Opinion

Adrian Jawort: Leonard Peltier an obstacle to his own freedom





"Leonard Peltier supporters, the fact that Barack Obama has taken such personal interest in the U.S. government’s relations with American Indians renews hope of a presidential pardon after he was denied parole in 2009 for his role in the murder of two FBI agents on June 26, 1975.

However, there’s one glaring obstacle in the way of his way potential freedom, and ironically it stems from one of his biggest adherents that brought his plight to the public eye: Peter Mattheissen, the author of the controversial 1983 book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. The book brought Peltier’s case to fame—“immortalized” him—and he’s since garnered sympathy from the likes of Indian country to two Nobel Peace Prize winners to a host of A-list celebrities who deem him a political prisoner.

After Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams approached an American Indian Movement (AIM) compound on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in search of a suspect named Jimmy Eagle, they were incapacitated by a hail of gunfire before being summarily executed. This is not disputed. But according to Matthiessen’s version of events, it all began when a brawl ensued after a night of drinking and cowboy boots were stolen. The FBI was looking for the perpetrators of the stolen item(s), and one of the culprits named Teddy Pourier was described in In the Spirit of Crazy Horse as “a small light-skinned boy who could have passed for a white anywhere else.” "

Get the Story:
Adrian Jawort: Leonard Peltier Supporters Hoping for a Presidential Pardon (Indian Country Today 12/19)

Related Stories:
Democracy Now: Leonard Peltier seeks clemency from Obama (12/13)