Meanwhile, American Indian Activist Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of two consecutive life sentences in 1977 and remains locked up, released this statement yesterday, on what we colonizers call “Columbus Day,” and what Native Americans have renamed “Indigenous Day.”
Greetings my friends and relatives, supporters!
I know I say this same line all the time but in reality you all are my relatives and I appreciate you. I cannot say that enough. Some of our people, as well as ourselves have decided to call today Indigenous Day instead of Columbus Day and it makes me really think about how many People who still celebrate Columbus, a cruel, mass murderer who on his last trip to the Americas, as I have read, was arrested by his own people for being too cruel. When you consider those kinds of cruelty against our People and his status, it makes you wonder to what level he had taken his cruelty. In all of this historical knowledge that is available people still want to celebrate and hold in high esteem this murderer.
If we were to celebrate Hitler Day, or Mussolini Day, or some other murderer and initiator of violence and genocide, there would be widespread condemnation. It would be like celebrating Bush Day in Iraq. It’s kind of sad to say that even mentioning Columbus in my comments gives him more recognition that he should have. So I agree wholeheartedly with all of you out there that have chosen to call this Indigenous Day. If I weren’t Native American or as some of have come to say – Indigenous, I would still love our ways and cling to our ways and cherish our ways. I see our ways as the way to the future, for the world. Whereas I, and others, have said over and over, and our People before us: This earth is our Mother. This earth is life. And anything you take from the earth creates a debt that is to be paid back at some time in the future by someone.
In speaking of our ways I can’t help but think of times that our sweat lodge that I feel that we could be anywhere, that we are with the Indigenous People, in that time, those moments in our prayers and in our hearts there is no distance between us. I am no longer in a prison in Florida. I can be on the prairie in South Dakota or in a lodge in British Columbia or in a lodge in South America. Or even with some of my children in a family lodge. We all need to be thankful for what we have but we cannot afford to forget what has been taken from us. There is no amount of freedom that I could personally receive that would be restitution enough for what they have taken from me. But if in some way my incarceration and sacrifices for our People who came before me and throughout our Indigenous history serves as a pathway to a brighter future, a healthier earth, and for life of all mankind; if it would bring us together to be of one mind in protecting the future of our People, our children, and all the future generations upon the earth, then it will have been well worth it.
Indigenous Day should become a way of life that embraces all that promotes life and not just a few days out of the year. If you’re standing or sitting or whatever with whoever lives around you, give your loved ones a hug for me. Guard your freedom zealously. Rescue Mother Earth where you can. Sweat often and know that this common man, Leonard Peltier, will always be with you in the struggle, one way or another.
May the Great Spirit bless you with the things you need and enough to share.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Osceola, Geronimo, Chief Seattle and all those many others who stood for what was right and tried to right what was wrong.