LEONARD: Political Prisoner

Treaties, Goons, and G-Men (Part 1)

July 16, 2020 Man Bites Dog Films Season 1 Episode 3
LEONARD: Political Prisoner
Treaties, Goons, and G-Men (Part 1)
Show Notes Transcript

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation—full of gold, uranium, and oil—contains some of the most valuable land on the planet. But the Federal Government didn’t know that when they originally granted the territory to the Lakota in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. So for the next 100 years, the U.S. secretly took back the land piece by piece: ultimately with the help of Dick Wilson, the dictatorial Tribal Chairman of Pine Ridge, and his private militia, the GOON squad.

Episode 3: Treaties, Goons, and G-Men (Part 1)

KENDALL CUMMING
I felt that it was important that I confirm whether the agents were dead or not. And I asked Mr. Bear Runner to go with me down to the site of the shooting. We walked together down the road and dropped off of the hill into the little valley where the car was and the two agents were lying dead beside it.

VO
That's Kendall Cumming, superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs talking to NPR reporter Kevin McKiernan at the site of the Pine Ridge shootout on June 26th, 1975. And the Mr. Bear Runner he mentions? That's Edgar Bear Runner.

KENDALL CUMMING
It was obvious that they were dead at the time. And we observed it, the situation, and shortly after that, we went back up the hill to the perimeter. And word came back that the decision would be mine. By that time it was beginning to get late, I was concerned that something would have to be done, so I made the decision that we would assault the houses at 5:30.

VO
You’re listening to LEONARD: a new podcast series about Leonard Peltier, the longest-serving political prisoner in American history. I’m Andrew Fuller.

And I’m Rory Owen Delaney. We’ve spent the last year working to share Leonard’s story with a new generation of people: who he is, how he ended up behind bars, and why we believe he deserves to go free.  

If you’re just tuning in, we often use the term 'Indian' in this podcast -- rather than just 'Native American' or ‘Indigenous’ -- because that's the word Leonard, Edgar Bear Runner, and all the other Lakota we spoke with use to describe themselves. 

None of these names is accurate. Even the word “Sioux” is a European misinterpretation. The Ojibwe, who were feuding with the Lakota, called their rivals a word meaning “Cutthroat,” which to English speakers sounded like “Sioux.” And when the English speakers wrote the Ojibwe word for cutthroat down, they spelled “Sioux” like a French word, with a silent “X.” 

In other words, shit is all messed up. 

Back in episode 1 we began digging into the events that led up to the shootout on the Jumping Bull Ranch on June 26, 1975. A shootout that left an Indian, Joe Stuntz, and two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, dead.

Three men -- all members of the American Indian Movement (or AIM) -- were eventually tried for the murders of special agents Coler and Williams: Bob Robidoo, Dino Butler, and Leonard Peltier.

No one was charged for the killing of Joe Stuntz.

44 years later, Leonard Peltier is still in prison.

If he's ever going to get out, it will be in no small part because of the advocacy of Edgar Bear Runner: a member of the Oglala Sioux who was present the day of the shootout, and acted as an intermediary between the Indians under siege on Jumping Bull Ranch, and the law enforcement agencies that were invading the compound.

EDGAR
I think Barack Obama was the right person to free Peltier but didn't.

VO
This is Edgar.

EDGAR
We got to keep educating the national community about what really happened here, you know. We were blindsided. A smokescreen was created to divert our attention away from the theft of our land here on Pine Ridge reservation.

EDGAR
It's a cheap shot but even though you're innocent in some of the cities the jury will still find you guilty. So now it's a national crusade to get the voters involved and to push for clemency. Millions and millions of people all over the world have affixed their signatures in support of Leonard's freedom. And there's still nothing happening.

VO
When we introduced Edgar in episode 1, he was helping us find Angie Long Visitor, now Angie Two Lances. He believes the FBI held her in jail on false charges in order to coerce her to give Grand Jury testimony against Leonard in November, 1975. 

But we’ll be coming back to Angie—and all the other madness surrounding Leonard’s trial—in Season 2. We realized we need to spend more time in Season 1 looking into why tensions were running so high on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970s. 

