STATEMENT FROM LEONARD PELTIER TO HASKELL INDIAN NATIONS UNIVERSITY STUDENT BODY
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am always happy to see Native youth take the initiative to reach out to their peers and inspire them to be socially conscious and active. Each and every one of you should understand and embrace your ability to make a difference for our people. You have already begun, just by taking the important step of getting your college education. I want to encourage you to stay in school and graduate so that you can use the skills you gain for bettering your communities and your own lives. I also want to encourage you to learn about the struggles of our recent history, which have brought about some positive changes for our people.
When I was your age, having pride in your culture, in being Indian, was not popular at all. Nor was the teaching of our history in schools, available or documented. Many of the positive social programs that exist today, including those that help Native youth attain higher education, were virtually non-existent. These changes were not handed to us. Of course, we still have a very long way to go before justice for First Nations is truly achieved. The fact that I have written you this statement from a prison cell is evidence of that. However, it is important that as young people, you not take for granted the progress we have made.
This progress was made by the sacrifice and struggle of our people in the late 1960's through the 1970's. The American Indian Movement and other Native groups of that era, were made up of ordinary people like your mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles; people who committed themselves to making life better for you, the future generations. If you learn about this recent history, both from the obstacles we faced, and the positive accomplishments that we achieved, you will be better prepared to work for social change.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to write to me about the realities that you are facing today. Your perceptions and ideas are important to the future of our people. Also, communicating with those on the outside is an important way for me to stay in touch with the current state of affairs in Indian Country, and see if there are ways that I can help.
In closing, I want to tell you how proud I am of each of you. Whether you choose to study business, social work, teaching, ecology, art, or history, I believe you will be a gift to our people.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
PO Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048
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