Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 22:54:07 -0500
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NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information
Subject: Leonard Peltier: Canadian update
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This letter by Standing Deer (a.k.a. Robert Wilson) was written for the people on the occasion of prisoner awareness week at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Nov. 10, 1994
Greetings to my dear sisters and brothers. I pray that you and those you love are well and enjoying all the blessings our Mother has to offer. I truly regret that I can not be there to see your determined faces, and to feel the electric charge that always fills the air wherever freedom fighters gather.
My name is Standing Deer. I am full-blood Oneida/Choctaw. Eighteen years ago, while doing compulsory expropriations from banking facilities, I zigged when I should have zagged and thus was captured and sent to the Control Unit at the political prison in Marion, Illinois. I have been locked down in super-max ever since...with no relief in sight.
Some of you folks may have read IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE by Peter Matthiessen. Peter's book recounts, with documentation, how in 1978 I was hired by agents of the United States to kill Leonard Peltier in Marion prison. Rather than kill him, I exposed the government conspiracy, first to Leonard, and then to the world. I'm not going to re-tell that long story, but I do want to tell you one incident that is sacred to me because with that one incident Leonard transformed my life, brought me home to my people, and put me dead in the middle of the political struggle for the survival of my people.
The government involved me in their conspiracy to assassinate Peltier in May of 1978, and although we were both in Marion prison I didn't actually meet him until the 4rth of July 1978, and although we were both in Marion prison I didn't actually meet him until the 4rth of July, 1978. It was a really hot afternoon and since Marion hadn't yet been locked down we were having a cook-out in the yard. It felt good just sitting with Leonard and several other brothers while Leonard talked about this and that. As the afternoon went on I could see the intensity and emotion beneath the surface of this man when he discussed the problems of his people. I could sense, rather than hear or see, the degree of love and total commitment he felt for the people. I saw the marks of flesh offerings and the piercings of the sun dance on his body, and I listened in awed reverence as he quietly told us about sacred matters. As I listened, I realized what a deeply religious man he was and I thought what an upside-down world we live in when the criminals of this world portray the victims as criminals and make 90% of the sleeping future victims believe in their charade.
Although I had not come to the yard with settled intentions of telling
him that the United States was scheming to take his life, I found
myself revealing the plot to him in all its sordid detail. I
didn't know what reaction to expect because in my heart I was not
pure. I reeked with shame. I harbored guilt because I wasn't sure
I was going to tell him until the moment I did it. Leonard silently
gazed at me for a long time, then he shook my hand as he looked into
my eyes with a look that radiated total love and trust. He smiled as
he softly said,
Thank you for telling me, my brother. The next
day Leonard and a 300-pound Lakota summoned me from my cell and took
me to the law library which was deserted. They led me into a room
where books were stored. The big man produced a length of rope while
Leonard placed a bandana blindfold over his own eyes. Leonard's
hands were tied securely behind his back, then the big man left the
room and the law library. We were completely alone.
Leonard told me to close the door and push a bookcase across it so
that it would not open. When I turned back around he was lying on his
back on the floor. He told me to reach behind the law books on the
third shelf and I would find a rolled-up newspaper and I should
withdraw it. When I picked up the newspaper it was very heavy and I
felt the hardness of something metal so I removed it from the paper
and I was looking at a 15- inch knife, beautifully made obviously in
the machine shop. It was razor sharp and had a point like a needle. It
gleamed the reflection of light in my eyes and I became so dizzy I
could hardly stand. The knife turned into a snake in my hand, and as I
stared paralyzed, it became the face of the blond, blue-eyed stranger
who wanted Leonard dead. As I looked into the blue eyes I saw the face
of the man who murdered my grandfathers and grandmothers. I was
terrified, but when I looked at Leonard he was smiling and I could
hear his smile and it sounded like a gentle waterfall. I could no
longer see through my tears but I heard the waterfall say,
whatever it is you have to do, my brother. And I fell to the floor
and cut his bonds and removed his blindfold and he had tears in his
eyes that looked like a rainbow. I discovered that I was weeping for
the first time since I was nine years old and my brother died. It was
then I knew I was coming home to my people.
From that day in Marion to the present I have thanked my lucky stars that he re-centered my life. He put me in touch with my roots and started me on the road to recovering the humanity that had been buried all my life under the conditioning of the culture of greed. For 18 years I have been held captive in the very worst of greed's Iron Houses. The reason I have been able to get out of bed each day is because I have a treasure: my wife, Anna and our children. The woman you see standing before you is my reason for existence. I have been blessed by having Anna by my side. Her love has never faltered. It's true the years have been cruel in mnay ways, but in a spiritual sense my family's love makes me feel like I've been living in a garden of roses with garlands connecting my spirit to Mother Earth. Together, we have dealt - and will deal - with whatever obstacles might confront us; our hopes and dreams of freedom and the future are still very much alive.
My prayers are with those of you who are working on this most
important project even at a time when the reactionary propaganda is
calling for our executions, or at least for them to lock us up and
throw away the key. In the words of William M. Kunstler, my all-time
...the estblishment will not rest until it roots out and
destroys all opposition. For that reason, those who challenge the
establishment must have the same tenacity. So let us breathe new
life into our efforts and let us be tenacious!!! We must free Mumia!
We must free Peltier! We must free all political prisoners and
prisoners of war!
To all of you who struggle in unity to free our encaged sisters and brothers, I extend the left hand of my left arm which is closest to my heart. Whatever you do, my life and strength are with you.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Standing Deer s/n Robert Wilson 640289 Ellis 1 Huntsville, Texas 77343 U.S.A.