I received this letter from Choctaw Nations' Sun Dance Chief BEN CARNES SUNDANCER
Human rights activist and prisoner’s rights advocate. All oppressed people, victims of white supremacy can learn from the lessons outlined here. Ben has just completed a week of a fast protest across from the White House on behalf of Leonard Pelitier, the native warrior political prisoner. I have Ben's permission to share the letter. He was a guest on OUR COMMON GROUND at ustalknetwork.com on July 24...
Ben Carnes on OUR COMMON GROUND Listen on demand
"Open Letter to my Brother, Wanbli and to everyone:
Thanks so much for all that you have done. I know that we have discussed this, and I support you in your decision brother. You came in and did one hell of a remarkable job, there is no one who has a thing to say about the effort and time you gave.
I also completely understand about having the freedom to speak without repercussion to the committee or Leonard. I was in that same position after our 1999 campaign, and I wrote Leonard a letter designed to get me fired, and proceeded to prepare for an action that would have guaranteed to create worldwide publicity as never seen before. However, I was later advised that there was something working with the White House, so I stood down and called off my action.
When Clinton left the White House without signing clemency, and the details were revealed to me later, I was severely disappointed that I had not followed through. The thought about the government keeping its promises to Native people - is that it never has and why should Clinton be any different. Or Obama for that matter.
As we have discussed Wanbli, I feel the need to come from a broader approach to help not only Leonard, but Native people and others as well. It is time that we take destiny in our own hands, in a dignified manner, and let this occupying government know that we are done with being patronized, being mislead/lied to, and being used for photo ops!
Years ago, Bill Means said that in order to free the land; we must first free our minds! There is so much truth in this. We cannot go on expecting the government to do anything righteous for us, without us setting the course of action. The first step to freeing the minds is that everyone must remember that as Indigenous peoples of this hemisphere, WE HAVE NO BORDERS! The Indigenous peoples to the north and South of us are our relatives; we all speak a colonial language whether it is English, Spanish or French! Our strength is in our numbers, and those numbers can capture the attention of the world if we can come together and move forward on a hemispheric strike.
Can we organize such a strike to shut this hemisphere down? Can we shut down major transportation hubs, public utilities and can we count upon our non-Native allies to join us in this strike. It is a major sacrifice to us all if no one works, and we spend a week occupying major transportation hubs so commerce is disrupted!
It has been said that we will never get their attention until we hit them in their pocketbook. Well, it is time to see if we can amass the numbers to make this happen. It will take organization and massive coordination in different languages.
I can imagine what the governments response will be, a police/military one. Will they designate me as a terrorist because I am speaking about this and encouraging the thought so that we can achieve justice? Justice for Peltier, the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) whose kingdom has been suppressed by the US, and the failure of the US to honor its treaties, etc.?
This government has never dealt honorably with us, and I doubt they will now. If they fear we will succeed in our efforts, they will call the tribal councils for a summit meeting to "resolve" the claims. The tribal council systems are an entity set up by the government. It is not a representation of the traditional governments that still exists.
I would like to see that the traditional leaders, headmen, clan mothers and spiritual leaders consulted and have input. These tribal council systems need to dissolve and we began exercising our sovereignty as an Independent nation and move toward reclaiming our territories.
When the term, "The Great White Father in Washington" first arose, it was a term of respect from one Chief to another. In modern times, it has become a derisive term meaning a thief and liar. Before I went to DC to do my personal fast and prayer, I wrote the comment on FB that I was going to Washington to seethe Great Black father and I wasn't taking any crumbs. Someone felt it was in ill form, I looked at it and saw that for the first time in over two hundred years this term has changed, and will the actions of "the Great Black father" be any different? It was a question. I think we now have our answer. We cannot wait until the end of his term, like Clinton asked us, because Leonard shouldn’t have to wait that long!
In this year, we supposedly have been told through a contact that Obama was going to do something, but every time the time frame promised came and went, we were given another excuse why something didn't happen. So did Obama lie to stall us, or was someone yanking our chain? It doesn’t matter now, something has been set into motion.
