Leonard Peltier: ‘We are victorious’

By Leonard Peltier
November 29, 2023

The following edited message, written by Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), was read by Chal’Inaru Dones (Taino) at the 54th annual National Day of Mourning on Nov. 23, 2023, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Peltier has been falsely imprisoned for 48 years.  To join the campaign to win his freedom, go to whoisleonardpeltier.info/

Know that my spirit is with you on this Day of Mourning, honoring a past stained with blood and tears, bearing a hopeful present, and a victorious future.

Since those ships came in 1492, every day has been a Day of Mourning. And every day has also brought to us the struggle for nothing less than our unconditional liberty.

Alcatraz stands as a monument to our struggle; Plymouth Rock, a testament to our resilience. The oppressors have tried to push us to a precipice since their arrival. Yet we remain.

We respond by being who we are and always have been: the First People, caretakers of Mother Earth. She gives us birth, gives us life, her strength runs through our veins.

Her strength is our strength. When our journey ends, we return to her womb.

The Creator sets our path before us. We walk that path and we do not retreat.

The greed of the colonizers will be their undoing. Colonial society has no real strength. Their money says, “In God We Trust.” And how apropos. Money is the oppressors’ god. They strip Mother Earth bare through their policies of greed and corruption.

Never forget, our strength comes from giving back; from protecting ourselves, each other, our women, our children, Mother Earth.

I have spent most of my life caged. But they cannot cage the soul of a Sundancer.

My grandfather taught me a long time ago what I must be and do for my people. That can and never will be caged.

We are changing the world. Every one of us must grasp what is ours to change.

History is not something that happens in a vacuum. History is forged. And forge we will until victorious.

At the Battle of Greasy Grass, we are victorious.  At Standing Rock, we are victorious. At the Black Hills, our sacred site and resistance, we are victorious.

Brothers, Sisters, Two Spirits, you know my story. It is the same story since 1492.

They contrived to prosecute me with proven fabricated evidence and sentenced me to two life sentences to cover up their own wrong doing of murder and atrocities against our people.

But plant a tree for me. That tree will hold a memory. And like it, you must remember your language. Remember your people. Remember your culture.

My liberty is bound to yours. The time is now. We stand together or we perish apart.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,


Leonard Peltier