Leonard Responds to the Recent Arrest of John Boy Graham in Vancouver, BC
December 5, 2003
It is obvious to anyone who looks at the past few years with an open mind and a remembrance of COINTELPRO, that the FBI’s program of misinformation and discrediting of activists is alive and well. I encourage all who come into contact with this finger-pointing behavior to also look at the person pointing.
Your commitment to a cause, for the most part has to include a dedication to non-combat with your own people. If you get caught up in a combative cycle you will spend most of your time fighting rumors and accusations and each other. When we talk of sovereignty, we must be willing to solve our own problems and not go running to the oppressor for relief.
Since the Patriot Act was passed, the government has gone back through records and is trying to re-file on anyone it can, in any way. If you look at the history of colonization world-wide, the oppressor always identifies the individuals within the resistance movement that they can buy off and starts funding them. They likewise start neutralizing their opposition by discrediting individual leaders by whatever means necessary; it is the old “Divide and Conquer” routine.
There are a lot of people in Indian Country claiming to know this or that about someone else. Ask for proof, if you’re going to consider their words. All the rumor mongers have scenarios they’ve come up with to, in essence, set a trap for anyone willing to listen.
My father once said that our greatest weaknesses have always been booze, flattery and jealousy. If you look closely, you will find one or more of these at the foundation of the finger pointing. Growing up, I always heard my people say, “Ignore people’s misstatements about you and live your life so that all can see your true character”.
With today’s technology of media, it has been found through surveys that a statement, whether true or not, is taken for truth if not countered within a 24-hour period. As the old saying goes, “A lie will travel around the world, while the truth is just putting its boots on”. I have been in prison for over 27 years because of lies about myself, my people and my culture so I am sensitive to those who would make quick judgments without knowing the facts of a case. Notice that I say “knowing”, not “believing”.
I fear that John Boy will not receive a fair trial in the US anymore than I did. I must remind you, it is court record that the FBI lied to extradite me back to the US. I know that their behavior hasn’t changed just as I know that Anna Mae was not an informant. As much as I want justice for Anna Mae, I likewise do not want an injustice to be enacted against one of our own in the name of crime-solving – so that some finger-pointing government lackey can get a feather in his cap.
The death of Anna Mae should be considered Indian Business – Indigenous Nation to Indigenous Nation. We still have within the framework of our culture the capacity to deal with our own problems and mete out the appropriate punishment, according to the offense. Anna Mae was a victim of the oppressor – any person who had part in her death likewise, in some form is and always will be a victim; for what person can ever feel good about the death of a beautiful young Indian woman, mother and activist for her people? Those responsible for her death, whether they pulled the trigger or not, must surely suffer strongly from their own fears as to want someone as her no longer among the living.
Some of my brothers and I once had a conversation about such possibilities and it was unanimous: we are not here to fight our own people and to take the life of even one of our own would discredit our cause. Likewise, it will not serve us to take the life of anyone. Our battles have always been in defense and to keep the enemy back while using the media to let average Americans know what was being done to our people in their name with their tax dollars.
Someone once said that you can measure the stature of a man by the size of his enemy. With that in mind, I say to our people,
“We have been and still are at odds with the most dangerous, well-funded, strongest military and political organization in the history of the world.”
If you sometimes feel overwhelmed, as I sometimes am, then remember Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Osceola, Tecumseh and a host of others – you are in good company.
I am proud to be a Native American because my people before me stood up against overwhelming odds so that I might have a chance to exist. They were successful, as I am living proof. I pray to the Creator that the future generations will feel the same about us because we will stand up and will be successful and they will be living proof.
Stay Strong My Relatives.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
[Source: Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, http://www.freepeltier.org]