Leonard Peltier on 35th anniversary of the firefight

The following excerpts are from a June 26 message written by Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was falsely arrested by the U.S. government months after June 26, 1975, shooting deaths of two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Peltier has been serving two life sentences since 1976. Go to tiny.cc/4zoqh/ to read the entire statement and tiny.cc/tv3bz to read about and get involved in his case.

It is vengeance that preoccupies the mind of the colonizer. It is this fervor to show us who is boss that led to the [1890] massacre at Wounded Knee, the theft of the Black Hills, the establishment of boarding schools, and the criminalization of our languages and traditional ways. It is vengeance that armed the goon squads, killed our leaders, and surrounded our people at Wounded Knee again in 1973. Revenge is why they today prosecute Indian people for the crimes they know the government committed during their murderous campaigns of the last generation. Vengeance is what killed Joe Stuntz, Anna Mae Aquash, Buddy Lamont and so many others. Getting even is what keeps me in prison. So don’t forget. Not ever.

All of these events are bound together, interrelated and interdependent. And quite clearly the lesson they intend for us to learn is: Don’t defend yourselves. Don’t stand up for what is right. Don’t think for yourselves. Don’t choose to be who you are. Don’t remember your ancestors. Don’t live in defense of the Earth. Don’t you do it! Don’t even think about it. If you do, this government — this mindset of control — will unleash an attack so vast it will even seek to destroy our genetic memories. So don’t forget. Not ever.

In days past, some among our people were induced to become “scouts.” For whatever reasons, these individuals made possible the treacherous campaigns that resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people. These days — sadly — there are still these types amongst us. The government preys on the weaknesses of these people, inducing them to turn against the rest of us. The government uses this treachery to cover up state-sanctioned murder and terrorism. They do this and then tell us that what we remember didn’t really happen at all, as though memory or truth is something to be shaped and molded to fit a preconceived outcome. So don’t forget. Not ever.

We gather today after decades and generations of blood and trauma. We gather in defiance. And we remember.

We remember not just one day or one event, because remembering what occurred on June 25 or June 26 — or any particular date — is important, but not as important as an understanding of the ongoing campaign of colonization. This is a continuing human drama of slaughter and uncontrollable bloodlust and we’re still here, engaged in our running defense; praying for balance, peace and justice; and trying to make some sense of it all. Perhaps, in the face of such a menace, the most important thing we can do is remember. So teach your children. Pass this knowledge. Don’t forget. Not ever.

Remembering is resisting, and if we remember, then we’ll be free one day. Free of their mindset. Free of their theft. Free of their guns and their bombs. Free of their cages. Free to be who we are.

And free of their fear. That’s the truest freedom of all, and true freedom is what this is really all about, not the illusion of freedom they offer us.

So don’t forget. Not ever.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

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