Across Indian Lands 01-13-2023 with transcript, plus you now can hear episodes from 2021 & 2020
We are beginning to add transcriptions to episodes to episodes of Across Indian Land! You can read the interview with Ruth Ann Buffalo below, or to listen to the original audio, go to www.aim-west.org/acrossindianlands and click on January 13th 2023’s episode to listen or download. You can also view the transcript within our podcast player, by clicking on the playlist icon. We will be adding more transcriptions for both future episodes of Across Indian Land, and episodes in our archive (so check back frequently).
We also were able to add to our archive and you can now listen to episodes of Across Indian Lands, going back as far as 2020! This archive will soon include episodes from 2019 and further, as we extract older segment from KPFA archives no longer available to the public, so that can be heard here.
(Note: This rough transcript was made with a little help from the built-in transcriber in Microsoft Word. There may be a few errors in this transcription)
00:00:00 Tony Gonzales
All my relations. Welcome to another segment across Indian land.
This is Tony Gonzales, your host tonight, January 13th and this evening will be playing once again for you a tape recording that I did on KPFA, on Bay Native circle last Wednesday.
I interviewed former state legislator from North Dakota, Ruth Ann Buffalo and Ruth Ann just recently came back from visiting Leonard Peltier political prisoner, 47 years my relatives, incarcerated up there in Florida.
Now let us listen in on that interview for details about Leonard Peltier here. Also, there are two other people on that recording from last Wednesday that you can listen to on the AIM-West website and tune right in at AIM-West.org and that includes Frank Sterling on the controversial question of blood quantum in Indian Country; and also about the two spirit powwow on Saturday, February 24th. But before I begin tonight's segment, I just wanted to mention that a young warrior for Mother Earth has passed on and is now returning home on his journey and that is Christopher Ahmani and he's Hopi and Diné. He was laid to rest on December 30th in Moenkopi adjacent to Tuba City in Arizona and Chris had just turned 28 years old on December 12th. He passed away in a car accident and passed on Arizona near Flagstaff, along with Taylor Tracy, Diné Nation, described by her family as Chris's best friend. His beloved dog and constant companion Zeke survived the accident and is recovering with Chris's family.
Chris had begun working with the International Indian Treaty Council back in 2019 after attending the Treaty Council's fourth International Indian Peoples Corn Conference in Dukes, Lalala, Mexico. Chris was a resolute practitioner of his Hopi ceremonial ways and he spoke his language strong, advocate for the importance of indigenous peoples. Chris was an example, an inspirational role model for all who knew him, my relatives. Our prayers for Chris Ahmani on his journey.
And now closing words said by the Mayan elder and spiritual leader Rosalena.
That to you would have the knowledge holders who Chris supported at the COP 26 and November 2021 in Glasgow. In her words, “speak for everyone”, she said: “I knew him as such a talented young man, full of life, supportive, who worked with political clarity on our lights as millennial peoples. May the universe embrace him on his journey of return so.”
Prayers are for Chris Hernani and his best friend, and that is Taylor Tracy.
00:02:47 Tony Gonzales
And now my relatives, Let's go into that interview that I did last Wednesday on Bay Native circle with Ruth Ann Buffalo about Leonard Peltier and her recent visit with him.
00:02:57 Tony Gonzales
My relatives, I have invited Ruth and Buffalo to the radio station today to talk to us and give us an update on Leonard Peltier. And Ruth Ann Buffalo, former state legislator in North Dakota and she's been on the campaign to free Leonard Peltier. Ruth Ann also spoke last April.
I believe it was written at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples on behalf of Leonard Peltier under the International Indian Treaty Council.
And you were here last in September on Flashpoints with Dennis Bernstein, Ruth and I wanted to call you back, especially with a recent visit that you just had with Leonard, which is great news if you can reintroduce yourselves to the Bay Area, audience and worldwide and tell us a little bit about yourself and some background like that, Thank you.
00:03:46 Ruth Ann Buffalo
(Ruth Anne Buffalo say’s “thank you” in her Indigenous Mandan language) Thank you for having me on your show again. It's an honor to be here with you. I'm originally from Mandaree which is located on the Fort Brussels Indian Reserve in North Dakota, I'm an enrolled citizen of the Mandan Hidatsa Indian Nation, and I'm dialing in from Fargo, ND. So yeah, I appreciate the invite.
I recently was able to visit Leonard in Coleman in a maximum security prison in Sumterville, Florida. I was able to visit him this past Saturday, Sunday, Monday, so New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day in January. So yeah.
00:04:22 Tony Gonzales
Ohh fantastic and please tell us about your visit with him, and [how] his spirits [are] and I'm sure he knows all the efforts underway to see his release.
