Eloy Martinez, Ms. Jessie Riddle, Len Foster, Tony Gonzales, Director AIM-WEST
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — The Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, California, recently hosted the celebration of the 42nd Anniversary of Wounded Knee. The event drew many veterans from 1973 and others from Northern California, and was organized by AIM-WEST Director, Tony Gonzales. Eloy Martinez, a veteran of the Alcatraz Occupation from 1969-1971 spoke about his experiences. Ms. Jessie Riddle, (Pitt River, Apache) spoke eloquently about her experiences at Wounded Knee in 1973.
Mr. Len Foster (Diné) who is the spiritual advisor to Leonard Peltier, spoke at length about his involvement with Wounded Knee and other very relevant topics.
“At the time of Wounded Knee 1973, I was a member of the Denver chapter of the American Indian Movement. I spent 71 days at the Little Big Horn bunker with these other warriors. We survived eleven fire fights, while protecting the Eastern boundaries of the community. The big issue at the time was protecting treaty rights of the Oglala Sioux Nation, and seeking compliance of those treaty rights by the U.S. government”, said Foster. “Today we are here to commemorate the sacrifices, and honor those who fought for our indigenous rights. We’ve lost many relatives in the struggle, and pay homage to those who still struggle today,” continued Foster.
“Leonard Peltier is still in prison. His health is not good, but we continue to pray for him, and hold ceremonies for him. He is suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and they continue to harass him. He remains strong, and we continue to advocate for a presidential clemency from President Obama by the end of 2016,” said Foster.
When asked about the current situation for Lakota youth in South Dakota, Len Foster was direct and honest: “The racism is becoming intense and worse than ever before in Oglala and in other parts of South Dakota. But they will prevail and pursue legal action as well as financial sanctions against those responsible.”
The 42nd Anniversary of Wounded Knee celebration highlighted all the current concerns and issues facing Native nations today. “We want the D.C. football team to change their name. We must continue to help one another as Native people, to work together for the changes we want to see, and we will prevail. It is a difficult struggle, and many tribal leaders have sold out their dignity and their soul. They are selling out for money, based on individual greed. But this event demonstrates the generational commitment that began in 1492; we remain, and we shall prevail,” said Foster.