resuscitating language

one way palestinians and indigenous americans are alike is the long history of political imprisonment. it’s yet another means of separating people and destroying resistance recently leonard peltier was denied parole yet again. last week his attorney, eric seitz, wrote about it for the san francisco bay view news while going over some details of the case and letting us know what we can do about it:

The Bush administration holdovers on the U.S. Parole Commission today adopted the position of the FBI that anyone who may be implicated in the killings of its agents should never be paroled and should be left to die in prison.

Despite judicial determinations that the unrepentant FBI fabricated evidence and presented perjured testimony in Leonard Peltier’s prosecution; despite a jury’s acquittal on grounds of self-defense of two co-defendants who were found to have engaged in the same conduct for which Mr. Peltier was convicted; despite Mr. Peltier’s exemplary record during his incarceration for more than 33 years and his clearly demonstrated eligibility for parole; despite letters and petitions calling for his release submitted by millions of people in this country and around the world including one of the judges who ruled on his earlier appeals; and despite his advanced age and deteriorating health, the Parole Commission today informed Mr. Peltier that his “release on parole would depreciate the seriousness of your offenses and would promote disrespect for the law” and set a reconsideration hearing in July 2024.

This is the extreme action of the same law enforcement community that brought us the indefinite imprisonment of suspected teenage terrorists, tortures and killings in CIA prisons around the world and widespread disrespect for the democratic concepts of justice upon which this country supposedly was founded. These are the same institutions that have never treated indigenous peoples with dignity or respect or accepted any responsibility for centuries of intolerance and abuse.

At his parole hearing on July 28, Leonard Peltier expressed regret and accepted responsibility for his role in the incident in which the two FBI agents and one Native American activist died as the result of a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Mr. Peltier emphasized that the shootout occurred in circumstances where there literally was a war going on between corrupt tribal leaders, supported by the government, on the one hand, and Native American traditionalists and young activists on the other.

He again denied – as he as always denied – that he intended the death of anyone or that he fired the fatal shots that killed the two agents, and he reminded the hearing officer that one of his former co-defendants recently admitted to having fired the fatal shots himself.

Accordingly, it is not true that Leonard Peltier participated in “the execution style murders of two FBI agents,” as the Parole Commission asserts, and there never has been credible evidence of Mr. Peltier’s responsibility for the fatal shots, as the FBI continues to allege.

Moreover, given the corrupt practices of the FBI itself, it is entirely untrue that Leonard Peltier’s parole at this juncture will in any way “depreciate the seriousness” of his conduct and/or “promote disrespect for the law.”

We will continue to seek parole and clemency for Mr. Peltier and to eventually bring this prolonged injustice to a prompt and fair resolution.

Take action

News from North Dakota today is that Leonard Peltier’s parole has been denied. He won’t receive another full parole hearing until 2024, at the age of 79 years.

As sad as we all are, we are steadfast, undefeated. We will not go away. We will not be quiet.

Take a moment to reflect. Just a moment. But then put your disappointment behind you. Gather your strength. There’s much work to be done.

Action Item 1: Contact the Attorney General

On June 23, 1995, Amnesty International submitted a letter of concern about the Peltier case to the then U.S. Attorney General. There was no response. Write to Eric Holder, Attorney General. Ask him to conduct an executive review of the case and to finally right the wrongs of the past. Tell him it’s never too late to find the truth. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Write to Eric A. Holder, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20530-0001, (202) 353-1555.

And while you’re at it, ask Mr. Holder why more than 140,000 documents from a more than 30-year-old case are still being withheld by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Tell him America has a right to know what occurred over 30 years ago and demand the release of all documents related to the Peltier case.

Action Item 2: Contact Members of Congress

Use all the resources at your disposal to contact your members of Congress and continue urging them to support freedom for Leonard Peltier. That support should be formally expressed in correspondence to President Obama.

Also demand a full congressional investigation into the Reign of Terror on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the ‘70s. It’s long past time for the truth to be told. See http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/call.htm and http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/write.htm.

Do you use Twitter? Try using this service to quickly and easily reach your members of Congress: http://tcxs.net/.

You also can sign the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Pine_Ridge/.

Congress will not be in session for most of August. This is a good time to meet with your members of Congress in their home offices. Make the appointment now. You can find locations, telephone numbers etc. via our congressional directory: http://www.FreePeltierNow.org/congressmaster.htm.

Action Item 3: Call the White House

Call the White House comment line to express your outrage at the outcome of the parole hearing. Demand that President Obama free Peltier now. Call (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1112.

You also can send an e-mail to the White House. Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

If you prefer, mail or fax a letter: President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20500, fax (202) 456-2461.

Better yet … do all three. It’s time to set him free … because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

“When you begin a great work you can’t expect to finish it all at once; therefore, you and your brothers [and sisters] press on and let nothing discourage you until you have entirely finished what you have begun.” – Teedyuschung, chief of 10 Delaware tribes, died in 1763

To learn more, visit Friends of Peltier at http://www.FreePeltierNow.org or email contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info. The Bay View thanks Freedom Archives, www.Freedomarchives.org, for compiling this information. Questions and comments may be sent to claude[at]freedomarchives.org.

recently, dahr jamail wrote a great article called “kill the indian. save the man” for truthout in which he offers a great historical overview of how the united states actively worked to destroy the indigenous. of course, one method was imprisonment, but yet another was cultural genocide, specifically destroying the relationship between american indian tribes and their languages:

Steven Newcomb, a Shawnee/Lenape Native American and author of “Pagans in the Promised Land – Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery,” has written: “It’s a little known fact that the Catholic Church issued a number of papal edicts in the fifteenth century that set into motion patterns of colonization that became globalized over many centuries. In the documents “Dum diversas” (1452) and “Romanus Pontifex” (1455), for example, issued by Pope Nicholas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal, the pope “authorized” the king to send men to the Western Coast of Africa and “to invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue” all non-Christians, “to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery,” and to “take away all their possessions and property.” Such patterns of thought and behavior became institutionalized in law and policy, and the patterns are still operative against indigenous peoples today under the concept of “the State.”

An effective means to institutionalize this process was to indoctrinate Native American children at highly religious boarding schools run by the Department of Interior. The children were severed from their families on reservations with the ostensible aim of saving them from poverty.

The original boarding school idea came from Gen. Richard Henry Pratt who formed the Carlyle Indian School in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, in 1878. He wrote in “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian” 1880-1900 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973), 260-271, “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Systematically, his school and its later extensions stripped away tribal culture. Students were forced to drop their Native American names, barred from speaking in their native languages and forbidden to wear long hair. Punitive measures and torture were rampant.

Pratt’s conviction of moral superiority can be gathered from his views on slavery, “Inscrutable are the ways of Providence. Horrible as were the experiences of its introduction, and of slavery itself, there was concealed in them the greatest blessing that ever came to the Negro race – seven millions of blacks from cannibalism in darkest Africa to citizenship in free and enlightened America; not full, not complete citizenship, but possible – probable – citizenship, and on the highway and near to it.”

here is one way palestinians and indigenous americans are different: palestinians still have their language. although in 1948 palestine there are some serious barriers to arabic for palestinians, particularly given the way the education and exam system is set up so that there are only incentives for palestinians to become adept in hebrew and not in arabic in the same academic ways. but there are american indians who are actively working to resist all that jamail catalogs in the above-quoted article. al jazeera did a great piece about indigenous americans and language on rageh omaar’s program witness a month ago and it’s well worth watching. it’s directed by amy williams and it follows tish keahna who shows us how the wind river reservation has created an arapaho language immersion school to reverse the effects of centuries of killing indigenous languages:

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