00:04:33 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Yes, definitely shared with him all of the overwhelming support unprecedented support he has right now for his release. And so we are continuing to push where from wherever we can, to President Joe Biden for his release for Leonard's freedom. So, we are definitely continuing to encourage everybody to contact the White House and ask for Leonard release and his freedom.
00:05:02 Tony Gonzales
And then in your visit with him, you visited him consecutively. During that period 2 weeks ago, how much time did you have with in each of those days? And how did you spend your time today include lunch or anything like that?
00:05:15 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Sure, Yep, so it was Saturday, Sunday, Monday and it was from got to see him from 10:00 AM to three.
Jim on on Saturday and Sunday, which was New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
And then on New Year's Day, he said, well, come come tomorrow at 8:00 AM.
Love longer to visit because that was the final day of the three day visit, so I was able to go see him from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the final day and for food.
So the setting is just this wide open.
Base it kind of reminded me like an old bus stop or an old bus.
People you know, like where the chairs are connected, so they kind of have like 4 different areas like you know all the chairs are connected like booth style sort of.
And then there's this little tiny.
Circular coffee table looking table in between you and the other person sitting directly across from you.
So no tables, no chairs, that you could slide in and out underneath the table.
It was pretty contained. I guess you could say, but for food it was, you know, microwavable stuff in a vending machine. Pretty expensive too, like $6.
Or hamburger or spicy.
The chicken, but the day Monday, January 2nd, I had to spend a little bit more time with him to two extra hours, and so he was able to have like 2 breakfast sandwiches and and a pastry and it gets really cold in that area and it gets really loud at times because there's 20 plus inmates are incarcerated individuals in there plus their families.
The ones friends and so it gets pretty loud in there, so a lot of times I was at the edge of my seat.
Kind of leaning over to hear.
Leonard speaks, but it was a.
Really good visit.
You couldn't take in like a recorder, a camera, notebook and pencil or pen to take notes or anything.
So a lot of times I found myself like repeating some of the things he would share with me.
I would repeat it out loud, back to him, you know, to make sure like it, you know, just trying to.
Make sure I remember everything so.
00:07:09 Tony Gonzales
Please tell us how's his spirits in his faith in the work that people have have launched for his freedom.
How does he feel about all that?
And I'm sure he wants more activity?
And did he share any ideas of what those activities might be to further his campaign for freedom?
00:07:24 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Yes, you you know I was sharing.
What I could with him, you know, on the amount of support like the overwhelming support that he has on the outside.
I was sharing, you know, just the different things I saw through social media.
The different letters, resolutions and I had mentioned, you know, right around Christmas time that there was a video put out by it that was circulating through Twitter and so.
I had shared that with him and he was really happy to hear that he kept asking about it like kind of circling back to it.
Like so I see he did a video and like yeah he did.
He got really excited about that and he's kept smiling a lot.
He seemed really happy and proud when I would tell him.
About you know all of the support from you know across the globe throughout the world of how much people support him and believe so much that he needs to, that he is innocent and that he needs to be back here in North Dakota with his loved ones and his family and the Turtle Mountain.
00:08:17 Tony Gonzales
Indeed, he's a Great grandfather as well and these who then tell us about his health and did he have any complaints? Or does he have access to medical attention?
00:08:26 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Right, no, he still has some pretty serious health conditions that need medical attention that he's still waiting, waiting on, waiting to be to have some procedures done, or either. Wanna you know, like violate HIPAA or anything? Hearing too much, but yeah, he definitely has some serious things that need to be taken care of. He now has a cell mate and so that's also very concerning.
The conditions in Cullman one maximum security in Sumterville, Florida are very poor living conditions and Coleman one goes down goes into lockdown quite a bit. And even if there is like staff shortages, they'll put the incarcerated individuals down in lockdown. He recently gained access back to The Art Room and use of The Art Room has like helped him immensely throughout his time in there. You know, I mean, we all love art and you know how wonderful art is to help us, you know the beauty of art and the healing that art has within it. So I was really happy to hear what day was it. I think it was Sunday.
This past Sunday I had heard from him and that's when he had shared that he he got access to The Art Room and he was pretty excited about that.
But yeah, it's just, you know, very worrisome. I mean, I'm new to the movement and I you know, really want to recognize the grassroots people who have been at the heart of the movement of working tirelessly selflessly to get Leonard's release and to have them out of there. And to be with his family.
So you know people who have been fighting for Leonard's freedom for decades. Since you know 1976, I know we're approaching the anniversary of February 1976, when he first was arrested years ago—and so sorry if my mind is all over the place—but it's it was a heavy visit and I'm thankful just to at least do a small part to try to help, offer support for Leonard and to like help carry everybody's messages of support to him and definitely didn't take the visit lightly and it's a huge responsibility and still have.
Some tasks of like just trying to be a connector and help where I can.
