Oregon Prison Program

This program is close to my heart as my father, Leonard Peltier, has now been in prison for over 40 years.  I have seen how difficult and how much prison has changed him.  One life-line for my father has been his Native American Religious Practices.  Because of this, I want to help other inmates maintain a life-line that will not only help them while incarcerated but also help them live their lives in a good way when they are released.  Peltier Justice's primary project/program was assisting in the development of consistent and regular Native American Religious Services in ALL Oregon prisons. 

I was told by DOC Chaplains that Native American Religious Services in Oregon were underfunded and short volunteers so I started helping.  I was even appointed to the Oregon Department of Corrections' Religious Services Advisory Committee.  I was a volunteer in five Oregon Prisons and a carded volunteer in three Oregon Prisons.  However, issues came up that have changed my focus with my Oregon Prison Program.   

In 2017, I started to become aware of problems with Red Lodge Transition Services.  Red Lodge holds themselves out to be Native American and the only organization providing services.  Red Lodge stated their need for a grant from Department of Corrections to me.  Their justification for this was that NO ONE would volunteer except their employees and volunteers.  Volunteers that I recruited or knew (who were not affiliated with Red Lodge) were telling me they were being harassed and discouraged from volunteering by Red Lodge.  I believed these volunteers as I was not only harassed but threatened by Trish Jordan and other associates of Red Lodge.  Because I feared for the safety of my family, I stopped volunteering for a time period.

Then after several months when I thought Red Lodge had let go of any issues they had with me, I started volunteering again.  Just when I had my per diem started again so I could travel to Eastern Oregon Prisons, Red Lodge attacked me again.  I went to TRCI, were Trish Jordan had a prison official escort me out of the prison into the parking lot where Trish Jordan, Eugene Sanchez and Leon Araize were waiting for me.  Representative Tawna Sanchez (Red Lodge Chair) was inside the Administration building.  I was told by Trish Jordan that I needed to leave and if I stayed, Trish Jordan and the other three from Red Lodge would take all the Pow Wow food and cancel the Pow Wow.  Then I would be forced to leave anyway.  I choose to leave so the men could have their Pow Wow.  As a result of the false statements and retaliation by Red Lodge, my volunteer status at the two Eastern Oregon prisons was suspended.  I have since found out that Red Lodge made false statements regarding several other volunteers within weeks of their attack on me.  I believe there could be dozens of volunteers over the last several years that Red Lodge has done this to.

Red Lodge does not appear to have the best interest of our Native American brothers and sisters at heart.  Red Lodge and the majority of their volunteers are not Native Americans - Enrolled Citizens of any Tribe.  Red Lodge appears to only be interested in the funds and grants they think their control will generate for them.  Again, Trish Jordan, Tawna Sanchez, Eugene Sanchez and Leon Araiza are not Native Americans.  It also appears that Red Lodge has put their organization between the Nine Oregon Tribes and DOC.  Federal and state laws require Government to Government communication with the Nine Oregon Tribes.  Red Lodge has also, repeatedly, violated our Federal Eagle Feather laws.

Due to these issues, I have redirected my focus to advocating for the Native American Religious Services being controlled by the Nine Oregon Tribes, DOC to follow government to government communication laws, and for DOC to restart the Native American Religious Advisory Committee with representatives from each of the Nine Oregon Tribes.  If DOC does not restart this committee, then I believe a representative from each Tribe should be serving on the regular Religious Service Advisory Committee.  As I was appointed to this committee by DOC and not the Nine Oregon Tribes, I have since resigned from this committee out of respect for the Nine Oregon Tribes and as a way to advocate for them regaining their legal rights regarding this program as required by law.

I am still looking for volunteers and funding to help with this advocacy - a DOC prison program that follows government to government laws, our Federal Eagle Feather law and where real Native Americans are allowed to participate free of harassment and threats by non-Natives.  I am also looking for assistance to provide legal services to the other volunteers who were improperly denied volunteer opportunities as a result of false complaints/statements made by Red Lodge. 

"I know you have been coming in for the Lakota club for a while, and I as I've been here 22 years, I may have seen you before, but I'm looking forward to actually meeting you. Earlier this month I finished a class through the University of Oregon on Prisoner Narratives. My final paper was on the strength of the human spirit and its will to survive. In the opening paragraph of that final I quoted your Dad and wrote the following, "Leonard Peltier in My Life Is My Sundance says, “…they don’t want you to get comfortable. Nor do they ever want you to have a sense of security” (7). Peltier is speaking about his time in Leavenworth federal prison for a crime he says he did not commit." My thesis was, " Prison is an isolating place, and yet prisoners find ways to create connections and their own communities while incarcerated, thus providing a feeling of inclusion rather than exclusion that they already feel from society." Your Dad's writing was helpful in my research and in my learning overall. I thought you might like knowing that your Dad is impacting people still to this day and perhaps in ways he never would have considered." - Ron Edgemon

Notes like this help me continue advocating for my dad, prisoners, Sovereign Nations and the People.

Past projects/programs:

Prisoner Art Work Rights - Washington State Civil Case

Native American Veterans

Ongoing and Current projects/programs:

Advocating for Leonard Peltier's Release

Oregon Prison Program

Any help or support would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Chauncey Peltier