In Episode 1 we looked into the history of the American Indian Movement and their conflict with the Federal Government.

In the first half of this 2-part episode, we’re going to dig in even deeper—with the help of Edgar Bear Runner, Milo Yellow Hair, Ward Churchill, Kevin McKiernan, and Chase Iron Eyes.

ANDREW
Got a bit of rain today. We have a lot of traffic. Everyone’s in town for what’s it called: Primus?

RORY
Sturgis. Primus?

VO:
When Rory and I first made plans to meet Edgar Bear Runner on the Pine Ridge Reservation, we didn’t realize we’d be flying into Rapid City, South Dakota two days before Sturgis: the largest motorcycle rally in the world.  Motel and car rental prices had doubled. The streets were clogged. 

But we managed to escape the hordes and track down Edgar's house on the outskirts of town. Edgar has lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation for almost his entire life. But he's been dealing with health issues lately.

He didn’t know what was wrong. He just knew he felt horrible. But when he went to see Indian Health Services on Pine Ridge, the doctors told him he had arthritis.  

The Indian Health Service is an operating division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides medical care to members of federally-recognized Native American Tribes and Alaska Native peoples.

And it may come as no surprise that the IHS, underfunded and understaffed, has a less-than-stellar reputation.

So Edgar made sure to seek a second opinion off the reservation. A hospital in Rapid City agreed he had arthritis. But an oncologist there also diagnosed Edgar with Stage 4 prostate and bone cancer.

So Edgar moved with his wife and five granddaughters to be nearer the Rapid City facility where he sees a conventional doctor. But Edgar believes he's alive right now because of a mixture of western and traditional medicine.

EDGAR
<<LAKOTA PRAYER SONG>>

EDGAR
Grandfather, Great Spirit, I call upon you to give me the strength that I need to continue to walk the red road. The red road is that traditional highway you built for us so that we can relate to you.

RORY
Wakan Tonka. That is, uh, the name of the Great Spirit, right?

EDGAR
Yeah. <<Lakota>>... Grandfather, uh, <<Lakota>> Great Spirit. Great Spirit. And uh, those are the ones that give us, uh, our healing. Our restoration of health. That's, uh, they're the ones that brought me back to health. If I was a white man, I would have been dead by now tell you the truth. Uh, but at the last minute, at the 11th hour, I, uh, involved our religion. Invoking our ancient healing ceremonies because the white man medicine gave up on you.

EDGAR
Now just stay on this, straight out of town. You know there's a hangman's tree up here. 

EDGAR
The hangman's tree was utilized by the hate mongers as an alternative [13:02] justice system so here in South Dakota like a native guy was thought to steal or did something against the law. They would take him to that tree without a court hearing or anything and hang him. So we have a hangman's tree just like in the south they're hanging blacks randomly. 

EDGAR
So there's a tree here that is still up. Somebody trying to burn it down but they saved it and they put the fire out. Racist reminder.

VO
Edgar has agreed to take us to Jumping Bull Ranch, the site of the firefight that put Leonard in prison 44 years ago. Oglala, the district of Pine Ridge that Jumping Bull is a part of, is a 90-minute drive from Rapid City. And we’ll finally set foot on that soil in part 2 of this episode.

EDGAR
I lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation my entire life I was born and raised on the reservation. I just started for the first time in my life moved off the reservation because I'm taking care of five grandchildren that were given to us five years ago, seven years ago, and we still got them. 

And we're raising them like our own but the biggest disappointment though is when an Indian family takes care of five children Indian family gets only seven hundred and thirty dollars for five children. Now if you took them and you're white you took them, they would give you seven hundred dollars per child so you see these disparities…

EDGAR
I want to stick to one issue. I'm jumping around. I don't like that.

ANDREW
Don't even worry about it. 

EDGAR
Because something might be connected or related to this issue here.

EDGAR
Yeah I know my mind is starting to work again yeah I'm really glad because very very seldom does stage 4 prostate and bone cancer patients survive.

