American Culture (BD Shadow)

American Culture written with pictures from 'Red Rock'


To: c.pepper
Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2000 12:16 AM

. . . . . . . And - ALSO --Please send a copy of the following to whomever you think appropriate...if we send out enough copies maybe one'll blow into President Clinton's White House window...or the window of someone who knows him personally... Thanks...




This is Harvey Arden, editor of Leonard Peltier's PRISON WRITINGS: MY LIFE IS MY SUN DANCE. Please read the brief exchange of emails below. They lay out a simple strategy for resolving one of the sorriest episodes in American history. I would love to discuss the issue with you, read to you from Leonard's book, help you begin the Great Healing Leonard speaks of in his book, which has now been translated into German, French, Dutch, and Spanish, with Italian, Greek and Swedish translations underway. I promise I won't bore you! I live in DC near Chevy Chase Circle and could be down to your office on the subway in 45 minutes anytime. My tel#'s 202-244-4693

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, December 29, 2000 4:40 AM
Subject: [Native_American] Re: Touching Mr. Clinton's heart

In a message dated 12/18/2000 5:02:34 PM Eastern Standard Time, Caqemail writes:

Subj: Re: Clemency for Leonard Peltier - Justice and Reconciliation with Indigenous...
Date: 12/18/2000 5:02:34 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Caqemail
To: JT Road

Dear Harvey Arden -

I just called the White House and spoke for about four minutes with a live White House operator, condemning the FBI's outrageous "spontaneous rally" on Friday, and urged that the President not be swayed by the FBI's totally inappropriate lobbying in this case, and give executive clemency to Leonard.
If you have not already sone so, may I suggest urgently that you find a way to quickly get a copy of "Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance" into Clinton's hands. I believe that he needs to read for himself the text of Leonard's powerful and sincere message to the families of Agents Coler and Williams, as well as the entire book.

Louis Wolf
CovertAction Quarterly

Harvey's response:


Excuse my delay in getting back to you...I've been in Europe. Clinton recd one copy of Leonard's book last July during his visit to Pine Ridge...I believe he's also recd at least one other of the many copies that have been sent to him. Wish I could get him to read just these words of Leonard's to the slain agents' families...

"IF YOU, THE LOVED ONES of the agents who died at the Jumping Bull property that day, get some salve of satisfaction out of my being here, then at least I can give you that, even though innocent of their blood. I feel your loss as my own. Like you, I suffer that loss every day, every hour. And so does my family. We know that inconsolable grief. We Indians are born, live and die with inconsolable grief. We've shared our common grief for twenty-four years now, your families and mine, so how can we possibly be enemies anymore? Maybe it's with you--and with us--that the Great Healing can begin. You, the agents' families, certainly weren't at fault that day in 1975, any more than my family was, and yet you and they have suffered as much as, even more than, anyone there. It seems it's always the innocent who pay the highest price for injustice. It's seemed that way all my life.

"To the still-grieving Coler and Williams families I send my prayers if you will have them. I hope you will. They are the prayers of an entire people, not just my own. We have many dead of our own to pray for, and we join our sorrow to yours. Let our common grief be our bond. Let those prayers be the balm for your sorrow, not an innocent man's continued imprisonment. I state to you absolutely that, if I could possibly have prevented what happened that day, your menfolk would not have died. I would have died myself before knowingly permitting what happened to happen. And I certainly never pulled the trigger that did it. May the Creator strike me dead this moment if I lie. I cannot see how my being here, torn from my own grandchildren, can possibly mend your loss. I swear to you, I am guilty only of being an Indian. That's why I'm here.

"Being who I am, being who you are--that's Aboriginal Sin.

Yes Aboriginal Sin

We each begin in innocence.
We all become guilty.
In this life you find yourself guilty of being who you are.
Being yourself, that's Aboriginal Sin,
the worst sin of all.
That's a sin you'll never be forgiven for.

We Indians are all guilty,
guilty of being ourselves.
We're taught that guilt from the day we're born.
We learn it well.

To each of my brothers and each of my sisters, I say,
be proud of that guilt.
You are guilty only of being innocent,
of being yourselves,
of being Indian,
of being human.

Your guilt makes you holy."

--Leonard Peltier
from Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance, p216

Louis, to me these words mirror the towering spirit that Leonard is...they cannot but touch and strengthen the President's heart, which must be strong if he's to pardon Leonard.

But how in God's world to get him to ponder these words and the very real human being who wrote them??

My frustration is enormous, but I continue hoping and trying.

If I could talk to the President, I'd tell him there's a way around all of this that could bring a grudging satisfaction to both sides...simply to declare a BLANKET AMNESTY on all those involved in the 'Reign of Terror' at Pine Ridge in the '70's...that means ALL of those--THE INNOCENT ALONG WITH GUILTY--involved in the tragic events that occurred at Pine Ridge that dark and desperate hour of the Cold War, just as the last survivors were being airlifted off the roof of the Saigon Embassy...

