Poems of a Political Prisoner: Leonard Peltier

I am the Indian voice

Listen to me!
I am the Indian voice.
Hear me crying out of the wind,
Hear me crying out of the silence.
I am the Indian voice.
Listen to me!

I speak for our ancestors.
They cry out to you from the unstill grave.
I speak for the children yet unborn.
They cry out to you from the unspoken silence.

I am the Indian voice.
Listen to me !
I am a chorus of millions.
Hear us !
Our eagle’s cry will not be stilled !

We are your own conscience calling to you.
We are you yourself
crying unheard within you.

Let my unheard voice be heard.
Let me speak in my heart and the words be heard
whispering on the wind to millions,
to all who care,
to all with ears to hear
and hearts to beat as one
with mine.

Put your ear to the earth,
and hear my heart beating there.
Put your ear to the wind
and hear me speaking there.

We are the voice of the earth,
of the future,
of the Mystery.

Hear us!

My Life Is My Sun Dance

Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence screams.
Silence is a message,
Just as doing nothing is an act.

Let who you are ring out and resonate
in every word and every deed.
Yes, become who you are.
There’s no sidestepping your own being
or your own responsibility.

What you do is who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.

You are the message.

May the Great Spirit Make Sunrise in Your Heart . . .

Hoka Hey!

We are Not Separate

We are not separate beings, you and I
We are different strands of the same being

You are me and I am you
and we are they and they are us

This is how we’re meant to be,
each of us one
each of us all

You reach out across the void of Otherness to me
and you touch your own soul!


Let us love not only our sameness
but our unsameness

In our difference is our strength

Let us be not for ourselves alone
but also for that Other

who is our deepest Self

An American activist and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Leonard Peltier is convicted and sentenced in 1977 to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment.

Two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents are killed during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Amnesty International issues a statement: “Although he has not been adopted as a prisoner of conscience, there is concern about the fairness of the proceedings leading to his conviction and it is believed that political factors may have influenced the way the case was prosecuted.”

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among many others, see Leonard Peltier as a political prisoner who should be immediately released.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed on his behalf but none have succeeded.

“I didn’t kill the agents,” Peltier says. “I didn’t order anyone to kill those agents. I am an innocent man. I am an innocent man.”

Peltier is now more than fifty years old. Home to him is his cell in the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Leonard Peltier: Prison Writings: My Life is my Sun Dance. New York, 1999.


2 responses to this post.

  1. There’s a public domain protest folk about the Leonard Peltier Case, “Free Leonard Peltier,” that was recently posted on the following protestfolk channel link that might also interest U.S. political prisoner solidarity activists:


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