VO
Edgar goes off on a lot of tangents. It might be the meds, like he says. But more likely it's that the history of the Lakota, like the history of all Native Americans, is a minefield of massacres, displacements, broken treaties, and unequal treatment under the law. It's hard to remember one tragedy without remembering a dozen others.  

In Episode 2, we visited Mount Rushmore: a monument to four American presidents carved into the sacred Black Hills that, according to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, belong to the Lakota. 

MILO
If there was any honesty in this world or this American government, we would have Western half of the state of South Dakota in the name of the great Sioux nation.

 VO
That’s Milo Yellow Hair, the former Vice President of the Oglala Sioux tribe.

MILO
The Oglala Lakota people, you know, we're famous for it, our defending the treaty rights and uh, we have not, not that that's nothing new. You know, that's something that's been going on since the day after the treaty was signed back in 1868, you know, and that was that, you know, what's most important about the 1868 treaty of the Fort Laramie is this: It was proclaimed as law by President Andrew Johnson. Proclaimed as a law of the land by a President of the United States after passage in the Senate. Well how much more law can you get than that?

VO
But almost immediately after Johnson signed the treaty, gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Prospectors, exploiting confusion about the agreement, began occupying claims on protected Lakota land around the year 1876. And the Federal Government didn't stop them.

MILO
Today, uh, well in the Black Hills they celebrate something called the days of 76. Well, you know, that's the first criminal act really. 

MILO
And, uh, from that day on they've been stealing land, uh, piece by piece by piece, using federal laws, state law, all of these things like that. But you know, you can understand in that time all these political forces getting together and trying to disenfranchise the Indian once more from his lands on this reservation. And this reservation might be small. You know, they didn't like it and they didn't want it so they give it to us, called, they called it Badlands, give the Badlands to the bad Indians.

VO
But the Badlands ended up being more valuable than the Federal Government originally thought. Here's Edgar again.

EDGAR
See where those cars are at there. You can just stop momentarily and get a good look.

VO
We’re driving on South Dakota Highway 40 in a light rain when Badlands National Park suddenly comes into view. Edgar points out a scenic vista just off the road.

EDGAR
Pull over. No cars will hit you. Nothing like that. That land contains huge deposits of oil and gas. This land has hot water we can use that hot water to make electricity. but in our society we're not developers you know.

EDGAR
We leave everything to the land just as is and now we need to stay with the pace now. we need to set up our own oil company. we need to make our own oil and serve it to our tribal members as our own revolving income.

RORY
So how much of this land do the Lakotas still own? 

EDGAR
Today the minority white people who are ranchers, they represent 7.6 percent of the population yet they own over fifty one percent of the land. own it. they bought it over time you know. 

MILO
Basically what it came down to... it's the same thing in Oklahoma, you know, 

VO
Milo Yellow Hair again...

MILO
they said, well, you know, let those Indians drink that black water, you know, that black water turned out to be oil.

MILO
So that set off a whole issue down there about, you know, state rights and Indian rights and the Indians lost out... And um, Mr. Leonard Peltier yeah, he got caught in the middle of all of that. He came here as a man, who thought that he could make a difference in the movement of our people to establish things that, to create a better humanity based on sharing and, you know, caring for each other and you know, taking care of each other. He came to do all of that those, those kinds of things...We're in a, we're in a tough situation here and you know, we can't even go outside anymore cause people are outside trying to kill us and beat us.

MILO
Around here, you know, Pine Ridge and everybody believes that, you know, Leonard really didn't have anything to do with it. It was a, uh, a, uh, a fiction that was created, uh, in order to, uh, uh, separate to the Lakota from their resources.

BREAK

To help Leonard, you can purchase his artwork at whoisleonardpeltier.info. All proceeds go to fund his legal defense. So check out his stuff. He’s incredibly talented. You can also help Leonard on social media by tweeting messages of support for Leonard’s clemency to @POTUS and @realdonaldtrump -- as well as to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. We know the President loves Twitter, so tweet, tweet, tweet. Let’s keep Leonard in his timeline and mentions!

