Leonard Peltier, my cellmate: Simple man with a big vision

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by Anthony Eagle

I would like to take this opportunity to give you positive praise. Your newspaper is absolutely wonderful. It shows the reality of society inside prison walls and also society outside these prison walls.

Warriors on the plains – Art: Leonard Peltier
Warriors on the plains – Art: Leonard Peltier

I am currently being housed in federal prison, United States Penitentiary, or USP, Coleman 1 in Coleman, Florida. My cellmate is an inspiration to all ethnic groups who has endured the injustices by the hands of what we call the “government.” His name is Leonard Peltier, in prison since 1975 for a crime he didn’t commit. How can someone hate when all that’s asked for is “peace and equality”? Am I asking too much? Are we asking too much?

Let me tell you about myself. I am 29 years old. I am Indian from the Ojibwa People out of Michigan, currently doing time in federal prison for taking a stand against sex abuse, protecting my people for being a voice, a voice for the scared, timid, hurt and silent.

Our people have suffered the same way over the years. The pain is still visible today when we look in our communities and see alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty. In my way of life, we have a ceremony called a “sweat.” This is a chance to suffer through hot rocks and physical pain.

I cry for the shared pain we hold. I cry for the teens affected by suicide. How did we get to that point? If I could carry you, I would. My heart is in limbo daily by being behind these walls and seeing all these lost men searching for meaning.

People, remember I said “a simple man with a big vision.” My vision is this: to write with all people of injustice not for the purpose of war but for peace, so we may start to heal. I ask you to stand with me.

My time here is short – seven months till I am back fighting for you. By asking for peace and being productive, we will move mountains. In the Native way, we are called warriors and also in your way of life. So please, no more crimes against the people or easy money. By doing this we give into the plan built against us.

So please, I offer my hand to yours, brothers and sisters, to join this way of life for the greater good of both our races, Blacks and Indians. Please write to me with your ideas and support.

Send our brother some love and light: Anthony Eagle, 16366-040, USP Coleman 1, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521. Editor’s note: This letter was written in January and would have been published months ago but for a huge backlog of stories we haven’t had time to publish. Let’s hope our brother Anthony has been released by the time you read this. If you write to him, it might be wise to address your letter to his legendary cellmate, Leonard Peltier, 89637-132, USP Colman 1, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman FL 33521.

3 COMMENTS

  1. So beautifully written. Gerry Conlon was buried today at the young age of 60. Jailed for a crime that he did not commit. The British authorities knew he did not commit. He father was left die in hospital due to the lack of treatment for his illness. They crime and the crime of other innocent Irish was that they were Irish in England. I saw the Guildford Four walk free out of the Old Bailey and I truly hope that this man walks free soon as well.

  2. In Leonard’s case, we know what was said:

    “This story is true.”

    Leonard Peltier, assuring his supporters that a mysterious Mr. X shot the FBI agents, with what his lawyer, Mike Kuzma, later admitted was a complete concoction.

    “Peter, you put my life in jeopardy and you put the lives of my family in jeopardy by putting that bullshit in your books. Why didn’t you call me and ask me if it was true?”

    Dean Butler, chastising Peter Matthiessen for including Peltier’s lone alibi, Mr. X, in his book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Note: An AIM member, David Hill, reportedly played the role of Mr. X in a video aired on American television.

    “I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and I looked at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile.”

    Leonard Peltier, standing over the bodies of Jack Coler and Ron Williams, moments after their heads were blown off, commenting on Joe Stuntz wearing Jack Coler’s green FBI jacket taken from his car trunk, as quoted in Peter Matthiessen’s, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

    “I didn’t think nothing about it at the time: all I could think of was, We got to get out of here!”

    Leonard Peltier, reacting to Joe Stuntz wearing Jack Coler’s jacket, from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Peltier could hear the chatter over the FBI car radio from other agents who were racing to the scene and attempting to re-establish contact with Agent Williams in response to his calls for help.

    “The two witnesses testified outside the presence of the jury that after their testimony at trial, they had been threatened by Peltier himself that if they did not return to court and testify that their earlier testimony had been induced by F.B.I. threats, their lives would be in danger.”

    United States v. Peltier, 585 F. 2d 314,

    U.S. App. Decision September 14, 1978.

    “The motherf—er was begging for his life but I shot him anyway.”

    Sworn testimony about Leonard Peltier, boasting in the Marlon Brando motor home about shooting Ron Williams, as heard by Dennis Banks, Ka-Mook Banks, Bernie Lafferty, and (soon-to-be-murdered) Anna Mae Aquash. According to the autopsy report, Ron Williams died with his right hand held up in front of his face; there were powder burns on his fingers. Inmate Peltier refuses to cooperate in the still-open Aquash murder investigation.

    “… the greater probability is that you yourself fired the fatal shots… It would be unjust to treat the slaying of these F.B.I. agents, while they lay wounded and helpless, as if your actions had been part of a gun battle. Neither the state of relations between Native American militants and law enforcement at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation prior to June 26, 1975, nor the exchanges of gunfire between individuals at the Jumping Bull Compound and the law enforcement agents who arrived there during the hours after Agents Coler and Williams were murdered, explains or mitigates the crimes you committed…Your release on parole would promote disrespect for the law in contravention of 18 U.S.C….”

    Leonard Peltier’s 1993 Parole Board, commenting on his aiding and abetting conviction.

    “I never thought my commitment would mean sacrificing like this, but I was willing to do so nonetheless. And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.”

    Peltier’s statement to supporters, 2/6/2010.

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