00:10:28 Tony Gonzales
You mentioned back in The Art Room, which is terrific for listeners to know and really do have to go to his website and that is that www.whoisLeonardpeltier.info and you'll see some of Leonard Peltier's artwork. It's really fantastic and how he's developed over the years of 47 years incarceration is really, with his artwork, very good. And it's also for sale which helps support him by and large while he's in there with some of those types of activities with them and let's see the some of the achievements up to this point that toward his freedom that has been launched.
Particularly, there was a walk September to November 13th to Washington, DC from Minneapolis.
There was one or two senators that call for his release to President Biden, and now there's over 7.
I believe senators who have has written to the President. They're calling for release and yourself for our listeners to know more about yourself Ruth Ann Buffalo, and that you were very key in in helping get a resolution passed by the Democratic National Committee. I think that was back in September sometime as well. Can you tell us any other activities that are underway now that that you're aware of or that Leonard himself has mentioned he would like to see done?
00:11:55 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Yes, I know that they're still encouraging everybody to contact your local congressional delegation. Even your tribal leaders. You know, if they haven't signed on to a letter or resolution. Please encourage your tribal leaders to sign off on a resolution urging Biden President Joe Biden for Leonard's freedom clemency. So yeah, there's definitely that ongoing push for public pressure to make sure that we do what we can. You know from where we're at, whether it's you know sharing. Center its website as you mentioned. You know, continuing to educate others, even looking for you. Know, bipartisan support is very important as well.
And so once people look into his case and see the huge injustices, I think they would be, they'll be surely compelled to take action and to contact their local representatives. You know, in every level of government really, you know, City Council, city commissions, county commissions to state government.
The federal government and tribal government. Well, so importantly, I definitely would encourage everybody to continue putting pressure on every level of government from where you're at.
00:13:08 Tony Gonzales
I want to thank you on that score with Dan and I might say, do you feel that this is a mountain that can be overcome for his freedom? You know, like many other people think, that we're biting off more than we can chew, that he'll be in there and he'll just stay there. But we need to be creative about ideas for his freedom. And yeah, how do you feel about that?
00:13:27 Ruth Ann Buffalo
I definitely believe in my heart and everything that he will be free, someday. Trying not to get emotional…But yeah, I mean I, I think of like the next generation and it's so true like from young to old everybody knows his name in this very moment in time. I think it was like my 19 year old daughter. My first born. She continues to like push me and encourage me to try and work harder for Leonard's freedom. I mean, I think back to like September. It was middle of my reelection campaign season, and I got an invite to attend the United We Stand summit at the White House and it was to address his base.
I just so happened to be able to shake President Joe Biden's hand when he was leaving the room, and I quickly, you know, “said please free our elder…You know Leonard Peltier? He's a member of this band of Chippewa Indians from North Dakota.”
So yeah, I just and that. That whole moment. Was wouldn't have been possible if my 19 year old daughter didn't encourage me to go, you know? Cuz she was like “mom you have to go and you have to talk to President Joe Biden about Leonard, you know.” So I continue to be amazed by like our younger generation because they see the clear injustices and they know it's wrong and they know we need to work and push for accountability and work for justice and tell our elder Leonard is free.
00:14:58 Tony Gonzales
Any closing words on the road to freedom for Leonard Peltier?
I know it's going to be on the agenda.
The American Indian movement celebrating the 50 year anniversary at Wounded Knee on February 27 and there'll be new strategies and campaigns being planned to continue seeking his freedom. But any choice of words.
00:15:17 Ruth Ann Buffalo
Just yes, thank you. Mods get out there. Just say you know, encourage everybody to do what you can from where you're at, whether it's sharing his website, whether it's sharing you know the number to the White House but also more importantly to like, hold them in prayer, you know to continue praying for Leonard because you know at the end of the day, you know he's the one that's in there suffering.
He's the one that's behind bars in pain, and so we have to never forget.
You know that he's the one that's in there suffering and we have to do everything we can to make sure that he walks out of there. And for you.
00:15:51 Tony Gonzales
Thank you Buffalo for your commitment and the time you took to apply to go and visit him and make the journey and being there on behalf of all of us who have, you know, continued [to do the work]
00:16:05 Ruth Ann Buffalo
00:16:05 Tony Gonzales
…Thank you very much.
All my relations, thank you once again for listening in to Ruth Ann Buffalo about her visit to Leonard Peltier, and also to know more about Leonard Peltier and his incarceration…And don't forget my relatives.
The two-spirit powwow Saturday, February the 4th at Fort Mason in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Pavilion From 10:00 AM to 6 PM, and For more information. Of events leading up to that that day go to the Bay Area. American Indian 2 Spirit Organization at baaits.org alright. My relatives said that's it, we'll see you once again across Indian land.