“I’m one step back from passing away.”
Native American political prisoner and activist Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for more than 40 years, denied pardons even despite his health deteriorating throughout his sentence.
Very recently, though, it seems his health is slipping and he is very much aware of it. In early September, he was transported to an outside hospital for what he called a “routine heart stress test”. The test results were alarming-3 clogged arteries. The doctors scrambled to operate immediately, ending in a triple bypass, which is major surgery for anyone let alone a 73-year-old prisoner.
In an email from the International Leonard Peltier Defense committee sent on Sep 2nd he gives us more insight into what happened:
“Good morning, everyone. OK. I know everyone did not know this, but it’s been a rough ride for me, BUT I’m one step back from passing away.
I was taken to an outside hospital in Leesburg, Fla., for what I was told was a routine heart stress test. And it turned out that they found clogged arteries, three of them! They decided to operate right away, and I just returned from triple-bypass heart surgery. My chest was opened and they took arteries from my legs and placed them in the blocked arteries. I had to be given a liter of blood. Now I am back at the prison and getting around in my wheelchair. They said this would help my shortness of breath and the pressure in my chest.”
The Great Grandfather and former member of AIM (the American Indian Movement) is currently serving time for the alleged murder of two FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Indigenous community was deeply saddened in January when President Obama denied him pardon for his charges, despite already serving 40+ years.
About Jazmyn Espinoza-Church
Jazmyn Espinoza-Church is a bestselling Native American Author, advocate for Native youth, and freelance journalist. When she’s not writing or mentoring she can be found in her Michigan home, hanging out with her fiance and two sons.