Press Release

Leonard Peltier Denied Parole: NDN Collective Responds

Rapid City, South Dakota – Today, NDN Collective and millions of people across Indian Country are devastated to learn that Leonard Peltier, an activist and member of the American Indian Movement, has been denied parole by the United States Parole Commission. The Commission issued the decision today after a parole hearing on June 10 at the United States Penitentiary Coleman I in Florida, where Mr. Peltier is currently incarcerated.

“Today is a sad day for Indigenous Peoples and justice everywhere. The U.S. Parole Commission’s denial of parole for Leonard Peltier, America’s longest serving Indigenous political prisoner, is a travesty,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective. “They denied parole to a survivor of genocidal Indian boarding schools as he struggles to survive this unjust incarceration, they insist on holding him for a crime for which they have no physical evidence against him. Clearly, the Parole Commission – which is supposed to be an independent body – was influenced by the FBI. The FBI continues to abuse its power, promote false narratives, and engage in counterintelligence activities. The FBI has no regard for the Constitution or the laws they have sworn an oath to protect.”

Relatives and supporters rally in front of the Federal Building in Rapid City, SD to show support for Leonard’s freedom on June 27. Photo by Angel White Eyes, Photo Editor for NDN Collective.

“This decision is consistent with how the United States government has treated the Indigenous Peoples of these lands. They have broken every promise they have ever made to our Nations, and have ignored their Constitution in order to erode the civil and human rights of Native people. But while we are heartbroken by the parole commission’s decision, our work to ensure that Leonard will receive justice and freedom will continue with renewed dedication,” Tilsen said.

Leonard Peltier, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, is in his 49th year of imprisonment. He stands as a symbol of the ongoing racism and oppression against Native Americans in the United States criminal justice system, issues that Leonard fought against in the 1970’s and throughout his incarceration. 

NDN Collective will continue to demand freedom for Leonard Peltier as his attorneys file an appeal of this decision. The organization will also continue its advocacy for a grant of clemency from President Joe Biden. 

Graphic Art by NDN Collective

“We will continue to stand with Leonard Peltier and move our support into an all-out campaign for Executive Clemency,” Tilsen said. “President Biden has promised to be a friend and ally of Indigenous Peoples. Now, will Biden release the oldest living Indigenous political prisoner in American history, or will he simply allow Peltier to die in prison? The decision is now Biden’s alone – and we will not let him forget that he has the power to do what’s right and release Peltier.”

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 NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

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