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Contemporary Issues/ Leonard Peltier

History 2: The student applies the methods of social science investigation to investigate, compare and contrast interpretations of historical events.

GRADE LEVEL: Secondary

BASIC CONCEPTS: Protection of civil & human rights; the right to due process

ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: Many Indian people consider Leonard Peltier a modern-day warrior. His story highlights many of the social issues concerning Native peoples today.

CULTURE AREA: Even though Leonard Peltier is Anishinabe-Lakota, born in North Dakota, and grew up on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, his story is relevant for investigating contemporary social issues.

TIME PERIOD: From June 26, 1975 to present.

BACKGROUND: This activity should be undertaken after historical orientation to the issues of Indian people have been studied. This investigation is timely, significant and relevant to students. Of the many resources suggested, students will most likely identify with the music and contemporary musicians that have performed songs about Leonard Peltier. The suggested readings and accompanying articles represent both sides in a fair and balanced manner.


Knowledge Students will: (History 2.1) investigate and research, (History 2.2) analyze historical information, and (History 2.3) synthesize information and reflect on findings

Skills Students will: Read the accompanying newspaper articles and short stories, listen to the music, and use the Internet to research this topic.

Values Students will: Determine components of a historical problem, investigate a topic using electronic technology, library resources, and human resources from the community, organize and record information, separate fact from conjecture; discern bias; separate relevant from irrelevant information in persuasive materials; distinguish verifiable information, evaluate information and develop a statement of the significance of their findings, defend their own analysis, reason logically, compare and contrast differing perspectives, & argue both for and against a position.

ACTIVITIES: Gather students and read accompanying articles and material on Leonard Peltier. If possible, play music or video recommendation to further elaborate on the issues. Discuss in classroom why these issues have a significance for Indian people. Assign a reasonable time (2 or 3 days is sufficient) for research of materials available. Depending upon time limitations, students should write an essay deciding on the relevant issues, historical implications, social factors involved, etc.

EXTENSIONS: Some students may wish to make this a longer investigative process, and would like to focus on a specific issue (human rights, due process, racism, political implications, issues of libel and book banning, etc.).

EVALUATION: Presentations of written work or oral reports on these issues will be controversial and work well for a debate topic. Students should be instructed and graded on the balance of the issues and must be reminded to look at all sides of these issues.


Web site: www.freepeltier.org

Accompanying articles from News from Indian Country.

Matthiessen, Peter. The Spirit of Crazy Horse. 1991. New York, N.Y./ Viking Penguin

Nabokov, Peter. Native American Testimony: A chronicle of Indian-White relations from prophecy to the present -1492-1992
"Birth of Aim" -Vernon Bellecourt p.372-376
"Confrontation or Negotiation" -Gerald Vizenor-p. 376-380

video of Rage Against The Machine

audio of Robbie Robertson

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