Leonard Peltier Reflects on Death of His Sister, Vivian

Vivian Peltier with grandchild

Vivian Peltier with grandchild

COLEMAN, FLORIDA—Leonard Peltier, a tribal citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, is serving a life sentence in the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida. He was convicted in 1977 of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

On Friday, Peltier became aware his sister, Vivian Peltier, died of complications from diabetes.

Here is Peltier’s statement released shortly after learning of Vivian’s death:

I received word this morning from my niece, Kari Ann that my sister Vivian has passed on. She is my little sister and was 67. She was plagued by many health issues and the long trip to visit me was too much for her to make so I had not seen here in years. I still have my younger full sister Betty Ann and all our half brothers and sisters, but I have not seen most of them in many years.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier has been in prison for nearly 40 years

There is no doubt that I will not be allowed to be go to Turtle Mountain for Vivian and her family.

At times like this the powerlessness of being here seems most overwhelming. When my father passed on and my sister, Robin, and brother, Alan, passed on, I was not allowed to go see them off and say goodbye. Those are painful memories for me.

Vivian died from complications of diabetes—a disease I have and many of our family and our relatives in other tribal nations suffer with.

I will have to try to fill my time with remembering her as a little girl and as a beautiful young woman. She was 27 when I came to prison.

I regret that I cannot be there for her and our family now.

It is 2000 miles from my cell here in Florida to my home in Turtle Mountain, North Dakota and more than a thirty hour drive in a good car; so family visits have been very rare for me.

And I feel powerless to help the family now.

Vivian was married to a migrant farm worker and I know they had no money and I think her children have mostly followed that line of work so are also without any savings to help. I wish I could help to pay for her funeral and for people to get there. I will only hear about her funeral when it is long over and someone comes to visit me sometime in the future.

I have rarely asked for donations to help with family matters, but will ask you now. If any of you, my friends, are able to and would want to donate to her funeral expenses, I would be deeply grateful.

I know she left the nation to follow the picking seasons and doubt that the tribe has the money to bring her home to be put to rest with our family. As the older brother I should have been able to help her more over the years.

Thank you for any help you might be able to give to us.

I am feeling more powerless than usual today. It seems that nothing is normal now. Even in this violent and chaotic place I can usually keep my footing but today I am feeling lost and without strength to be there for my family when I am needed the most.

Thank you for listening, my dear friends.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,


Leonard Peltier

For Vivian Peltier Funeral Fund, please contact:

Sandra LaFrombois Villanueva
828 Cascade Street
Wenatchee, Washington 98801


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