In the section of Peltier’s website whoisleonardpeltier.info under Resources; Peltier Supporters; Native American and Tribal Leaders, there is a list of 46 entries of various descriptions. (Footnote 1)
What follows is a review of this list and summarization as to whether Peltier’s claims of widespread support within Native America is valid:
The list contains three individuals, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Chief Wallace Dennison and Shawn A-in-chut Atleo (Canada)
(Any Canadian support for Peltier must be ignored. It is a matter of record that Peltier was lawfully extradited from Canada as was officially confirmed by the Canadian Minster of Justice. Fn.2)
There is one Association; First Nations School Association whose stated mission is “promoting education in British Columbia (Canada).” Once again, another foreign entity that has no legal authority or rights under American jurisprudence.
There are two Committees:
Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, which according to its website consists of nine elected members who govern the Nez Perce Tribe. A search feature available on this website showed no results for Leonard Peltier.
Prairie Island Indian Committee: Although no reference was found regarding a committee on the website, the Tribal Council consists of five elected members who govern the tribe.
There is one ‘Assembly:’ Assembly of First Nations of Canada, an “Advocacy Organization Representing First Nations Citizen’s in Canada.”
Honor the Earth is a Native American non-profit for environmental justice.
The listing of the National Congress of American Indians has a special note to “see the historic 2011 resolution here.” According to the NCAI website it was “organized as a representative congress of American Indians and Alaska Natives that serves to develop consensus on national priority issues that impact tribal sovereignty.” In other words it is an umbrella and advisory organization on Native issues and doesn’t actually represent or have authority over its constituent members.
A review of the referenced “2011 resolution” lists approximately six factual errors as it welcomes the opportunity to develop a “strategy” to meet with then President Obama for consideration of clemency. The resolution also states that Peltier had been “nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the sixth consecutive year.” (Being nominated or a Nobel Prize [and Peltier for the ‘Peace’ Prize] is an ongoing yarn. A joke of sorts that is even recognized as such by the Nobel Committee itself, which has stated, “…so being proposed for the prize is no distinction in itself.” (Tell that to Peltier supporters.) (Fn. 3)
The list includes 18 Councils that we can assume for the moment may have passed some type of resolution providing support for Peltier. If Council members voted to provide support for Peltier that in no manner suggests that members they represent collectively endorsed the resolution.
Peltier’s list includes 15 Native tribes and nations, from small groups like Duckwater Shoshone Tribe with 288 members to entire Nations like the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Navajo Nation consisting perhaps of tens of thousands of Native American tribal members, which begs the question: If the leadership of those Nations passed some sort of resolution supporting Peltier does that mean that every member of the Nation also supports Peltier?
To assume that every member of all these Tribes and Nations supports Peltier—or perhaps even know who he is, is sheer folly. It’s a predictable Peltier ploy and absurdity that he would expect us to believe that he has complete support from every tribal member when, in some instances, the council or leadership agrees on some support for Peltier. Are we to expect that tribal leadership took a survey of all tribal members and received a hundred percent agreement? That would be a senseless conclusion. Many Native Americans have recognized that the American Indian Movement has done little for the benefit of Native American culture. To the contrary, many have recognized that Peltier and AIM created more conflict than any benefits they ever claimed. Even a casual review of AIM’s tumultuous history and leadership would support their conclusions and that fact.
* * *
Nevertheless, let’s give Peltier the not wholly deserved benefit of the doubt and for the sake of argument allow acknowledgment for all “46” on the “Supporters” list, even including the foreign entities from Canada and Native support, cultural, environmental and non-profit organizations. Let’s give him temporary credit for the whole thing.
Nevertheless, the latest information from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs indicates that there are five hundred and seventy three (573) registered tribes in the United States.
Even if, for the sake of debate, we were to credit Peltier with all 46 on the list of Peltier Supporters this would represent only eight percent (8.3%) of the total number of recognized and registered tribes. Hardly a significant number to write home about. (Removing the foreign Canadian and other non–Tribal organizations would reduce this percentage to an even more embarrassing level.)
The inference, notwithstanding Peltier’s claims of extensive Native American support to the contrary, places this list on par with the rest of the Peltier myth.
Peltier’s claims of widespread Native American support has as much validity as his claims for his questionable fund raising and alleged philanthropic activities. (Fn.4)
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
ADDENDUM: More Supporters?
On Peltier’s website the list of “Supporters” continues with ten additional categories of 206 individuals and entities ranging from “Nobel laureates” to “and more.” (Fn.5)
It would be a complete waste of valuable time to vet the entire list, however, it’s not difficult to identify the ones that are just too obvious to ignore or not challenge. The low hanging fruit is very easy to pick.
Under “Foreign Parliaments and Commissions” Peltier wants supporters to believe that the entire “European Parliament” supports him and his bid for clemency. That’s quite a bold claim, but not so fast.
There is a ‘written declaration’ dated 10/24/16 (with an “elapse date” of 1/24/17; that’s a total of about three months!). According to the official entry the declaration was signed by “29 signatories” and submitted under “Rule 26.” This written declaration contains two glaring factual errors as it calls for Executive Clemency: The same glaring errors that are commonplace in Peltier folklore and challenged repeatedly by the NPPA.
