Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe urges President Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier

 David Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, has become the latest high-profile figure to urge President Obama to grant clemency for Native American activist Leonard Peltier who has been imprisoned for 40 years.

“You have appreciated, more than any other President in recent memory, the tumultuous history of Native Americans, and the tragic events derived from that history,” Archambault wrote to Obama.

Leonard Peltier is a former member of the American Indian Movement who was convicted of killing two FBI agents during a shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. Leonard Peltier has long maintained his innocence.

The shootout occurred two years after the American Indian Movement occupied the village of Wounded Knee for 71 days. The occupation of Wounded Knee is considered the beginning of what Oglala people refer to as the "Reign of Terror."

Human rights groups and advocates such as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have long called for the release of Peltier, who has been in maximum security prisons for 40 years. An official clemency appeal was sent to U.S. President Barack Obama by Peltier’s lawyers in February.

Obama has used his powers to pardon and commute the sentences of federal offenders far beyond what his recent predecessors have done. On Monday, Obama granted 78 pardons and 153 commutations. In total he’s made 148 pardons and 1,176 commutations.

His case has been featured on 60 Minutes, Front Line and other television and radio shows and was the subject of the Robert Redford film Incident at Oglala. The Peter Matthiessen book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse also detailed the story.

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