[Ppnews] Leonard Peltier Holiday Gift Drive - Daniel McGowan

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 5 11:03:14 EST 2007

<http://supportdaniel.org/blog/?p=19>Holiday Gift Drive Part II

by Daniel on November 6th, 2007

In a previous blog entry, I mentioned that my 
support group, Family and Friends of Daniel 
McGowan, would be participating in the annual 
<http://www.leonardpeltier.net/>Leonard Peltier 
Gift Drive for the children of the Pine Ridge 
reservation. I wanted to give you more 
information about it as well as explain our 
participation in this initiative. It begins with the case of Leonard Peltier.

Many others can tell this story better (including 
Leonard himself in his book, 
Writings: My Life is My Sundance, Peter 
Matthiesen’s book 
the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the film 
<http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104504/>Incident at 
Oglala). Leonard Peltier is an Anishinabe and 
Dakota/Lakota Native American political prisoner 
convicted of killing two FBI agents during an 
incident on the Oglala reservation. He has been 
imprisoned more than 30 years despite a massive 
executive clemency campaign that was expected to 
be victorious in the mid 1990s. He has written a 
book and countless articles and poems, become an 
accomplished artist and continued to be an 
outspoken advocate for indigenous rights. His 
case has attracted the attention of human rights 
groups, people form all over the world and even 
various foreign governments. Every appeal files 
by his legal team has either been defeated or 
been stalled for years due to FBI/government 
secrecy essentially refusing to hand over 
documents that would exonerate him. Their latest 
rationale for refusing to deliver thousands of 
documents is “national security.”

I first read about the Peltier case in the 
phenomenal account of U.S. genocide of Native 
Americans, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee 
Brown. At the time, I still harbored illusions 
about justice in the United States and was 
stunned by the details of Peltier’s case. I write 
letters to then President Bill Clinton believing 
my rational arguments combined with the obvious 
legal problems with this case and the 
international support would lead to clemency and 
the eventual release from prison for Leonard 
Peltier. Well, beliefs die hard and Clinton left 
office, commuting the sentence of Peltier’s 
half-brother and leaving him behind bars, my last 
shred of belief in liberal politics evaporated.

In December 2006, my legal defense crew held a 
rally in Foley Square which is in downtown 
Manhattan and close to the FBI headquarters as 
well as the jail I was held at one year prior 
when I was first arrested. As it turned out, 
Leonard Peltier’s lawyers were in court that day 
on one of his numerous appeals and his supporters 
rallied outside the hearing and later joined our 
rally. When I heard that, and my friend Tim’s 
speech that day, in which he talked about 
Peltier’s case and his continued opposition to 
injustice despite 30 years in a maximum security 
prison, my resolve was strengthened. i knew I 
would have an opportunity soon to lend some real, 
concrete solidarity to his freedom campaign and his annual toy drive.

You may wonder, why participate in a toy drive? 
Our participation in this project, which I find 
inspiring, is multifaceted. First, more than 
talking or expressing sentiment about what we 
believe or who we support, we are choosing an 
action that has a positive impact on the lives of 
children on the Pine Ridge Reservation– home of 
the Lakota Sioux Nation. People on this 
reservation suffer from intense poverty and have 
resisted the U.S. government’s conduct on their 
lands– most notably in the period of time around 
Leonard Peltier’s arrest. Generations have 
sacrificed and it is a gesture of solidarity. 
There is no need to look elsewhere to find 
children who need help or give funds to some 
large non-profit who puts more money into 
fundraising than the children themselves. The 
toys you buy on our online registry will brighten 
the holiday season for these children.

Second, we are hoping this project leads to 
increased “cross pollination” between activists 
resisting the <http://greenscare.org/>Green Scare 
and indigenous resisters. We have significant 
commonality– support of political prisoners, 
respect for the planet and a shared fight for 
social justice– as well as many differences. I 
believe this cross pollination whereas 
environmental/animal liberation/anarchist 
activists can learn about issues affecting 
indigenous communities and those communities can 
see we are serious allies who are in it for the 
long haul and can offer help in campaigns against 
the destruction of their lands. This isn’t a 
novel idea and many others have worked on forging 
these bonds, including those who have helped 
traditional people at Black Mesa resisting 
Peabody Coal (the Dineh), eco-activist in British 
Columbia working with First Nations and 
mitigating the effects of pushy, top-down 
environmental NGOs, as well as my co-defendant 
Bill Rogers who worked on the successful campaign 
to stop wastewater snow production on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.

Finally, despite my own experience with the 
federal legal system and knowing they won’t ever 
budge without a fight, I still maintain hope in 
the campaign to free Leonard Peltier. I hope this 
to drive can be one small contribution to this 
effort. So this year, I am asking that you help 
make this project a success. If you already buy 
gifts for your family and/or friends, I’m asking 
that you buy one or two more. Here’s how:

*Go to our 
registry (or the registry at 
we have added a lot of gifts– some cheap and some more expensive).
*Our goal is to get toys (and clothes) for 
children of all ages, including teenagers, so 
please mix up the age-appropriateness of the gifts if you can.
*We have done our best to avoid war/militaristic 
and ecologically destructive toys like bulldozers, et cetera.
*It is important that you do this soon. The gifts 
need to be shipped so they get to Texas by 
December 10th and then to Pine Ridge on December 24th.
*If you have any questions or problems with the 
ordering on the sites, feel free to e-mail my 
crew at friendsofdanielmcg at yahoo.com

Thanks so much for your help in making this project a success.
Support Daniel ‘Gift Drive’ Page

<http://www.supportdaniel.org>Daniel McGowan is 
an environmental and social justice activist. He 
was charged in federal court on many counts of 
arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all 
relating to two incidents in Oregon in 2001. 
Until recently, Daniel was offered two choices by 
the government: cooperate by informing on other 
people, or go to trial and face life in prison. 
His only real option was to plead not guilty 
until he could reach a resolution of the case 
that permitted him to honor his principles. As a 
result of months of litigation and negotiation, 
Daniel was able to admit to his role in these two 
incidents, while not implicating or identifying 
any other people who might have been involved. He 
was sentenced to 7 years in prison on June 4, 
2007 and began serving his time on July 2, 2007.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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