VO
In June, 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Federal government had illegally plundered Black Hills land granted by the 1868 treaty. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun declared, quote, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” And with 103 years of interest, Blackmun calculated that the Lakota were owed $120 million.  

But the Lakota refused the payment, demanding instead that the United States return the territory it stole.

40 years later, not a dollar of the settlement has been paid. And not an acre has been returned.

WARD CHURCHILL
The US is talking about monetary compensation. And the Lakota position is that the Black Hills are not for sale. They never were. And they still aren't.

VO
This is the scholar and author, Ward Churchill.

WARD CHURCHILL
As the court puts it in the case you're talking about, wrongly took it, was a wrongful taking of property, right? Now, Indian indigenous, in general, So far as I know, there are different ways of looking at this, according to the culture specific culture, you might want to talk about, the sort of common denominators, that don't understand, don't relate to land as property in the sense John Locke intended. Doesn't mean, you know, Locke is the be all end all in defining property or some, how one relates to others and those others can be land, the environment on that land, the minerals in the land, the water that comes with land, other people, um, other relatives of the four legged winged variety, so on, 

WARD CHURCHILL
In any case by the U S means of estimating wealth, this is extraordinarily valuable territory… 

WARD CHURCHILL
Now understand that it's been seriously estimated that the Back Hills itself, or Paha Sapa as it's referred to. The Black Hills national forest, now. It's the 100 most mineral rich square miles on the planet.

EDGAR
Oh bullshit this makes us sick, makes you really sick…

VO
Here’s Edgar Bear Runner again.

EDGAR
Dick Wilson signed this land away a lot of people don't know that. Our own tribal chairman kept us in the dark. We had no idea that our tribal president gave a hundred and thirty-three thousand acres of tribal lands rich in minerals, oil, gas, uranium and other precious metals we never knew that the government took over this land, took it away from us, while doing so a lot of people died through violence.

VO
The pilfering of Lakota land started almost as soon as the Fort Laramie Treaty was signed in 1868. But the thievery accelerated under the chairmanship of Pine Ridge President Dick Wilson in the early 1970s.

In Episode 1 we touched on Dick Wilson and his private militia: the GOON squad. It’s time to dig deeper.

WARD CHURCHILL
Dick Wilson was a mixed blood Oglala. 

VO
Ward Churchill again.

WARD CHURCHILL
Um, he was an enrolled Oglala that was, uh, worked as a plumbing contractor, mostly and a bootlegger. Left the reservation, went to Arizona, and had some, uh, charges that were never pursued. They brought him back, um, to pine Ridge to stand for chairman and interesting, uh, progression. 

VO
Back in 1992, Churchill wrote an article for the Yale Journal of Law and Liberation entitled “Death Squads in the United States: Confessions of a Government Terrorist.” 

It’s worth noting that Churchill is a controversial guy. He was fired from the University of Colorado for a paper he wrote, in the wake of 9/11. And there are Native American activists who dispute his indigenous ancestry. But he is, without a doubt, one of the leading experts on FBI activities on Pine Ridge in the 1970s.  

WARD CHURCHILL
You leave basically as a fugitive and come back as a candidate for tribal chair, um, backed by a couple of, uh, real estate developers in Rapid City, non-Indians. Quid pro quo being, I would suppose that, uh, they'd have an arm lock on contracts on the reservation coming through the BIA if he were ensconced and simply, you know, he, uh, bought votes. It doesn't take a whole lot of them on Pine Ridge, but he bought a sufficient number of votes and had federal backing and all that got himself

WARD CHURCHILL
Uh, elected, and then strange things began to happen. And he hired his brother and he hired his wife and he hired his nephew and he hired his son and he hired his friends. I don't know if you've ever been on Pine Ridge or major reservation, but it's like, you're driving down the road, You arrive at the reservation boundaries. There may or may not be a sign, but you know, you're there because the bottom goes out of the road. And so you had these federal highway funds which were for road repair, uh, which were sorely needed, but you know, decades have gone by, without anybody allocating money into that. Wilson immediately took it and, uh, created what he called tribal Rangers group, uh, paid for out of those funds. The accounting was a little shaky, you could say. And the tribal Rangers essentially were to enforce the will of Dick Wilson on the reservation.

