Leonard Peltier B-day Rally - Indy (Slideshow)
A diverse gathering of Central Indiana's Native American community gathered downtown Monday to rally for the release of Leonard Peltier, a long-time political prisoner.
Birthday Rally Seeks Freedom for Leonard Peltier
By Lori Lovely
In celebration of Leonard Peltier's 67th birthday, a small group of about
30 Native Americans gathered in front of the Birch Bayh
Federal Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis on September 12 for a rally seeking
the activist's release from prison.
Peltier, of the Anishinaabe, Dakota and Lakota Nations, has been an
activist involved with Native American civil rights since the 1960s,
participating in the "Trail of Broken Treaties" march on Washington in November
1972 and joining the American Indian Movement (founded in 1968). Most notably,
he was involved in a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation shortly after
Wounded Knee, which led to his conviction for the murder of two FBI agents, a
crime he says he did not commit.
a political prisoner by Amnesty International, Peltier has become a symbol of resistance to repressive state policies,
according to the Mario Benedetti Foundation, which awarded him their first
international human rights prize earlier this month.
honors, awards and poor health, he remains
behind bars, serving two consecutive
life sentences, most recently at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Penn.,
where he was held in solitary confinement for minor
infractions from June 27 until Sept. 12, when he was
moved to the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. The following day,
according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Peltier was transferred to the
U.S. Penitentiary at Coleman, Fla., a high-security facility located in central
Florida nearly 2,000 miles from his Nation, the Turtle Mountain Band of
Chippewa Indians, in North Dakota. The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense
Committee continues its pleas for clemency and, barring that, for relocation to
a medium-security facility closer to his home in order to allow visits with his
On Monday, brandishing signs and
banners, the peaceful group sought to educate the Indiana public about Peltier. Drawing attention through the display of a large
dream catcher, singing traditional songs around a drum and wearing the regalia
of their various tribes, they collected signatures on a petition for clemency,
which they intend to deliver to President Obama.
In a gesture of good-natured whimsy to
conclude the rally, Kylo Prince, of the Long Plain
First Nation in Manitoba, Canada, led the group in singing happy birthday to Peltier before serving up a birthday cake decorated with