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Have You Thought of Leonard Peltier Lately?
Author Harvey Arden
Compiled &Edited by George Bowe Blitch
Published by HYT Publishering
pages: 219

A Review
By Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Marvin, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
Author of Expendable Elite – One Soldier’s Journey Into Covert Warfare

The day of their first meeting, author Harvey Arden writes on page 70, “Leonard reached out to me with his own two hands and gently gripped my shoulders; his eyes caught and captured mine.  ‘Harvey,’ he said softly, his eyes locked intensely on mine, ‘You need to know this personally.  I did NOT kill those agents... It’s important you believe that if we’re to work together’.”

  Harvey believed. He had earlier shared an eloquent philosophy regarding this book, telling that it “...wasn’t written.” wasn’t past history, instead and importantly “It was-and continues to be-lived.  What you read and see in these pages and in our companion website, are the artifacts of an ongoing struggle for one man’s freedom and for the self-respect of us all.”  He goes on to write within a letter to Leonard Peltier dated January 1, 1997 [See page 61) a statement which I earnestly believe you will agree to once you have perused the narrative, judiciously considered it and taken an in-depth look at the photos and  paintings within the book.  Only then will you fully comprehend why it is that Arden writes, “They may take your physical freedom, Leonard, but they cannot take your MEANING.”  This is an all-important book as it personifies the continuing plight and circumstance of the American Indian by way of a potpourri of recollections, writings and pertinent miscellany by and about Leonard Peltier, a man of integrity and courageous purpose.  As I write this he continues to suffer a degrading and humiliating existence brought on by a judicial system that seems hell-bent to keep a man imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. 

   This book will help those who truly desire to understand the plight of all American Indians, to learn the breadth and depth of negative societal influence on their day-to-day life and to comprehend what it is that they may expect with regard to future socio-economic existence.   You will discover that their very lives, lands and livelihood are continually monitored and their changing conditions predicated on the whims of those in power in this nation who, for the most part, wantonly disregard past treaties, sovereignty and constitutional safeguards so as to limit their individual or collective influence and deny them basic human rights

    Awesome to this reviewer is the manner in which Leonard Peltier stoically and steadfastly accepts the reality of his structured and indeed menial existence in a federal penitentiary while doing all that he can, within the physical constraints imposed by those empowered to control and discipline him, to further the cause of his people, those he knows and loves, and who yearn for his freedom.  He is most aptly classified, in the judgment of many, a political prisoner, one who has been consistently denied parole though the FBI itself admits not having evidence in hand to prove his guilt of the crimes for which he is imprisoned. 

    Leonard provides specific details regarding the pressure being applied through government apparatus using sophisticated NASA satellites and multinational energy corporations in an unwelcome venture meant to take tribal lands for resource development with little regard for ancient American Indian attempts to retain and protect those same lands.  Leonard writes it “like it is” on page 44 (a quote from his book “Prison Writings: My Life is my Sun Dance) “I have no doubt whatsoever that the real motivation behind both Wounded Knee II and the Oglala firefight, and much of the turmoil throughout Indian Country since the early 1970s, was-and is-the mining companies’ desire to muffle AIM [American Indian Movement] and all traditional Indian people, who sought-and still seek-to protect the land, water and air from the thefts and depredations.  In this sad and tragic age we live in, to come to the defense of Mother Earth is to be branded a criminal.” 

  It will be evident, after reading Chapter 2, “Entering a Shadowed World,” that Harvey was quite proper in what he said on page 103, “It seemed to me that the ‘corporate media’ had built a wall of silence around Leonard’s book as they had around Leonard himself and virtually all Indian people and struggles.”  Hence, this publication by HYT Publishing, an enterprise of loyal supporters of Leonard Peltier.

  As you permit, even encourage (when caught up by the powerful flow of often tortured words) your mind to flow through and take on the meaning of the many and varied writings and musings brought together in this historical work.  You will understand the complex legal nature of the why and wherefores associated with the keeping of Peltier as a political prisoner as attorney Barry A. Bachrach acquaints you with what he calls a “continuing manifestation of the injustice which this country continues to heap upon Leonard” and he details what he understands to be “the epitome of injustice” that is heaped on Leonard Peltier.  Not one to give up and surely one who is loyal to the core once convinced of the integrity of Leonard, even as I write this review, Barry Bachrach has filed a major law suit in Washington, DC, for two federal prisoners who claim that United States Department of Justice officials knowingly violated the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and illegally extended their prison terms for over a decade. “The suit was brought about by Leonard Peltier, now serving consecutive life sentences for the alleged killing of two FBI agents on June 26, 1975; &Yorie Von Kahl, serving life plus 15 years for the alleged killing of two U.S. Marshals on February 13, 1983.  After trial, undisputed evidence of government misconduct was uncovered in each of these controversial cases.” He goes on to point out that “The plaintiffs should have been given their release dates by October 11, 1989, minus sufficient time to exhaust appeals.  Had the Parole Commission followed the congressional mandate, Peltier would have been released over 12 years ago.  Lacking in any statutory authority, the U.S. Parole Commission in fact illegally extended the terms of imprisonment of both men.” 

  Leonard Peltier continues to be punished by the legal system, even as he is constituted as a write in candidate for President of these United States in a number of states, and even though those who have judged him wrongly are fully aware of the incredulous fact that our own FBI has informed the parole board they sit on that no evidence exists to point to Leonard as the cold-blooded killer of those two agents.  NONE!  I believe that Leonard said it best, “My name is Leonard Peltier, but I draw breath as the living embodiment of a greater cause than just one man’s freedom.  Every nation must include, as a part of its very fiber and rationalization, a constant demand and vigilance for justice.  More than anything I desire this, I pray for peace and justice.  One cannot truly exist without the other. 

    Harvey Arden concludes this important work with an impressive list of the achievements of Leonard Peltier that have convinced many, including myself, to recommend Leonard Peltier to the Norwegian Nobel Institute for award of the Nobel Peace Prize.   I urge all to get to know Leonard through the pages of this book and then to join the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, an organization devoted to freeing Leonard Peltier and all American Indians from unfair shackles imposed by a repressive “system” that disallows the rightful exercise of inherited freedom.



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