Thanksgiving & Leonard Peltier

A confession – I love Thanksgiving.  My wife and I, plus our children and grandchildren, celebrate on Cape Cod with my brother and his family.  It is such a warm and cozy break from what is often the most frenetic time of the year at the Rosenberg Fund for Children.  I often joke – my family will say much too often – that I give thanks on Thanksgiving for surviving until Thanksgiving.

But the holiday rests upon a problematic cultural mythology: the supposed feast that I’m sure never happened, at which Native Americans cheerfully joined the Pilgrims and helped the latter to survive their first winter in the New World.  Given the Europeans’ genocide, and theft of indigenous people’s land, it would be reasonable for Native Americans to resent these festivities.

This is why a letter that accompanied a contribution we just received from a new supporter affected me so strongly.

“I am making this donation on behalf of my [recently deceased] father … a member of the American Indian Movement …. Thanks to my dad I know what it is like to be a daughter so proud (and sometimes so scared) of having a parent deeply committed to social justice.  I think it is important for children to feel safe, to feel taken care of, to be able to count on something.  The work you do is so important.”

And I am reminded of RFC Advisory Board Member Leonard Peltier.  I wish we had the power to free him from his 37 years in prison, but I am so proud, through the RFC’s Attica Fund Prison Visit Program, to have enabled Leonard’s children, grandchildren and now even his great grandchildren to visit him in prison.  (The photo included with this post was taken on one of these recent visits.)

Perhaps a fitting, if ironic, way to celebrate this Thanksgiving would be to take some action on his behalf.   One possibility is to sign a petition to the White House asking for Leonard’s release.  The organizers write:

“We have reached the first milestone to getting an official response from the Whitehouse.  I know you have signed many petitions, this one is different. -- Here is why.  We are guaranteed an official response from the Whitehouse as long as we meet the threshold of 25,000 signatures before Dec 13.

Here is the link to sign:  Here is further help if you have trouble signing:

We have lost Russell Means and Mary Jane Wilson, let's not lose Leonard too. Let him be outside in nature where he belongs.”

Another possibility, if you live in the New York City area, is to join RFC Advisory Board members Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, and other artists and activists including Jackson Browne and Bruce Cockburn, on December 14, 2012 at the Beacon Theater for a concert to “Bring Leonard Peltier Home in 2012.”

On this Thanksgiving and afterwards, let’s all do what we can.  It is past time for Leonard to be home with his family.

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