Everyday Leonard sits in prison for an unjust conviction is a day he will never get to spend with his family. It is another day that we cannot get the support for a major congressional investigation to look at the FBI's Counterintelligence program that attacked so many organizations, and it was also the FBI who set up Coler and Williams on that day in Oglala. Their families need to hear the truth! Not the lies and propaganda by the ilk of Woods, Sennetts and the Trimbachs, including other members of the FBI.
It was two young boys with squirrel rifles that unintentionally foiled their raid on the AIM camp at Oglala, by cutting off their reinforcements. It was never a pursuit for Jimmy Eagle and a pair of cowboy boots. Not when they never actively investigated the murders of the traditional's or the AIM members. There is no way they can convince me that a pair of used cowboy boots was more important than the lives of the women and children who were murdered.
With the series of federal/state trials in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, there will be mudslinging against Peltier, his attorney Ellison, and other members of AIM. Some former members of AIM will join the government in pointing fingers. There is something wrong when an individual who stood against a common enemy, joins them and then helps to prosecute and convict them.
What will be lacking is the name of former Special Agent David Price who told Anna Mae that if she would be dead within a year if she didn't cooperate in implicating Peltier and others in the deaths of the agents. When they found Anna Mae's body, people saw Agent Price at the scene. When they asked if they could identify the body, they were told the body was too badly decomposed to be recognizable. So "Jane Doe’s" hands were cut off from her body (mutilation) to be sent to DC for fingerprinting.
It wasn't until Ellison moved for an independent pathology because they had reason to suspect the Jane Doe was Anna Mae, that they discovered the body was still recognizable as Anna Mae. David Price knew who the Jane Doe was, but they attempted a cover-up.
The feds have always attacked the women. I've heard from a few female supporters this year that believed they have been assaulted because of their support for Peltier. David Hill has been under constant surveillance and followed all over the country, and as everyone knows, I had been facing trial, but since they never had a case, it was dismissed in July.
My prayer in DC has been one of what is it going to take to free Peltier? The answers is that it is going to require a broader approach on a wholly different level.
I was reminded about the time I went to Columbia and met with the Indigenous peoples there. They told me that they needed our support because all the policies they have affected them negatively has came from Washington, DC.
So when we say we are the caretakers of the land and we call everyone our relatives, but do nothing on a significant level to help them, what does that say about us? Are we just talking?
There is another generation behind us who say they want to revive AIM. I say let it die. It is a new energy and direction that needs to set course. We need this without the baggage and differences that exists.
The government in the 1924 American Indian Citizenship Act has confiscated our identity as Native People - First Nations People, then a few years later the Ft. Sill Apaches were granted a Presidential Pardon since it was not inherent in the 1924 Act.
Technically, we remain Prisoners Of War and are born into captivity. I did not ask to be an American whose history has been one of genocide and theft of our lands and continued oppression of the people. I have no representatives who speak for me or the people in DC. It is a fallacy that we have endured and attempted to work with, but now it must end.
What is the plan you ask? First, each First Nation people who hears and reads this must decide if this what they need to do and begin discussion with their traditional leaders, only they have the right to speak and deliberate for their selves. If they are in general agreement, then it is time to meet in a great council, I would be willing to host on my land here.
We would need to extend the invitation to all Indigenous peoples from this hemisphere to attend because they have a voice also. When we can reach a consensus, then we set up on the Mall in DC with a notice sent to the President and Congress that we are coming for a meeting. Since Tipi's are transportable, we can set up a major encampment on the mall and establish an area for this government to meet with us. The historic presence of thousands of Tipi's on the Mall will have the attention of the world to see if this government is ready to deal honorably with us. One of the first points to be presented to see if the government is prepared to acknowledge our rightful place in this hemisphere is the immediate release of Leonard Peltier as a symbol of good faith. Leonard must not be a sacrificial lamb, not when millions of us have put so much into this. And that will be just the beginning to rectify years of dishonor by the U.S. government.
The rent has come due and the course of history must change. I know that when Obama made his campaign promises, he never expected this to arise. I know that he has other things on his minds, but we have been waiting for fairness and respect for 233 years!
