Excerpts from a “Distribute Widely” May 11th Press Release:
“The Oglala Commemoration is very happy to announce the 15th Annual Oglala Commemoration Event / 2nd Annual Leonard Peltier Day on June 26, 2014, Oglala, South Dakota. This event is open to all Leonard Peltier family, friends and supporters. BUT NOT NON BELEVIERS…Day begins at Noon with Prayer Ceremony at Little Family Cemetery, (place of Joe Stunts gravesite)…‘March for Justice’ follows to the Jumping Bull Property…Main Security – AIM Grassroots…This event is part of Leonard’s Humanitarian Efforts for “Let the Great Healing Begin.” This is a NO Drug, Alcohol, Violence or Ego event.”
(The capitalizations are theirs and one would think they would at least spell Stuntz’s name correctly.)
Let’s examine Peltier’s Press Release.*
Commemorate: (Webster’s) To exist or be done in order to remind people of; to do something special in order to remember and honor (an important event or person from the past).
They’re “very happy.”
In a perverse sense they are entitled to be, however, inmate #89637-132 remains in Coleman Penitentiary.
June 26th, 1975: Jumping Bull, Pine Ridge, South Dakota: Three (3) dead.
Joe Stuntz: The first question to ask is who should the Stuntz family be angry with concerning his death? The answer is simple. Leonard Peltier. Peltier and Peltierites would like to frame this as Joe Stuntz’s murder. But look at the facts.
After the initial attack on Agents’ Coler and Williams they were both brutally murdered with point-blank blasts, destroying their faces. It’s likely, or possible, that Stuntz may have even witnessed those final moments. We do know, however, what he did next: “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 remembers. “I didn’t think nothing of it at the time; all I could think of was, we got to get out of here.” (Footnote #1)
So imagine the scene; two dead and mutilated men at his feet while he steals the dead agent’s FBI jacket and gives Peltier a smile as the rest of the AIM cowards steal their weapons.
Stuntz and the others—Norman Brown, for example, gives us a graphic description of having Agent Adams’ head in his sights—shoot at the agents and officers responding to Agent Williams’ radio calls for assistance. Stuntz is later shot and found wearing Agent Coler’s jacket. (Fn #2)
Had it not been for the would-be warrior Peltier, who chose to fire at the agents and start the gunfire placing not just the agents, but all the AIM members present and Angie Long Visitor and her family in jeopardy and danger, Joe Stuntz would probably still be alive today. Joe Stuntz followed Peltier to his own death.
It is difficult, if not nearly impossible not to engage in persiflage when speaking or writing about Peltier and his dwindling support network.
NON BELIEVERS: Give them an “A” for transparency. That’s right, if you don’t buy into the Peltier the Warrior, Peltier the Victim scam, sprinkled with four decades of lies, fabrications and statements from Peltier himself that remove any doubt as to his actual guilt, then you’re uninvited.
However, this does make it official. Leonard Peltier is a cult.
A cult; along, (Peltier would love to believe he has that much influence), with the likes of Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Marshall Applewhite and others. The Peltierites have taken the full measure of Cool Aid and perhaps, even their mysterious patron saint, Mr. X, may become an apparition at Jumping Bull. Or, Harry David Hill may make another masked appearance. Let’s not forget Peltier’s own words in Redford’s remake of Matthiessen’s tale, Incident at Oglala; “This story is true,” Leonard said, as he affirms the two-decade long lie of Mr. X killing the agents.
Peltierites fall into one of a number of diverse categories. Some well-meaning who are fundamentally opposed to incarceration; some who believe he’s actually innocent; those who ascribe to the historical burden of white-man’s debt to Native Americans; the America-haters who use Peltier as a prop but don’t have the courage of their own conviction, and if the U.S.A. is really that bad of a place, they could just leave. (The Jericho Movement is a classic example. Isn’t it a conundrum for them that no one is trying to escape from America? A quandary they abuse without understanding why. They are free to go.); those who bought into the myth and fabrications and have neither the time nor energy to do some serious research; those, who no matter what they hear from Peltier, his many contradictions, false alibis—statements that are tantamount to admissions of guilt—accept the warrior/victim scam no matter what; European factions who voice their opinions but don’t have a dog in this particular fight; perhaps now even cultists, and, maybe the worst kind, the wannbe’s. Those who adopt Indian sounding names and parade around championing a cause they can only defend with diversions from the facts.
