In 1977, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to consecutive life terms for killing two FBI agents. Then in 2000, a Freedom of Information Act disclosure proved the Feds had framed him. But Leonard's still in prison. This is the story of what happened on the Pine Ridge Reservation half a century ago—and the man who's still behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.
The FBI transferred Special Agents Jack Kohler and Ronald Williams to Pine Ridge to help with a backlog of cases despite neither having any training, experience, or special preparation for the civil war raging on the reservation. On June 25th, the day before the shootout, a colleague advised the pair not to return to the Jumping Bulls on their own, but the G-men ignored the warning with deadly results. In “Sacrificed” we examine the Bureau’s motivations and the beginnings of their ResMurs investigation.
Good Indian Guides
In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1975, daylight was breaking on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation when Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, and Dino Butler discovered they’d been hiking in the wrong direction. Instead of finding themselves in Manderson, a nearby community home to numerous allies, they were in Pine Ridge village, the command center for the largest manhunt in American history. Hear how a handful of unsung local heroes risked it all to rescue the fugitives from the belly of the beast.
The Great Escape
To avoid the tragic fate of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull who were killed after surrendering to the US government, AIM leader Dennis Banks was persuaded to leave Wounded Knee the night before the federal stand down on May 8th, 1973. The warrior selected to lead his escape party was Lenny Foster, a Diné Navajo who has since become Leonard Peltier’s spiritual adviser. Hear how Lenny was able to evade detection and smuggle Dennis Banks to safety with the help of the spirits.
Over the course of his tenure, President Trump issued 143 pardons, but he showed no mercy to Leonard Peltier. In this episode Leonard reacts to Trump’s snub; filmmaker Kevin McKiernan joins us for a conversation with Indian treaty expert Charles Wilkinson; and Carol Gokee from the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee shares important updates on Leonard’s case and medical condition.
Incident at Pacific Palisades
According to the documentary’s director, accomplished filmmaker Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Thunderheart, The World Is Not Enough), Robert Redford ruined “Incident at Oglala” out of fear of upsetting the powers that be. Although Redford was scarcely involved in the production of the documentary, he became heavily involved in its post-production, exercising his authority as executive producer to censor the final cut. When Mr. Apted objected to the omission of a vital section of commentary from two circuit court judges criticizing the handling of Leonard’s trial, he was overruled and banned from the film’s Sundance premiere.
Political prisoners are often forgotten because the government disappears them into the system. Leonard’s art draws attention back to his story, which is why some would rather silence him. In this bonus episode we speak with UCLA professor Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa, who explains why Leonard’s art is a powerful example of indigenous resilience, and Larry Hildes, the civil liberties attorney fighting for Leonard’s right to free speech. We also attend the second annual Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration at Los Angeles City Hall with Oglala Lakota tribal presidential candidate Chase Iron Eyes, who opens up about his arrest at Standing Rock and why he believes the United States should free Leonard to promote a conciliation with indigenous nations.
This is an excellent program I think everyone should listen to immediately!
Listen while you tour South Dakota
Essential history, learning so much while we drive through South Dakota and visit the Black Hills. I worked in the Black Hills at a national monument in 2006 and never knew this true history. Very grateful to Edgar Bear Runner, Leonard Peltier, and the hosts of this show.
I’m Late to this podcast. I really wanted to like it but sadly it just misses the mark for me. The history is really important and something I care a great deal about, but no way could I get through this.
1) 6 episodes in and I still don’t know what Leonard did or allegedly did. Then they have a lawyer say it wasn’t murder, but they never say what it actually is, and continue later to say it was, in fact, murder. Really confusing.
2) way too many drums for binge listeners. It goes on constantly and causes headaches.
3) no organization. Did they have a plan for this podcast? It’s all over the place and half of each episode repeats interview snippets.