So what does this actually mean?
The European Parliament is made up of 28 member States of the European Union and 751 members elected for five-year terms.
In real terms with the 29 signatories who signed on to support Peltier and with 751 Parliament members, Peltier’s support among the European Parliament is a staggering (with obvious sarcasm) 3.86%. Four percent hardly provides bragging rights. Although it does suggest a significant misrepresentation of the truth.
But that’s just the obvious part. More significantly, stated at the bottom of the ‘Written Declaration’ is the following; “…is published in the minutes with the names of the signatories and forwarded to the addressees, without however binding Parliament.”
In other words, simply a meaningless Peltier claim.
Peltier, as he has done for so many years, is playing the “Hey, look over here” game when there is nothing of substance in many of his claims. There is no there, there.
Noble Laureates: Nine are listed. There are currently 935 total Nobel recipients, so for Peltier this represents less than one percent (0.96). As referenced above with a footnote, there is a pattern to all this.
Literary Artists, Musicians and Celebrities: Jane Fonda.
Of all people, Leonard Peltier should not have accepted an endorsement from the likes of Hanoi Jane. By Peltier’s own words in Prison Writings (p.17) his father, Leo “…served in World War II, getting machined-gunned (sic) in the legs for his effort; his brother, my uncle Ernie was killed in battle.” Fonda is an anathema to every family member of those who served their country, and the all too many who died defending democracy.
Yet there was a time when Fonda was hawking Peltier’s prison artwork for sale. If Peltier had any reverence for his father’s wartime service and his uncle’s ultimate sacrifice he should have denounced Fonda for what she really is, a traitor who aided and abetted the enemy, smiling and clapping on a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun that shot down, and resulted in American airmen being killed or imprisoned and tortured. Fonda is a loathsome individual who should have been prosecuted for her treasonous actions. Why she wasn’t is a topic for another time and place. But, unsurprisingly, she’s in bed with Peltier.
Scholars: Ward Churchill. Really? Peltier counts among his ‘supporters’ the disgraced wannabe who fraudulently claimed Native American heritage and his stolen valor alleging to be an Army airborne Ranger who participated in long-range reconnaissance patrols in Viet Nam, when military records show he was trained as film projectionist and light truck driver. So much for disgracing Peltier’s Native heritage as well as his own father and uncle. But likely Peltier doesn’t recognize the irony of having support from the likes of the disgraced Ward Churchill.
Legal: Honorable 8thCircuit Court Judge Gerald Heaney (RIP). It’s ironic that Peltier invokes support from Judge Heaney without placing it within its proper context. Judge Heaney felt very strongly about Native American issues and did write two letters expressing his ‘feelings’ on Peltier and Native American issues. However, Judge Heaney, each time the Peltier matter came before the 8thCircuit Court voted against Peltier’s interests, not on any technicality as Peltier tried to claim in the past, but on the law. Judge Heaney never suggested that Peltier was innocent either, quite the opposite, and when interviewed Judge Heaney stated that Peltier got a “fair trial, not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.” (For more details see the following editorial essay, Fn. 6)
Peltier supporters come in several predictable categories:
-Those who have a genuine concern for the historic ill-treatment of First Americans; being forced from their native lands onto substandard and often desolate Reservations, decimating their lifestyle and culture and every treaty broken by the government. They can even sympathize with Peltier who did grow up on a Reservation but they ultimately fail believing that any consideration for the murderous Peltier will correct wrongs of the past.
-Those who use Peltier, without him recognizing it, for their own ego or notoriety.
-Those who either forgot, or deliberately ignore the years long phony alibi and the lie of Mr. X.
-How many of those on the list have ever taken the time and effort to go beyond the superficial Peltier, beyond the myth and folklore; reading the trial and hearing transcripts, the many appeals that answer all of Peltier’s spurious allegations of a wrongful conviction and shallow claims of innocence; his own public statements some of which support a notion of his guilt; his media interviews, press releases and his own book, and the list goes on. The number of those is very small and with only a few very minor exceptions; such as Judge Heaney and Peter Matthiessen, who obviously came to opposite conclusions, although Matthiessen provided some details that Peltier would sooner forget.
There is much more to criticize but the lists of Peltier supporters are nothing more than a red herring creating a sizeable gap between Peltier rhetoric and reality. But based on forty-four years of myth and folklore, none of this is surprising.
1) This is the same list on the website as the link to “selected statements of support.”
2) Canadian Minister of Justice, A. Anne McLellan letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, 10/12/1999: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/canadaletter.html
3) Background regarding the Nobel Peace Prize and Leonard Peltier:
Restriction against a nominee making a public disclosure:
4) A history of Peltier’s fund raising and alleged philanthropic activities, 2004, 2006, 2007: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#fraud
5) On whoisleonardpeltier.info is a section relating to the International Forum with signatures on a boilerplate petition and a ‘complete’ list of VIPs and supporters. The links to pages that do not go to ‘no page found’ reflect letters with the same tired rhetoric that is the bedrock of Peltier myth and folklore. In other words, supporters offering erroneous information and skewed facts. There are also some photos with not thousands or hundreds but only a handful of people with Peltier signs.
6) See the third section of this editorial essay regarding Judge Heaney’s involvement in the Peltier case: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html