Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance
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Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance [Hardcover]

Leonard Peltier , Harvey Arden
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1999
Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

In 1977, Leonard Peltier received a life sentence for the murder of two FBI agents. He has affirmed his innocence ever since—his case was made fully and famously in Peter Matthiessen's bestselling In the Spirit of Crazy Horse—and many remain convinced he was wrongly convicted. This wise and unsettling book, both memoir and manifesto, chronicles his life in Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. Invoking the Sun Dance, in which pain leads one to a transcendent reality, Peltier explores his suffering and the insights it has borne him. He also locates his experience within the history of the American Indian peoples and their struggles to overcome the federal government's injustices.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Peltier, arrested more than two decades ago on charges stemming from conflict with the FBI on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, has become a symbol of the oppression of Indians and other indigenous people. Indeed, he is perhaps the most famous inmate in the U.S., regarded by many as a political prisoner, with Robert Redford, author Peter Mathiesson, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, and others calling for his release. He remains incarcerated, often in horrific conditions. As if engaged in the sun dance, in which apparently unendurable sufferings are embraced as a spiritual testimony, Peltier writes of his life, before and behind bars, with anger but not rancor. Since his youth as a warrior, he has become a spiritual elder whose words offer much to Indians and non-Indians alike. "We don't need more prisons," he writes. "We need more compassion. That compassion is our own highest possibility." His own simple, eloquent compassion for his captors as well as himself makes this a remarkable and moving book. Patricia Monaghan

