Hundreds of supporters of Leonard Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) rallied outside the White House on Tuesday calling on President Joe Biden to grant him clemency.
He’s been in prison for nearly 50 years.
Melinda Tuhus reports.
The day marked Peltier’s 79th birthday.
He’s said to be in poor health and has been imprisoned for the deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in 1975.
Indigenous leaders, allies, and his attorney are calling for Peltier’s freedom, saying there’s no evidence tying him to the crime and that exculpatory evidence was withheld at trial.
Fawn Sharp (Quinault Indian Nation) was among speakers at the rally.
She’s president of the National Congress of American Indians.
“We’re also here with purpose to call out the president of the United States, the only person on the face of this planet that has the sole decision – it is a choice he has to make to release Leonard, our relative. We call on the President of the United States to release our elder!”
The event included the lifting up of an enormous banner with their demand.
Sharp, Nick Tilsen (Oglala Lakota), president and CEO of NDN Collective, and Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, were arrested outside the White House.
According to NDN Collective, the leaders were among 35 people arrested by U.S. Park Police after the U.S. Secret Service cleared people from the rally on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Peltier is incarcerated in a maximum-security prison in Florida.
Outside the coastal community of Florence, Ore., major renovation and construction work are underway.
The Siuslaw Estuary restoration project will convert nearly 200 acres of old dairy farm land into habitat that will benefit wildlife, especially salmon.
As KLCC’s Brian Bull (Nez Perce) reports, a Native American tribe is among the partners.
On a flat, muddy area of reddish claylike soil, an excavator digs away at what will eventually become a primary channel in what used to be marsh.
Jesse Beers (sha’yuushtl’a uhl quuiich hiich) examines the site for anything ranging from pottery shards to human remains.
He’s the cultural stewardship manager for the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.
Beers says it’s an essential collaboration.
“During the treaty process when our treaty wasn’t ratified, our lands were never legally ceded. So that’s part of the reason we see ourselves as such big stewards of our lands and waters. Because we don’t really have the population or the capacity anymore to manage those lands as we used to, it’s very important for us to work with our partners such as Mackenzie River Trust and Siuslaw Watershed Council holistically to restore these lands and waters.”
The Siuslaw Estuary Restoration Project is slated to take two years at a cost of $10 million.
That’s on top of the purchase of the dairy farm, which was $750,000 funded by a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
Margaret Treadwell is the McKenzie River Trust’s Central Coast Conservation Program Manager.
She says the partnership will make a noticeable difference.
“You will see the river return, particularly at the high tides, up into this area that we’re looking at right now. So the river will be coming back in here bringing saltwater, creating just a nice passage for fish to come up through here and spend their juvenile time.”
When finished, planners say six miles of habitat will provide feeding and rearing grounds for salmon, steelhead, and lamprey, as well as shorebirds.
There will also be a tribal naming ceremony for the area, and a canoe landing is also part of the design.
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