Cecile Pineda
8 min readDec 2, 2018

It used to be that as I walked the streets of Oakland, or as I drove past gnarled stands of Monterey cypress in the countryside, I’d catch sight high in the canopy of plywood signs crudely lettered in red paint: “Free Leonard.” You had to be alert to find them, half hidden, high up the trees, and wonder who put them there, and how they managed to climb that high without getting caught. And you imagined them tacking such signs up in the wee hours of the night, when the streets are emptied of cops, and filled with homeless people sleeping under overpasses and in darkened doorways.

Leonard Peltier

Where he has been incarcerated by the government 43 years for his inconvenience to it, Leonard Peltier writes from jail “Another year and I am still writing you from a prison cell…alive and still breathing, hoping, wishing, praying not just for my pains, but for all native Nations and the People of the World who care and have positive feelings about what is happening to Mother Earth and against the evils committed by Wasi’chu in their greed for Her natural resources,” and at the same time (this past week) Ecologise re-publishes a 2017 article by Noam Chomsky saying that “indigenous people are our only hope for survival.” (It’s nearly unfathomable to imagine how any indigenous person reading those comments might feel about them: Now that you’ve decimated the soils, the water, the air, the forests, and the meadows, are you proposing to return the land that you have stolen and befouled so we can save you? Imagine what feelings that idea might evoke.)

Writing for Yes Magazine, Louise Dunlap, knowledgeable about the Indians of Northern California, describes how the catastrophic recent California fires would never have happened under the forest and fire management practices by the land’s original inhabitants, the Concow and Maidu people, who like many other tribes knew how to husband the Earth because they knew they were part of a system that plays no favorites.

Under the steady progress of climate change, many parts of the world — not just California are burning. But relying on Thanksgiving distractions to obscure its message, on Friday, the Administration released the 1,656-page climate assessment report, Volume II, in which 13 federal agencies present the most alarming warnings to date of climate change and its dire consequences. All 1,656 pages are entirely too overwhelming to process for those of us who will be impacted. Nothing has changed really from the government’s 2014 assessment either, because, well because … Well let’s just say… Aw, shucks, let’s just say that by 2050, half of San Francisco will be under water.

2050 San Francisco

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz writes “What White Supremacists Know: The violent theft of land and capital is at the core of the U.S. “experiment”: the U.S. military got its start in the wars against Native Americans.” That’s how she connects U.S. addiction to militarism and the presidency of #1, George Washington, who speculated on lands belonging to Native Americans, all the way up to #45, the apotheosis of the grim Realtor.

Not to be deterred from its death-dealing proclivities, the White House ordered troops to the Border to fire tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in warfare) on migrant women and children, some of them still in diapers, almost all of whom are indigenous people, asking — legally — for asylum, indigenous people whose caravan deliberately makes a statement that individuals are no longer hiding their attempts to escape death squads and assassinations as they attempt passage through a harsh desert landscape, seeking safety for themselves and their families, while The Center for Biological Diversity runs an article how the U.S. Navy has plans to grab more land for the Nevada bombing range, land about the size of Delaware, to drop more bombs on it. These are lands set aside as a wildlife refuge, lands originally ceded to the Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute native people which the Navy now proposes to steal and seal its fate planting bombs there instead of seeds.

Stillwater Wildlife Refuge

Here is message I wrote re: the FRTC Draft EIS on the government web site: “I oppose the Navy expansion of its bombing range to add the wildlife refuge at Fairview Peak area and the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge. I oppose it on ecological grounds. I oppose it on budgetary grounds. I oppose it because this is land ceded to the Western Shoshone and Paiute Peoples, and does not belong to the U.S. government to do with as it pleases. and I oppose it on the grounds of resisting climate change because as the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world, the U.S. military, must change its posture if the planet is to survive.”

History bats last. The country can never again bury the tiger burning bright, the Sioux struggle to save the waters from its fossil fuel exploiters at Standing Rock. The battle was pitched, it was genocidal, water hoses were turned on the water protectors in sub zero temperatures. The scenes of outright warfare there can never be erased, and despite overwhelming odds, native peoples and their allies made a statement: Idle No More.

But Pace Noam Chomsky, indigenous peoples will not save us. Not unless we join them, as the veterans did at Standing Rock. Because if we want to protect life on Earth, we are all Leonard Peltier now.

The only prison we’re in is our own deadly inertia.

A Polish Coal company, the EU’s largest producer of high-quality coal, becomes first sponsor of U.N. climate talks.

The essentials

Oppose the Navy’s land grab for an expanded bombing station at


Tell Congress: stop the Native American land grab in Utah at


The fringes

Demand Chase stop bankrolling fossil fuels at


Demand a green New Deal at


Add your name: sign the people’s demand for climate justice at


Contact your local school board or food bank to support backpack program fighting child food insecurity (otherwise known as hunger).

Tell the U.N.: send observers to the border at


Demand Congress stop funding Border Patrols’ human rights abuses at




Donate to fire-ravaged North Valley Mutual Aid at


Donate to help protect land rights Maasaii defenders at


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