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More Making a Difference Activities

The Godchild Project - Helping Youth in Guatemala

The Godchild Project, outside of Antigua, Guatemala, cares for impoverished Guatemalan children, families, and communities through sponsorship, health care, education, housing, and human development. Since 91.5% of Guatemala's rural population earns $100 or less per month, many children are unable to complete their elementary education, effectively binding them to this cycle of poverty.

Many classrooms in America are already helping the Godchild project. Some raise money to become a "sponsor" of a particular young child. The social workers select the most needy children, who receive aid for their entire family, focusing on education, health care, housing, and emergency relief. They exchange letters and photographs with their child and their family. For only $30 US per month, your class can sponsor another needy child to become "affiliated" with this project. Other classes have even come down here for 7-12 days to as a "work crew," helping the Guatemalan staff. Many people say that this is a life changing experience. Some Spanish classes have donated books to improve their library.

The Park Valley Catholic Schools had a creative fund raiser for the Godchild project last year. Fourteen classrooms competed in a "Penny Challenge" to see which classroom could collect the most pennies. In three days, they raised nearly $2,000. That's a lot of pennies!

Please support the Godchild Project in whatever way, small or big, you can. Contact them at godchild@bigfoot.com!

Indigenous in the US - Free Leonard Peltier!

Leonard Peltier
Caption

"If in these United States, our Indian people cannot through vision and courage and unity and compassion prevail, what hope any place on earth is there for indigenous people?...

"And if we fail, who would want to be a part of what's left? Because it would be a genocidal society that had succeeded in its genocide, in the extermination of not just a peoples, but of right and decency and justice"

-Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General

"On June 26, 1975 two FBI agents allegedly searching for a young Indian accused of stealing a pair of used cowboy boots spotted several men enter a red pick-up truck. They followed the truck briefly. The occupants of the truck pulled over. Shots were fired though no one knows who fired first.

There's a movie made by Robert Redford called "Incident at Oglala" that documents much of what occurred on the Lakota Reservation. It's available in a lot of video stores.

And check out these websites:

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

The "Free Leonard" page of the American Indian Movement Website

"Soon the situation exploded into a firefight involving 30 or so Indian men, women, and children and over 150 FBI agents, BIA police, US Marshals and the local police known as GOONs. Two agents and a young Indian activist died. Within hours of the shootout, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights which labeled it "a full scale vendetta", hundreds of paramilitary equipped, combat-clad FBI agents and US Marshals staged a dragnet through the reservation in a fever of revenge in which men, women, and children were terrified and properties and homes were ransacked. There was no investigation into the death of the Native American." [From the Leonard Peltier Defense Comittee website.]

Leonard Peltier is an American Indian, Chippewa/Lakota to be exact, 55 years old. February 6th, 1999 marked Leonard's twenty-third year in prison - the 23rd year of two life sentences he was given for supposedly being responsible for the deaths of the two federal agents. His case has been controversial and opposed by many people during those 23 years.

Among the reasons for this opposition are, according to the Former U.S. Attorney General:

  • "You have to remember no witness really said they saw Leonard take aim at anybody. No witness said they heard him shoot at the time he could have killed an agent. There was no evidence that he did it, except fabricated, circumstantial evidence, overwhelmingly misused, concealed and perverted."

  • "The FBI laboratory, is the subject of a whole series of reports that condemn it for fabricating evidence, for falsifying evidence, for incompetence in evaluation of evidence."

  • "They covered up lab reports that said they could not connect the one bullet...with the gun they were trying to place in Leonard Peltier's hands."

And in 1993, Lynn Crooks, the main prosecutor in the case against Leonard admitted "We do not know who shot the two agents... We did not prove who did it."

What IS known is that in only a couple years, more than 40 Indian peoples on the Lakota reservation had died violent deaths, overwhelmingly from activity provoked by the federal government. In March of 1975 alone, seven people were killed by violence. Leonard Peltier was part of a group called AIM, the American Indian Movement, that brought in 17 members to defend the local population from harassment and violence.

