Leonard Peltier on the Elder Singing AIM Song at Lincoln Memorial; Breaks Down Song’s Origin

Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, seen here standing before American Indian elder Nathan Phillips.

Published January 22, 2019

COLEMAN, Fla.  — Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who is incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, for his 1977 conviction in connection with a shootout with U.S. government forces, where two FBI agents and one young American Indian lost their lives.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier has been in prison for over 40 years

Peltier, who is considered a political prisoner of war by many, released this statement on the incident that happened at the Lincoln Memorial last Friday when American Indian elder Nathan Phillips (Omaha) sang the American Indian Movement anthem in front of a group of Covington Catholic High School students:

Leonard Peltier Statement on DC Events

I just saw the incident that took place in Washington, D.C. in which a demonstration between the white “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) representatives and a Native elder singing a religious song took a horrendous turn.

There were threats and insults by the young punk wearing the red M.A.G.A. hat while an elder, who happens to be my long time AIM friend and comrade Nate Philipps, was singing a religious song. Now, I see the media and folks changing it around like it was the Natives elder’s fault.

Let me explain to you what the song’s history is:

The Northern Cheyenne People gave this song to the American Indian Movement for an honor song in 1973 after the 71-day occupation of the Wounded Knee, the site of a massacre grave site, which is now a memorial site, owned by a white person.

Wounded Knee is a sacred area for the Lakota peoples, where over 350 elders, men, children, and women with unborn babies still inside of their bodies were slaughtered. There are documented accounts of soldiers who opposed the killing of babies, however there were Calvary soldiers riding their horses around the massacre grounds waving their swords with dead babies on them. The Lakota who had disarmed themselves, given up their weapons of stone tomahawks, bows and arrows and hand thrown spears to the 7th Calvary and raised the white peace flag – and the American flag, after an agreed truce between them.

The leader of the Lakota Band of Native’s was a peace Chief named Bigfoot. The Calvary was heavily armed with portable cannons, rifles, steel bayonets and knives and pistols. The 7th Calvary soldiers were under orders of their commanding officers. After the captives had been fed and convinced them they were safe, and the babies began to quiet down, and sleep under their now warm robes, did not see or hear what was about to happen. The Cavalry like thieves and rapists in the dark of night, surrounding them with those deadly weapons. Just days after Christmas (Isn’t that their Christian God’s Jesus birthday?) after feeding the Natives their last breakfast meal, they began to slaughter them, killing all who could not somehow escape.

A couple decades earlier, this same army surrounded a band of peaceful Northern Cheyenne at Sand Creek and committed the very the same murderous acts, after first approaching the Northern Cheyenne under both flags, the American flag and a white flag! When the Natives were given the flags, they were given a promise that if they exposed and flew these flags the Army would never attack them. Yet over a dozen soldiers were given medals of the highest honor awards that the American government has to bestow. Their soldiers and civilians received these awards for this act of genocide and called it a great victory of war.

Today they call it “Make America Great Again!”

So, a decade or so later, believing their own propaganda that these were victorious battles, these same murderers with dozens of their traitors again attacked the Crow scouts during a religious ceremony called the Sundance, at the Little Big Horn or Greasy Grass Creek (this was what we Natives named it).

This time Crazy Horse and many other young powerful war leaders (we call SHIRT WEARERS of the Lakota Nations) and their allies, the Cheyenne, were at the camp guarding the people, armed only with stone tomahawks, bows and arrows against superior weaponry. They defended and wiped out Custer and his band of murderers and rapists of children, helpless elders, women and babies.

On their way back to camp, the young heroic Cheyenne warriors made up the song now known as the AIM song and rode into camp singing it, and the women and men joined in and the whole camp began to sing it.

The song says thank you to the Great Spirit for allowing our young men to be brave and courageous to fight off and to protect the young children, the women, unborn babies, the elderly woman and men and our leaders.

Singing thank you Great Spirit for giving us the strength to save our children with bravery You gave us. Thank you for showing us your love for our peoples. We pray you give us peace with these people who only want war and to kill our nations/peoples.

This is the meanings behind the words of the AIM song.

So last Friday, this young man stood there acting like he was making fun of our religious leader, and smirking like he was superior to him. Someone should have been there to remind him about the high numbers of evil crimes done to us in the past hundred years! Hundreds of Native children had been raped and the Catholic priest responsible received as punishment a transfer to another church. He should have been reminded that most of the Indian Boarding schools run by Catholics had their own graveyards. Some with as high as 200 unmarked graves!

This is what those kids were demanding: to return to those days when America was supposedly great.

Prayers Up

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