Message to Youth from Leonard Peltier

March 2006

Greetings My Relatives:

I say relatives for we are all related in some way.  Each year I make statements commemorating the Oglala incident or the anniversary of my imprisonment.  Sometimes sitting here in my cell, looking through my glasses, they no longer take the blur away like they once did.  I think about the lifetimes Iíve spent behind these walls.  Sometimes for a prisoner, itís like youíve died to your friends and family.  The only difference is that you can talk to them on occasion and sometimes see them.  I have spent my life trying to make a difference in the world, for the better.  Sometimes someone notices in some way and says thank you for something I was involved with.  However my greatest joy comes from someone saying that something I said or was involved with inspired them to be better than they were or seek for themselves to make the world a better place.  I remember in my youth that I had a hard time expressing deep feelings but after years of losing friends and relatives who were very close to me, I have come to cherish the opportunity to speak to you even though it be by letter or some other way.

 This is the second statement Iíve written today.  My first was quite political in nature but after thinking about it I realized most of you get to read the same papers, watch the same news channels that I do.  When youíre 30 you can hardly imagine dying.  When youíre 61 you know itís entirely possible and could come anytime.  Having said that I want to say a few things from my heart to your heart. 

Seek the creator in all the things you do.  Cherish your time with one another.  Develop your personal self discipline, which is the key to all success.  Develop a sense of happiness within you that none can take away.  Develop who you are and remain true to your higher self and your integrity will be an inspiration to others.  Show your strengths when necessary, even if it is in being gentle or humble.  Speak of others in private the same way you would in their presence.  Do your best to find the good in all people and stand and speak up against wrong doing.  Respect the earth where you stand.  Many parts of Mother Earth are also held captive behind concrete and steel.  Do your best to recognize inspiration from the Creator and avoid listening to your own, especially when you are tempted in contradiction of your higher values.  Never be too proud to say you were wrong or too fearful to stand up for what you know is right.  Donít expect to not get hurt by life, just because youíve done your best to do whatís right.  Especially Ė donít lose your sense of humor, even when the laughter is at your own expense. 

Life is a learning place.  Existence is forever.  Challenges are only challenges because life has given you an opportunity to grow in an area of your fear or weakness.  Perhaps Iíve talked too much, eh?  I want to thank all of you for remembering me.  Most of all I want to thank all of you who have chosen to make a difference for the betterment of this world. 

 I know we donít all have the same capabilities or resources and I know from experience and history that there will always be those who would commit injustice against others.  I know this is the way of things in the past and it will continue in the future.  But I also know that if has touched our hearts to do so, we must each, in our own way, in our own time, be part of the cure against the sicknesses of greed, wealth mongering and nature destruction that faces all mankind.  We canít individually stop it or even collectively, however, we can sure slow it up and, pray to the Creator that his intervention will prevail. 

Seriously, know that I love you and that you will be in my prayers.  Thirty years ago on February 6th, or March 6th, I would hardly have been able to express these feelings.  I thank you for your patience, your time, your support, and your loyalty and for allowing me to share this existence with you.  As someone once said, we are all climbing the same mountain, just from different sides. 

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Mitakuye oyasin!
Leonard Peltier


Background artwork:

"She Who Opens the Gates"
Music selected and performed by Thomas B. Maracle, Mohawk, Iroquois Confederacy

Messages to Youth from Leonard Peltier Native Village Home Page