Monday, June 23, 2014


significance of June 26, 1975, June 2, 2014
and June 13, 2014.

Leonard Peltier has repeatedly referred to himself as a “Political Prisoner.”

If we do ascribe that term to Peltier, then the Incident at Oglala—the killing of FBI Agents Coler and Williams—must take on an entirely different meaning.

If one is to accept that premise—then that June morning, Coler and Williams in their search for a fugitive didn’t just happen to, or accidentally spot, a red vehicle driven by Peltier with passengers Norman Charles and Joe Stuntz, thinking one of them may have been Jimmy Eagle.

(As a matter of clarification, there was no doubt, based on common belief and testimony at all the trials and among all who live on the Reservation, that white men in civilian clothes driving late model vehicles with antennas, were Feds. No mystery or misunderstanding on that point. Everyone knew who they were shooting at.)

If the American Indian Movement’s actions were politically motivated, that is to say, confronting historically perceived wrongs against Native Americans, then their act, with Peltier at the moment as the tip of the arrow, Coler and Williams were instead, lured off Highway 18 and into a trap and an ambush: A deliberate criminal act motivated by radical political views, backed by “extremist” (today they would be called terrorist) actions. Coler and Williams were then trapped in a deadly crossfire by AIM members and after both being severely wounded, were summarily executed. That’s the act of political defiance, violence and terrorism.

In what other way can we view this political/terrorist act other than in this sequence of events if Peltier himself wants to wear the label of “political prisoner?”

If Peltier, as do many of his followers believe he is a political prisoner, then the deaths of Agents Coler and Williams can only be viewed from one other perspective. So then, not by inference, but admission, Leonard Peltier the political prisoner must also be branded an assassin. The attacking and assassination of the agents was then for some political gain, a violent act to demonstrate their extremist political influence, their ongoing violence-fueled radicalism with, and hatred for, the United States government. 
Peltier, although born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, has said “…that I don’t consider myself an American citizen.”  Peltier’s disassociation with being an American citizen is irrelevant because he committed the highest of felonies, murder, within this country.

On June 2, 2014 Peltier may have seen a ray of light, a slight ring of hope, peaking through the muggy overcast as he lumbered along through the yard at Florida’s Coleman Penitentiary, or perhaps he heard the news on the day-room television that the President had made an unapologetic exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl for five of the high-value Taliban detainees from Guantanamo.

Peltier may have jumped for joy learning that documented killers with American blood on their hands; acknowledged, unrepentant and dangerous enemies of the United States had, in a manner of speaking, received a grant of clemency.

However, the President made it clear that this was in effect an exchange of prisoners of war, and the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the power to negotiate prisoner exchanges and repatriate hostages. The nature of the war on terrorism we now face is global, without defined borders or an easily identified enemy. No matter what Sgt. Bergdahl’s ultimate fate may be will rest with the military authorities.

Sgt. Bergdahl is not a Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier is not a POW.

Peltier and his supporters opinion will differ about the exchange, but then from what war was Peltier taken prisoner? From which battlefield? Was Jumping Bull on June 26, 1975 a paramilitary skirmish where AIM forces drew its line in the sand and killed two enemy combatants? One can easily recognize the absurdity of such an argument.

Peltier should not expect a Rose Garden ceremony and realize that Bergdahl’s situation and the release of the detainees has no bearing on his conviction for murder (and as Peltier has often tried to dismiss), aiding and abetting in the murder of Agents Coler and Williams.

Through the prison walls one can almost hear Peltier’s thoughts, “Hey, I only killed two FBI agents, why not let me out?”

Not going to happen; apples and oranges, and diametrically opposed circumstances.

June 13th marked an important date of only the forth time in American history a sitting President visited a Reservation (Calvin Coolidge, 1927; Franklin Roosevelt, 1936) and, much to the dismay and lament of Leonard Peltier, Bill Clinton in 1999.

It was during that visit, to of all places, Pine Ridge, that President Clinton, when asked about Peltier, responded, “Who’s Leonard Peltier,” which prompted Peltier’s famous characterization that “These politicians are such sleazebags.” (Footnote #1)

While at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota the President and First Lady met with the children, spoke with tribal elders and leaders and watched a “Flag Day Powwow” celebration. (For Peltier’s edification the Flag Day was for the American Flag, a tradition dating back to the late 1700s.)

What the President did say was that he was announcing plans to reform the Bureau of Indian Education to better educate native children and increase tribal control of schools, remove regulatory barriers to infrastructure and energy development, encourage the use of tax-exempt bonds for economic development, that his administration has given back land to tribes and worked one-on-one with tribal governments and cracking down on crime in Indian Country. (Fn #2)

What the President didn’t say was that he would give any consideration to an unrepentant murderer who made it clear to all that he would “…if necessary, do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.” (Fn. 3)

The President should show Peltier as much mercy as Peltier showed Jack Coler and Ron Williams…none.

“In the Sprit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

2) Washington Post, June 13, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Dear Supporters: 

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.
(Fn #3)

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”
Ed Woods

1) Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, p.552

*The next NPPA blog will examine the significance regarding Peltier and June 2, 2014.