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Monday, May 04, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama on Behalf of Leonard Peltier 

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Dear President Obama,

On behalf of myself, friends, family and literally millions of people all across the United States and the world, I am writing you today concerning an urgent and heartfelt request: to consider the case of Leonard Peltier. For thirty-three years Mr. Peltier has been incarcerated in various American prisons for a crime that there is ample evidence to substantiate he did not commit. For thirty-three years Mr. Peltier, his lawyers and supporters have appealed to the powers that be in Washington to re-open, to re-try the case of the U.S. vs. Leonard Peltier. For thirty-three years these pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Now, at age 64, Leonard Peltier is approaching the end of his life and is in poor health, and those of us who are interested in Native American issues of social justice are trying one last time, when hope has returned to the American spirit and we have a president who espouses transparency and equanimity of policy and practice, to appeal to your sense of compassion and justice in a case that for many represents an opportunity to finally bridge the gap of broken treaties and broken trust between the First Nation peoples of this country and their government. We truly hope that with your new administration and its progressively positive attitudes of equal rights for all peoples, races, religions and economic status, that a time of reconciliation has finally arrived and some of the injustices of the past can be put right, with critical bridges crossed and war wounds healed.

Rather than laying out the long history of the case of the U.S. vs. Leonard Peltier, I prefer to point you in the direction of Mr. Peltier’s book My Life Is My Sun Dance, a book he has written that was published in 1999 to universal acclaim and rave reviews (see enclosure), and which I had the great honor to edit. This book contains his full account of the events surrounding his arrest, his trial, his incarceration and the more than twenty-three years that followed. Also, you might want to consult your colleagues Senator Inouye and Gov. Bill Richardson on this case, as they are familiar with it and are supporters of the world-wide movement to reconsider, re-try and release Leonard Peltier from his incarceration as a political prisoner, wrongly convicted.

To this end I would like to ask of you a favor by granting an audience to Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th-Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Pipe of the Great Lakota Nation, and myself, that we may deliver a message to you on behalf of all those concerned people around the world who have worked--by marching in protest, by contacting their representatives in government, by signing petitions, by writing letters, by working for his legal defense--so hard for Mr. Peltier’s freedom. We would be happy to meet with you, Vice President Biden, Sec. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Inouye, Jodi Archambault Gillette from the Office of Inter-governmental Affairs and anyone else you feel would appropriately need to be involved in such a meeting and any discussions that might occur to shed a brighter light on this matter. Such a meeting, we believe, would not only be a true sign of your willingness to begin a dialogue with Native peoples on issues of overlooked urgency and importance, but would go a long way, in good faith, to showing us that Democracy and Justice still have a meaning in America.

Mr. President, it is with great hope and great expectations that my colleagues and I await your word in response to this letter of inquiry and appeal. Not only does the future of Leonard Peltier depend upon it, but also our hopes for a greater nation where there is truly liberty and justice for all peoples, including First Nation peoples.
Respectfully yours,

Harvey Arden
Washington, DC
with assistance from
Thomas Rain Crow
newnativepress@hotmail.com

Please send a copy of this to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

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