VO
As Churchill writes in his “Death Squads article,” this "Tribal Ranger Group," known as the GOONs, and paid for with Federal Highway money, were, quote, "responsible for the bulk of the AIM fatalities on Pine Ridge."

If you’ll remember from episode 1, more than 60 AIM members and sympathizers were murdered on Pine Ridge between the years of 1973 & 1975.

"In those cases," Churchill continues, quote, "where witnesses identified the murderers, the culprits invariably turned out to be known members of the reservation GOON squad. Yet, in most instances, no formal FBI investigation resulted."

WARD CHURCHILL
You know, you've got the dropping of warrants and federal support and looking the other way while he's misappropriating funds and nepotism and all sorts of things going on just flagrantly, 

WARD CHURCHILL
You know, what's up with the feds, what's their interest in this? Turns out it has to do with the Northwestern one eighth of the reservation, it's called the gunnery range. 

VO
The Federal Government appealed to the Lakota to allow the military to use a section of the reservation for heavy artillery training during WWII. 

WARD CHURCHILL
interesting that the Indian should be so patriotic as to move out of their homes and off their land And, uh, all of that, given that history of relations between the two, but that's that's, uh, how it was packaged, and the deal was that at the end of the war, you know, supposed to go back tribal control, people could, uh, graze cattle out again, people could, uh, move back out there and live on it again. So forth, the only thing is, I suppose the unwritten law of US relations with Indians is once the land goes away, you don't get it back. So we're talking circa 1970. Last I've heard World War II in Germany ended in April of 1945. So, you know, feds are slow.

VO
Between 1945 and 1970, the National Uranium Resource Institute, part of the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons program, was surveying areas throughout the country for deposits of radioactive metals.  

WARD CHURCHILL
They were doing satellite photographer, photography, a utilizing a special form that recorded a, I believe it was gamma Ray emissions. They were trying to map out a location of every significant uranium deposit. And on field investigation, they discovered that there was indeed uranium there. And it was intermixed with molybdenum, which is another strategically useful. Well, you could even say important a, mineral. And so the plan was, the Feds were simply going to run through a transfer. They were going to, um, assert a formal title to it, but they needed an Indian sign off. Well, Dick Wilson's the guy.  

VO
But even before members of the Lakota knew Dick Wilson was selling off their land, tensions between the, quote, “Progressives,” like Wilson, and the traditionals, like Edgar Bear Runner, were already boiling on Pine Ridge. The conflict had a lot to do with money, land, and power.

But it was also about culture.  Here's Edgar again. 

EDGAR
There was a period of time when full bloods bear runner changed his name to Smith, that little hawk changed his name to Johnson...

EDGAR
They made fun of the Sundance, they made fun of the powwow, they made fun of you singing the traditional songs. it was so bad it was like living in a white community... they were almost colonized, the tribal members, so that all changed, ended when traditional members, treaty members called upon AIM to come to the Pine Ridge Reservation to provide protection to provide security.

EDGAR
But the decolonization process began on the Pine Ridge Reservation when the American Indian movement was invited. Before the American Indian movement was invited to come to the Pine Ridge reservation it was almost a sin to be a full blood. it was almost a sin to be a dark-skinned Indian.

VO
When AIM moved to Pine Ridge at the request of the traditionals, Ward Churchill writes in “Death Squads,” quote, "the GOONs shifted from intimidation tactics to outright death squad activities, thus pursuing not only their original objective, but the broader federal goal of eliminating AIM as a viable political force as well."

WARD CHURCHILL
This is part way through Wilson's first term...

VO
Ward Churchill again.

WARD CHURCHILL
The Tribal Rangers who were by this point being called GOONS in fact, um, had adopted that as their own name. And they said it was an acronym standing for Guardians of the Oglala Nation. Okay. So you're not disparaging the goons by calling them goons since that's what they called themselves. Yeah. They were, um, visiting violence in a fairly systematic, uh, manner on people who were opposed to Wilson's nepotism, opposed to the way travel funds are being expended, uh, opposed to the goons who are shoving people around because they were empowered to do so. Um, and as they became oppositions, you know, vocal or whatever, then they were targeted. 