Peltier’s comingling with his supporters has a simple premise with but two sides; he is either using them, or being used by them. Either way, the fraud is transparent.
But amidst all the low-frequency cultural noise surrounding the Myth of Leonard Peltier, he has not deceived his followers as much as they have deceived themselves.
Main Security – AIM Grassroots: If this is a solemn ceremony as they imply, and if non-believers aren’t on the guest list, then why would security be an issue? It’s just a peaceful gathering to remember one of three who died that June day. Have there been security issues at prior events? Besides, and this cannot be ignored, as AIM’s history has confirmed, having them around creates it’s own danger.
Humanitarian Efforts: On that note Peltier has been dared to either put-up or shut-up. His humanitarian efforts do not, have not, and never will stand up to any scrutiny. It’s all part of the ruse that brings money to the coffers but never produces anything of value in return. Disclose your finances, he has been asked…even at one point his own people were demanding “transparency,” but that never happened and never will. It’s all part of the smoke and mirror’s routine supported by the unknowing. This is just another fork in the road, part of Peltier’s “Let the great healing begin,” which in Peltierspeak means, let the check-writing and “tax deductible” donations continue. (Fn #4).
This is a NO Drug, Alcohol, Violence or Ego event: That covers a lot of contradictions. If it is what it’s supposed to be, you know, a commemoration with invited like-minded believers, with a prayer at a cemetery, a march for justice to visit where Peltier started this whole disaster to begin with, then why is it that those attending have to be warned not to include or indulge in drugs, alcohol and violence? Is that what this is all about? Keeping the followers in check? They can’t even set one day aside and act like responsible adults?
The Ego part is almost humorous. Peltier will be nearly 2,000 miles away in central Florida so the biggest ego is too far away to matter, that is unless some of the other outsized AIM egos should appear and try to steal the show as they have been known to do.
March for Justice: There was another March for Justice where nearly a thousand FBI and law enforcement men and women gathered at the Law Enforcement Memorial on a crisp December morning in 2000. They went in a dignified, orderly and respectful procession to the White House carrying a banner “In Memory” and a large photo each of their fallen comrades where a representative delivered over 10,000 petitions asking the President not to consider clemency for the murderer Peltier. The President didn’t but there’s another part of that story as well. Those attending didn’t have to be reminded about how they should dress, act or conduct themselves at that solemn event. Notwithstanding, Jennifer Harbury, another “former” Peltier attorney (no surprise they never last), was quoted in a Washington paper describing the event as “Armed Agents Marching on Washington.” So typical of the Peltier spin on events. If it doesn’t fit their narrative, then freedom of speech, a First Amendment right of free expression is diminished and stifled, or worse yet, labeled with ignorant comments. In other words, free speech for me, but not for thee. Although, these tactics do have a name (Fn #5).
Of course Peltier never testified at his own trial. He had a right not to and his attorney’s were smart not to allow it. However, his public statements and interviews have all the weight of the testimony we never heard. Everyone, Believers and Non-Believer’s are invited to watch and listen to some of the YouTube videos of Peltier as he stumbles and mumbles through interviews, sometimes even contradicting what he just said. His sincerity is pathetically absent as he gropes to find an answer that fits into the many flimsy narratives he’s offered in the past; the lies and versions of events he’s unable to keep straight.
If it’s anything like prior commemorations, which were minor and poorly attended events, it won’t draw much attention anyway. The FBI, BIA and Tribal Police could care less. Perhaps the Tribal Police may provide coverage for the safety of those parking or walking on Highway 18.
However, there will be another celebration that day as tens of thousands of dedicated men and women from municipalities to the federal government remember. Those dedicated individuals who wear a badge and are willing to place themselves in harms way to protect the innocent, assist victims and enforce the laws of this nation against criminal elements. They will remember Leonard Peltier and the other cowards of Jumping Bull and honor the memory and sacrifice and in-the-line-of-duty deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams. They will mark this event by remembering that just four years ago Peltier’s own description of June 26, 1975 was, “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.”
“Because it was the right thing to do” will reverberate among the hills surrounding Jumping Bull and across the country and will marginalize an unrepentant and remorseless murderer. Yes, in a single moment, for whatever his real motivations were that day, his life changed as much as any man’s possibly could. Yet the reality is that Peltier was still the same person the day before and all the days since.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
1) Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, p.552
*The next NPPA blog will examine the significance regarding Peltier and June 2, 2014.