It'd make both sides growl with displeasure, no doubt, but it would also relieve both sides of the main motivations for continuing this unnecessary war between the FBI, BIA, DOJ and Indian People. Yes, a BLANKET AMNESTY not only for Leonard and all the AIMsters and all Pine Ridge Traditionals who were involved, but also for the all the "FBI's" (as Indian people call them), even the worst of them, all the lawyers on both sides and all the prosecuters and the judges, and the GOONs ('Guardians of the Oglala Nation'), the "BIA's," the vigilantes, even the killers of Anna Mae Aquash--whose ghost calls out to us to stop using her memory to divide us. Let NO ONE fear future prosecution for WHATEVER was done in that shameful and shadowed hour in American history. Let it be a matter for historians, not lawyers, not prosecutors, not politicians.


Louis, I'm a writer and a dreamer, not a politican. I barely wander outside my basement study, except to give readings of Leonard's words to small groups around the country...once even 3-4000 people at the beginning of the wonderful (though unreported) Peltier Walk in New York City a couple of weeks ago... I don't know how to reach the President...all I get are shrugs and autoresponders.... Do you know anyone who can put a copy of this very email in Bill's hand? Does such a person exist? If so, please come forward NOW and help us!

Let him include this message to President Clinton that I wrote last week while visiting Europe, responding to a request from a friend for my best thoughts on Leonard's request for clemency--to be hopefully given to Mr. Clinton by a personal friend of the President's:

Leonard at Auschwitz

To Marc Steiner
From Harvey Arden
On behalf of Leonard Peltier

December 23, 2000

Dear Marc,

I have just returned to Germany from a visit on Thursday to Auschwitz in southwest Poland, where the Nazis slaughtered a million and half of my Jewish brethren, killing each of them with a special vengeance for the crime of being innocent--the same crime for which Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned this past quarter century. The day was appropriately bleak, the sky a grimy white, the air sulphurous with the fumes of Soviet-era factories that even today make Poland's air almost unbreatheable. As I walked through the barracks where the innocents were tortured and murdered with such malignant glee during that Holocaust of the human spirit, I felt Leonard walking with me, and I pondered the ways of men toward their fellow men. I wondered, What is the use of prayer? For most of those who died here prayed with the most intense passion and profound belief every morning, noon and evening of their lives. I pondered what is the use of Justice, when it is so selectively dispensed by the Unjust? I asked myself what is the use of Love, when those who love their families and friends and country, as the Nazis did, have such hatred in their hearts as to obliterate the very meaning of Love. As I walked through those ghost-filled barracks, I thought not only of these hallowed ones who died, but of my brother Leonard, languishing in his 5-by-9-foot cell at Leavenworth, and also of President Clinton, who now holds Leonard's fate in his hands, and, yes, of the FBI agents Ron Williams and Jack Coler, whose portraits sat above my desk for three years as I edited Leonard's book. I thought of the thousands of FBI agents who today put their lives on the line to protect every one of us, yet wish to see an innocent man die in prison for standing up for the rights of his People; I thought of all the Holocaust-deniers, who would have it that no Holocaust ever occurred, just as the FBI pretends the Reign of Terror it instigated at Pine Ridge in the 1970's never occurred; I think of Mr. Janklow sitting in the Oval Office even as I was visiting Aushwitz and doing his best to convince our President to deny clemency to Leonard Peltier, and I wonder, what is the use of Truth, when it can be so violated as to obliterate all Truth?

Marc, you ask me what I can say that could be passed on to convince President Clinton to give our brother Leonard Peltier clemency. Ask him, please, to give a half-hour audience to me and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th-Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Pipe of the Great Lakota Nation, so that we may deliver a message to him on behalf of the tens of millions of people around the world who plead for Leonard's freedom, who see Leonard's freedom as The Sign that Democracy and Justice and Love and Prayer still have a meaning in America. I want to read to Mr. Clinton from Leonard's book PRISON WRITINGS: MY LIFE IS MY SUN DANCE. I welcome the presence of President-elect Bush and Mr. Cheney and Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Reno and Mr. Freeh and any others the President cares to have on hand. Tell Mr. Clinton I also ask to have Leonard Peltier standing beside me in the Oval Office as I read his words, words Leonard would read himself if his locked jaw would allow him to.

I ask no more than that, make no plea beyond that. The decision is President Clinton's and no one else's.

Marc, I hope you can get this message to the President. May Spirit guide it on its way.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and Leonard Peltier,

/Harvey Arden
"Bringing the Elders to the World...and the World to the Elders"

See also please Should President Clinton Pardon Leonard Peltier? VOTE.COM
Check on and/or participate in the Voting.

You may also send the president an email at:


FAX: 202-456-2461.

Your message or phone call may be the one that convinces President Clinton!


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