Leonard Peltier (born September 12, 1944) is a Native American activist and member of the American Indian Movement. In 1977 he was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two FBI Agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There has been considerable debate over Peltier’s guilt and the fairness of his trial. Some supporters and organizations, including Amnesty International, consider him to be a political prisoner. Amnesty International said, for example, that "Although he has not been adopted as a prisoner of conscience, there is concern about the fairness of the proceedings leading to his conviction and it is believed that political factors may have influenced the way the case was prosecuted." Numerous lawsuits have been filed on his behalf but none has succeeded. Peltier is currently incarcerated at the United States penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.------Leonard Peltier was born in September 1944 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the son of Leo Peltier and Alvina Robideau. He spent his early years living with his grandparents on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. Peltier became involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM), eventually becoming the only person to serve a lengthy prison term for any of numerous incidents arising from the conflicts that occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the early 1970s.----------Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is an Indian Reservation located primarily in northern North Dakota. It is the land-base for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.The Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation was established by Presidential Executive Order on December 21, 1882. The main reservation lies in the northern part of Rolette County, North Dakota and has a land area of 175.039 km² (67.583 sq mi) and a 2000 census population of 5,815 persons. However, there are very extensive off-reservation trust lands that make the reservation's lands the most widely dispersed of all reservations in the nation. These lands are spread across 22 counties in three states: North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. Including these lands the reservation's land area rises more than three-fold to 603.560 km² (233.036 sq mi). Its total resident population at the 2000 census was 8,331. Rolette County itself has the largest portion of off-reservation trust land, but there are significant parcels in Phillips, Blaine, Sheridan, and Roosevelt Counties in Montana, and in Williams County, North Dakota. Sixteen other counties have lesser amounts of land.----------------The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Oglala Oyanke in Lakota, also called Pine Ridge Agency) is an Oglala Sioux Native American reservation located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Pine Ridge was established in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border and consists of 8,984.306 km² (3,468.86 sq mi) of land area, the eighth-largest reservation in the United States, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
Most of the land comprising the reservation lies within Shannon County and Jackson County, two of the poorest counties in the U.S. In addition, there are extensive off-reservation trust lands, mostly in adjacent Bennett County, but also extending into adjacent Pine Ridge, Nebraska in Sheridan County, just south of the community of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the reservation's administrative center and largest community. The 2000 census population of all these lands was 15,521. However, a study conducted by Colorado State University and accepted by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development estimate the resident population to be approximately 26,000.---Pine Ridge Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and originally encompassed approximately 60 million acres (240,000 km²) of parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. In 1876, the U.S. government violated the treaty of 1868 by opening up 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) of the Black Hills to homesteaders and private interests. In 1889 the remaining area of Great Sioux Reservation was divided into seven separate reservations: Cheyenne River Agency, Crow Creek Agency, Lower Brule Agency, Rosebud Agency, Sisseton Agency, Yankton Agency and Pine Ridge Agency.
On December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee, over 300 men, women and children were killed by the United States 7th Cavalry. The Native Americans were being transported to the Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge.--------------Starting on February 27, 1973, the reservation was the site of the Wounded Knee Incident, a 71-day stand-off between entrenched American Indian Movement (AIM) activists and FBI agents and the National Guard. The AIM activists were led by Dennis Banks and Russell Means. During the firefight, two FBI agents were killed and a U.S. Marshal was paralyzed.
Following the peaceful conclusion of the 1973 stand-off, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation experienced several years of violent incidents. The murder rate between March 1, 1973 and March 1, 1976 was 170 per 100,000. Detroit had a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 in 1974 and at the time was considered “the murder capital of the US.” The national average was 9.7 per 100,000. It was originally noted by AIM representatives that there were many unsolved murders of a number of opponents of the tribal government installed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, In 2000, this theory was "debunked" when the FBI released a report accounting for most of the deaths.AIM, in turn, offered its own rebuttal to the FBI report. One of the murders during that period involved a civil rights activist, Ray Robinson, who worked with Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young in the 1960s. His body has not been found.-----------
On June 26, 1975, the reservation was the site of an armed confrontation between AIM activists and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in an event which became known as the Pine Ridge Shootout.This resulted in the death of two FBI agents and one AIM activist. The hunt for the killer(s) of the two FBI agents led to the controversial acquittals of AIM members Bob Robideau and Dino Butler as well as the extradition, trial, and conviction of Leonard Peltier.. The perceived lack of substantive evidence in Peltier's trial is the subject of much controversy.
On February 24, 1976, Anna Mae Aquash, a Mi'kmaq activist and member of AIM was found shot to death by the side of State Road 73 in the far northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The alleged motives for the murder was the mistaken belief that Ms. Aquash was a government informant but that she also knew Leonard Peltier killed the FBI agents in 1975. In 2004, one of Anna's captors was found guilty of murder. Another suspect was recently extradited to the U.S. to also stand trial for the murder.