Indian Movement (AIM) led to his involvement in the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties which took him to Washington D.C., in the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building.
Eventually his AIM involvement would bring him to assist the Oglala Lakota People of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the mid 1970s. On Pine Ridge he participated in the planning of community activities, religious ceremonies, programs for self-sufficiency, and improved living conditions. He also helped to organize security for the traditional people who were being targeted for violence by the pro-assimilation tribal chairman and his vigilantes. It was here that the tragic shoot-out of June 26, 1975 occurred, leading to his wrongful conviction.
The incident of June 26th resulted in the deaths of one Native American and two FBI agents. The US government charged four men including Peltier with murder. They apprehended two, tried them, and they were found innocent by reason of self-defense.
Because the two dead men were FBI agents, the government would not give up. They brought Peltier to trial but this time the prosecution manufactured physical evidence. Leonard Peltier was convicted and he has remained in jail for 25 years despite it being shown later that the governments evidence had been fabricated.
Amnesty International considers him a political prisoner who should be immediately and unconditionally released. The National Congress of American Indians and the Assembly of First Nations, representing the majority of First Nations in the US and Canada, have repeatedly called for Leonard Peltiers freedom.
He has written poetry and prose from prison, and recently completed a moving autobiography titled Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance (St. Martins Press, NY, 1999).
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