VO
Kevin McKiernan, a correspondent for NPR who reported from the Pine Ridge Reservation, interviewed Dick Wilson about AIM.

KEVIN MCKIERNAN
Perhaps last summer the tribal council here under your administration banned the activities of AIM on the reservation.

VO
This is Kevin McKiernan.

KEVIN MCKIERNAN
If you are reelected, will the ban be reinstituted?

VO
And this is Dick Wilson.

DICK WILSON
If I remember right, it's still in effect. And if I’m reelected, you better know it’s going to be re-instituted, if it’s not already. Because I won’t tolerate ‘em. And I won’t call in the Marshalls this time either. We’ll handle them ourselves. We have one of the finest BIA police forces in the country.

VO
Hear the confidence in his voice. Like the dictator of a banana republic, Wilson had no fears. And why would he? He was backed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the FBI and his own private militia, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation.

DICK WILSON
And when we put them together, they'll be able to take care whatever needs to be taken care of.

KEVIN MCKIERNAN
But if you are reelected, you're saying that AIM will be outlawed?

DICK WILSON
As far as I'm concerned, yes, they're not even recognized by this tribe as a legally constituted group. All they are is rabble-rousers. We don't have time for them. There's a lot of constructive things that we as a counsel would like to be doing other than having to defend ourselves constantly from outside threats.

KEVIN MCKIERNAN
Indian religion and a return to traditional spiritual way of life, is that an issue in the coming election here? 

DICK WILSON
Yeah I think it's going to be because the churches. The organized churches are supporting AIM.

KEVIN MCKIERNAN
Means and others have said they want to turn away form Christianity, that they want to turn back to the old religion of their forefathers, of the medicine men, of the sweat lodges, of the Indian spiritual ceremonies and so forth.

DICK WILSON
Well, that's their prerogative. They ought to go back to their city jungles and do it.

MILO
You know, it's called, we call it a reign of terror at that time, 

VO
This is Milo Yellow Hair again, recalling what life was like on Pine Ridge in the 1970s.

MILO
But that was shortly after, you know, the Alcatraz takeover, then 1973 and the wounded knee takeover, you know, the trail of broken treaties into Washington, DC all of these things were set up that whole climate 

MILO
And so, uh, and all of them were armed and dangerous and they all had little, uh, little armies, you know, they all had their little networks. And, uh, this is, this is where we had a select amount of people and men on this reservation. Men from other parts of this country came together, defended those people who were- the victims in this, uh, of this, uh, madness at that time. 

VO
Milo uses the phrase “Reign of Terror” to describe the systematic, extrajudicial violence perpetrated by the GOONs against AIM and the traditionals. And he isn’t exaggerating. 

Here’s an example of the kind of frontier justice being meted out on Pine Ridge—just three months before the shootout on the Jumping Bull ranch that would send Leonard Peltier to prison. 

Edith Eagle Hawk — a defense alibi witness for Jerry Bear Shield, an A.I.M. member who stood falsely accused of killing a GOON — was driving between Scenic, South Dakota and Rapid City, when another driver rammed her car off the road.

Eagle Hawk, her four-month-old daughter, and her three-year-old grandson were all killed. The driver of the car that caused the accident — Albert Coomes, a white rancher who’d been deputized as a GOON by Dick Wilson — died, too.

But Eagle Hawk’s nephew, Eugene, survived the wreck despite major injuries. And he was able to identify a second man—Mark Clifford, another well-known GOON—who’d escaped before police arrived at the scene. Eugene gave a statement to investigators. But neither the F.B.I. nor the Bureau of Indian Affairs reports about the accident mention Clifford.

The crash was eventually ruled an accident. And no charges were ever brought.

If you supported the American Indian Movement on Pine Ridge, and if you did something the GOONs didn’t like — or had information the GOONs didn’t want you to have— they knew they could target you with impunity. 