That was over 20 years ago, and as the US enters the new millenium, it still holds Leonard in prison.

Caption
According to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, "Leonard was recently recognized as a Human Rights Defender at the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris... A call was made by representatives of various NGOs such as Danielle Mitterand, President of Amnesty International Pierre Sane and Rigoberta Menchu to others of the international community to intervene in Leonard Peltier's case. Rigoberta Menchu made a particularly moving statement in support of Leonard Peltier."

Leonard's only hope for freedom is a pardon by President Clinton. And the only hope for that is for President Clinton to be overwhelmed by public sentiment in support of Leonard. Please read what you can about Leonard's case, and educate yourself about the situation of native people in your own country, be it the US or another. Please consider writing a letter to President Clinton, where you very politely but firmly stress your support for Leonard. The following is a sample letter provided by the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

ALSO, consider asking your city council as well as local educational, religious, social, and cultural organizations to generate resolutions and proclamations in support of Leonard. You CAN Make a Difference!

"For the good of indigenous people everywhere, and all those who depend on them, which is everybody else, it is imperative that we, you and I, secure the freedom of Leonard Peltier."

-Ramsey Clark


Dear Mr. President,

I am writing you in concern of racism in the United States of America and more specifically, the case of Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier has been incarcerated now for twenty-three years despite the fact that the government has conceded on numerous occasions that they do not know who is responsible for the deaths of the agents or what part Leonard Peltier may have had in them. This blatant disregard for justice exemplifies and symbolizes an attitude of racism toward First Nations Peoples by the United States government. I do not believe that relations between our nations can be healed while Leonard Peltier remains behind bars. Between 1973 and 1976 over sixty Indigenous people were murdered on the Pine Ridge Reservation which was why Leonard Peltier chose to go there and protect those that were being targeted for these killings. NONE of these murders have ever been investigated. What does it say to Indigenous peoples and conscientious non-Indigenous peoples when a government shows no concern over the deaths of members of First Nations but yet will go to any length to blame the deaths of two FBI agents on an Indigenous person, innocence not being a factor? Why should we have faith in the U.S. justice system when you have ignored millions of our letters and phone calls voicing our justified indignation with the continued incarceration of Leonard Peltier?

Why should we have faith in the justice system when the government convicted Leonard Peltier of first degree murder, but when their evidence was impeached during an appeal, they then changed their theory to aiding and abetting? Since Leonard Peltier's co-defendants were found innocent on grounds of self-defense, this sudden change of theory looks to us like a ridiculous excuse to keep an innocent man in prison. I strongly urge you to do the right thing and grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier. Millions of people internationally know the case of Leonard Peltier and what it symbolizes and millions upon millions more continue to learn about it. If you ignore us, the prolonged incarceration of the most well-known advocate for Indigenous People in the U.S. will add to political unrest and the break down of faith in U.S. justice. If you listen to our valid demands for justice, you will be remembered by millions for a gracious act which you will go down in history for. Leonard is suffering from severe health conditions. He filed for executive clemency five years ago. Please do not send me a form letter stating that his petition is still under review by the justice department. Instead, pplease look into this case and take immediate action. Thank you.

Sincerely,
 
 
Email your letters to:president@whitehouse.gov
Or via Snail Mail:

President Bill Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500
202-456-1111

cc your clemency letters to:
US Pardon Attorney
Roger C Adams
500 First Street NW Suite 400
Ref: Leonard Peltier #89637-132
Washington DC 20530
202-616-6070

 

Meeting Rigoberta - 5'2", But Better Than Michael Jordan!
Team - What About the US? - The "Extermination" and "Termination" of a People
Kavitha - Meet the Folks Who Work Hard for Your Cup of Joe
Shawn - Shots in the Night - Life in Todos Santos
Shawn - Close Quarters in Todos Santos
...Kid's Version
Abeja - You CAN teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Maia - Quetzal - The Flight to Freedom

 
 
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