From Kirkus Reviews

Part manifesto, part memoir, a standout collection by the celebrated, long-imprisoned American Indian Movement co-founder and activist. Peltier, a Sioux Indian, has been in federal prison since 1977, convicted of killing two FBI agents during the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee, S.D. Peltier asserts that he did not commit these murders, writing simply, Innocence has a single voice that can only say over and over, I didnt do it. Guilt has a thousand voices, all of them lies. (In his preface, former attorney general Ramsey Clark makes a compelling argument for why we should believe Peltier, a case also made by Peter Matthiessen in his much-litigated book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse). In this anthology, Peltier charts the course of his activism, describing his evolution from a young man on a South Dakota reservation who wanted what other young men in his circumstances wanteda car, a jobto a political organizer keenly aware of the injustices visited past and present on Americas indigenous peoples. Although he too easily falls into sloganeering (We are the voices of the earth. We speak for those who are not yet born. When you exclude us, you exclude your own conscience. We are your conscience!), Peltier has much to say about American Indian politics, a dauntingly complex set of issues; among other things, he insists that the US government follow a Canadian model in offering reparations for historical wrongs. He also advances the plausible view that the siege at Wounded Knee was a sideshow meant to disguise a deal through which a uranium-rich portion of the Pine Ridge Sioux reservation was ceded to the federal government. Writing more personally, Peltier recounts the intricacies of living behind bars. As a houseguest in hell, he writes, you learn that the devil has many mansions, and you keep shuttling between them for no known reason. An important contribution to Native American letters, sure to stir both controversy and renewed attention for Peltiers ongoing quest for freedom. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 243 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (June 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312203543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312203542
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 4.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spirits Cry Through His Writings September 3, 2001
"Prison Writings", by Leonard Peltier, is quite an eye-opener. This political prisoner maintains his innocence and demonstrates it through his heart and compassion. At times, each chapter appears to be a stream of consciousness dependent on his mood (he wrote it in prison where he still remains), but he always evaluated his mood and came back full circle and has come to terms that he may never leave but that his hope in humanity might help lift him and thousands of others wrongfully imprisoned.
His words have compelled me to do further research and there are many related books, articles and even a documentary film by Robert Redford titled "Incident at Oglala: The Leonard Peltier Story". I encourage everyone to read it and watch the film available through rental or purchase.
Whether you believe in his innocence or not is not the point. The point is that our current system remains flawed despite the cold hearts that are too scared to take a serious look into their conscience.
Leonard Peltier has definitely changed my once hardened heart. I am still a cynic and angry often, but thinking about his struggles through unfair justice keeps me focused. It is an easy read if you don't mind the harsh realities of our justice system, or lack thereof!
"Mitakuye Oyasin!" Learn this meaning from his book - it will serve you well in your life.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Having myself been at one time a skeptic of Peltier's fantastic claims, I became convinced of his innocence after poring over the considerable & incontrovertible evidence that clearly proves this man is a victim of political repression. But this book is only secondarily about how Peltier was purposely made a scapegoat by an out-of-control, Gestapo-esque FBI, and by a few unscrupulous scoundrels within Department of Justice [sic]. (That astonshing, disturbing history has been recounted elsewhere, e.g., "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" or "Agents of Repression".)
Instead, in "Prison Writings" Peltier focuses more on the continuing historical struggle of his people to be treated with dignity and equality; offers insights into the realities of contemporary Indian existence beyond the sham portrayals in popular culture; and shows how his perceptions and opinions have been molded by his own experiences, from childhood to the starkness of prison life.
To be honest, I had not expected Peltier's book to be so well written, profound, and powerful; after all, Peltier's involvement with the American Indian Movement was not that of a fiery public speaker, decision-maker, or clever stager of outrageous stunts for the media (like some of AIM's leaders). Instead, Peltier's work with AIM was characterized by his preference to quietly perform the unglamorous yet neccessary tasks to serve his people (e.g., hauling water to homes with no plumbing, making home repairs, babysitting, fixing cars, chastising teenagers to be abstinent from alcohol and drugs, chopping firewood, etc).
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55 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whether or not you believe . . . March 10, 2001
Whether or not you believe that Leonard Peltier really murdered two FBI agents in cold blood, you must read this book. The United States imprisons more people, *and* more people per capita, than any other nation in the world! Leonard's poignant book gives the reader a feel for *one* story of life behind bars. Not a journal or a story, per se, but a series of reflections, of meditations, of poems about life as a prisoner, life as a *political* prisoner in the Land of the Free.
You, who read this, with access to a personal computer, cannot begin to wrap your life around the experience of being caged. Of having every aspect of your life regulated. You, who grew up white, privileged, cannot wrap your mind around the experience of being beaten up simply because you spoke your native language. You, who grew up on land you "owned," have insulated yourself from imagining the pain of having your people destroyed, your culture outlawed, and your identity trampled into the mud.
So don't buy this book. Your will be able to continue your life comfortably. You'll be able to proceed with that warm fuzzy feeling that things are OK with the world, and that even if agent Fox Mulder has died, the FBI is really on *your* side.
Don't buy this book. You don't want to begin to feel what Leonard feels, caged in Leavenworth. Don't buy this book, it's easier to pretend that *those* people deserve to be locked up, that *those* people are animals, that the *justice* system really works most of the time. Don't buy this book, you don't want to have any inkling about what it feels like when justice miscarries.
Leonard Peltier wasn't (Mark) Rich enough for a Clinton pardon. He has exhausted his legal appeals.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, compelling, inspritational. January 24, 2003
United States Prisoner #89637-132, a hero and a brave man,
full of spirit. Nothing, not even false imprisonment
can take that away from him. This book will bring you to
tears and warm your heart, as does the traditoinal but
improvised sun dance. The miscarriage of justice may
anger you, and my prayers are that enough of the readers
of this book will contact their congressmen, anyone that
will listen, and hopefully free this innocent man. In the
meantime, he lives his life with dignity and shines with
honor. His ancestors would be proud of him.
I read this book in one sitting, as I was unable to put
it down, and neither will you. May God Bless Mr. Leonard
Pelletier and all Native Americans that continue to endure
what the white man has done to all of the Indian tribes!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
Read it for the wisdom and insights into life and justice. Read it to educate yourself about Leonard Peltier's situation in particular, and the situation of many Native Americans... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Elena Margo
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are an American do yourself a justice and read this book.
The exploitation of the Native American people is something that has been highly covered-up and forgotten by the main stream culture. Read more
Published 6 months ago by -_- TracE
4.0 out of 5 stars True experiences
I sent this book to my fiance that is also being treated unfair within the iron walls of the judicial system, he praised me for giving him this gift because he feels that both... Read more
Published 8 months ago by veronica fender
5.0 out of 5 stars Further understanding of American Indians
A heart wrenching and yet very fascinating book to read. I learned much about the American Indians wait of life and the struggles of just how racism can affect the life of a person... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Pat Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book to anyone interested in Native American...
Leonard Peltier is a Political Prisoner. He is a Native American poet, artist and activist. His fight for Native American rights has continued from behind prison walls. Read more
Published 9 months ago by L. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational.
This only took me a day to read. It invokes so many different emotions. I only hope to god someone listens. Leonard Peltier is an inspiration to all mankind. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Wendy Ingrilli
5.0 out of 5 stars Prison Writings
My God!!! Read this book a good example of how the American Indian is treated in this day and age!!!
Published 12 months ago by Vito
4.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Peltier
I believe a book written straight from Leonard's heart. Anyone interested in Leonard Peltier's "journey" since 1975, should read this book.
Published 13 months ago by Dean Thomason
5.0 out of 5 stars Important to know
In our country we don't like to think that we could possibly be carrying out the kind of inhumane and unlawful actions we accuse other nations of perpetrating against their people. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Esperanza Borboa
5.0 out of 5 stars book
was very happy with the product it is described exactly as is would recomend to buy it if this is what you want
Published 15 months ago by Sandra Villanueva
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