They might ambush you with a shotgun while you were sitting in your car like they didPedro Bissonette. They might poison you with carbon-tetrachloride like they did Julia Pretty Hips. They might stab you like they did Hilda Good Buffalo. They might beat you and run you over like they did JanSiita Eagle Deer. They might beat you, shoot you, and run you over like they did Hobart Horse. Or they might run your car off the road and kill you, your daughter, and your grandson like they did Edith Eagle Hawk.

Because they knew no one would investigate. Of the 64 murders attributed to the Goons between 1973 and 1975, fewer than 10 ever went to trial. Fewer than 5 resulted in any kind of conviction. 

CHASE IRON EYES
If I was born as a white American, I’m bred, and steeped, in a mythology where I’m the victor, I’m the conqueror, I’m the colonizer.

VO
This is Chase Iron Eyes, the Lakota activist, writer, and attorney whom we heard from in episode 2.

CHASE IRON EYES
My ancestors are brave and hearty and they’re settlers, you know what I mean? They tamed the “Wild West” and so forth. Um, there’s a lot of that infused into our justice system. And so, uh, the more that we’re able to kind of share a truth about what happened to Leonard in those circumstances that surround that time, because it’s still relevant today. It's not popular though, because indigenous sovereignty isn't popular right now. The only time it's popular is when we're having to put up resistance like we did at Standing Rock, you know, but Leonard was defending indigenous sovereignty and that's, that's a tie that's gotta, that's gotta be made to make him relevant today to this generation. He's also doing the time of those who have an interest in defending our constitutional freedoms as well. You know, we, in our country, we shouldn't have a political prisoner. We shouldn't have an Edward Snowden. Edward Snowden should be a hero in this country, so should Chelsea Manning. And it's the opposite. The war criminals should be locked up and they're out there being celebrated, running free, worry free.

VO
I know we’ve said this two times already, but in the next episode of Leonard: Political Prisoner, Edgar Bear Runner actually takes us to the Jumping Bull compound. 

Full disclosure: we’re a skeleton crew. Everyone is working pro bono right now. And we’re essentially writing these episodes in real time. 

The more we work on telling this story, the more we realize we still need to tell. No joke, a month ago we thought we were just making one six-episode season. But this story is so big, if y’all are interested in hearing it, we could be sharing it for the next few years.

But hopefully, long before we finish telling the story of the Pine Ridge shootout, Leonard will finally be free.

This podcast is produced, written, and edited by Rory-Owen Delaney, James Kaelan and Andrew Fuller. And it was recorded on Tongva land in what is now considered Los Angeles.

Thanks to Maya Meinert, Emily Deutsch, and Blessing Yen for helping support us while we do what, we hope, is important work.

Thanks to Bobby Halvorson for the original music we’re using throughout the series.

And thanks to Mike CaZentini at the Network Studios for his engineering assistance, and to Peter Lauridsen and Sycamore Sound for their audio mixing. 

Thanks to Kevin McKiernan for giving us access to the audio from his reporting on Pine Ridge, and for helping fact-check this episode.

Thanks to Paulette D'auteuil at the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

Thanks to Kathy Peltier and Anne Begay and Rigo 23 for welcoming us into their family.

Thanks to Edgar Bear Runner for guiding us through his land and his history.

And thanks, most of all, to Leonard Peltier. 

And two last shout outs this week. Thanks to U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg for ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated environmental law when it granted a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is a huge win for everyone who gathered to protest DAPL at Standing Rock, and to the tribes whose land the pipeline violates.

And a big, non-ironic thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States, who last week ruled that an area covering roughly half of the state of Oklahoma, including most of the city of Tulsa, belongs to the Muscogee Creek Nation. What this actually means for Indian sovereignty is hard to say. But it’s a huge legal victory.  

To get involved and help Leonard, call the White House at 202-456-1111 and request immediate clemency from President Trump. For more information, go to whoisleonardpeltier.info or find us on social media. @leonard_pod on Twitter and Instagram, or facebook.com/leonardpodcast.

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