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July 2nd, 2024
Grijalva Statement on Denial of Parole for Indigenous Activist Leonard Peltier

WASHINGTON – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on the U.S. Parole Commission’s decision to deny parole for renowned Native American activist Leonard Peltier on humanitarian grounds:

“The Commission had the opportunity to take a small step toward rectifying a decades-long injustice against Mr. Peltier, but incomprehensibly, they have opted against it. I extend my deepest condolences to him, his family, and his loved ones who are all being denied the peace and time together they deserve. As his health continues to wane, he should be in the care of his community, not the cruelty of confinement.

“Mr. Peltier’s story is not unlike that of so many of his Indigenous brothers and sisters, whose lives have been silenced, stolen, and suppressed throughout this country’s long history of atrocities against Native American people. I continue to stand with the many other global peace and civil rights leaders, justice advocates, and Native voices who urge President Biden to reject our country’s dark legacy and grant Mr. Peltier both clemency and a peaceful return home.”


In 1977, Leonard Peltier was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of two FBI agents who were killed during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms and has been imprisoned for nearly 50 years, currently in the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida.

Peltier’s conviction has been widely criticized for its unfairness. There is serious evidence that he was wrongfully convicted; key evidence was withheld, witnesses were coerced, and critical ballistics information was misrepresented.

Peltier was an active member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) prior to his arrest and remains engaged in activism. AIM is a grassroots movement founded in the late 1960s to organize activism around issues of systemic poverty, discrimination, and police brutality against American Indians. At the time, AIM was under deep scrutiny by the U.S. government. Ranking Member Grijalva led a bipartisan, bicameral 33-member letter in October 2023 calling on President Biden and the U.S. Department of Justice to grant clemency to Peltier, as well as in October 2021 and February 2022. Then-Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Grijalva also spoke on the phone with Peltier, who described harsh and often inhumane conditions in federal detention, enduring long periods in solitary confinement and major challenges obtaining adequate medical care for his declining health.

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