We should also remind him that the White House sits upon the traditional lands of the Piscataway Indian Nation and that he never even considered asking traditional Chief William "Redwing" Tayac to welcome him. I sent word through a few of Obama’s campaign people – again, no sign of respect.
If they fail to meet or attempt to patronize us, then we must exercise our free will to create a just and fair society. We have to make change, we cannot continue to ask the government to do so for us. They never have and never will, so it is time they put aside world affairs and listen to us and act accordingly. The First Nations should also have a say and vote on how this country deals with others, and begin to restore the freedoms we have surrendered through our overall silence over the past 30 - 40 years.
There is much to do, and I call upon many others who we have known that have stood for Leonard to take his place and for others to come and take my place. I will not resign until I have someone capable to help Leonard and Kari in the office. The work I have set out will occupy quite a bit of my time, and it will be difficult for me to do both.
Just the work I've done for Leonard has set me way behind in land payments, my willing sacrifice for my brother has forced me to send my family to my in-laws for their safety and well-being. It has caused friends to become frighten of what the government "might" do to me to move away from associating with me so that they will believe they will be out of harms way "IF" it happens. That is there choice and their own free will. I do not demand anyone to sacrifice for Leonard or to help support me while I do this work. It has to come from people's own free will that believe in what I do.
I am not a non-profit so I cannot offer anyone a tax-deductions, nor do I want to be a NPO. Yet, I do appreciate the support that feeds me, keeps fuel in my vehicle, and whatever comes to help me keep the land I have. Others are stepping forward to do what they can to help me create a home or shelter for the coming winter. I currently live in an RV that needs some repairs to be fully functional, but it isn't going to be sufficient to keep me warm in the winter.
I've had a few critics who have attempted to discredit me and criticize me for who I am, even to the extent to say I wasn’t Indian! I expect they will begin again from this message. If they have a complaint, then they better look at what they have done for Leonard or other Indian people than sit safely behind their computer screens and spread misinformation. Who are they really, and what have they done, except point fingers? What real sacrifices have they made? Are they helping to get the word out about what is going on at Akwesasne, the missing and murdered women in Klanada, or showing support to other Native prisoners? I don’t see it.
I carry a belief that the Creator will care for my family and myself, including the visions I have for the land I live on, and if I need to ask for help, and they want to criticize, then everyone will know them for what they are.
The Creator moves people to send me a few dollars here and there, and at times it has been just enough to get by. For what needs to be done, I will begin to need more help and support from many, I would also need some assistance from attorneys and bookkeepers if they will offer their services. I’ll need help with answering correspondences, logistics, and translations, along with much more.
I need to get this land paid off so it can be placed safely into a trust and to find good hearted people who may want to live here and help with organizing this hemispheric effort to change history. People who can be trusted and can work together. This land needs to be a gathering place for what needs to be done and I’ll need help.
There is a sense of urgency here because I would hate to think about what would happen if Leonard were to die in prison. I saw the rage and frustration when his parole denial was made public; I was greatly concerned for many of you when I saw what you wrote. Be careful; don't give them the tools they need to take you away from us.
I've believed the mass raids by ICE a few years ago was an exercise in coordination to see how efficiently they can move to arrest people. I am sure all of our names is on a list, and they can scoop up a lot of us overnight so that by sun rise there may not be enough of us left to mount a significant protest.
We all have families that need us, and some of us have the safety of friends and families. You know my family is away safe, and I live alone here in the mountains, but I had to say what I have because I haven't seen or heard anyone else say it. And someone needed to.
I believe our time is now and we need to spread the word to as many people as possible, because there is no way in hell I can do this by myself!
I am speaking for myself, not as a representative of the LPDOC or any organization or other First Nations, but this is from my heart and from my years of experiences that indicate it has come to this. We cannot free Peltier as a singular issue, we need to bring it all together. If we can grow our numbers quickly, it can assure our safety for the time being. The LPDOC is a non-profit, and our association in an official capacity can be a hindrance through what Wanbli has to do, and what I need to do. We are not quitting on Leonard, we are just going to step it up by having the freedom to speak truthfully.
In the Spirit of Total Resistance,
How long do we weep, how deep is our sadness before we act with deliberation?
“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”
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