Album: Revolution (1989)

Songfacts®:

  • Leonard Peltier is a Native American activist. In 1977 he was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for first-degree murder in the shooting of two FBI agents during a 1975 conflict on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Numerous doubts have been raised over Peltier's guilt and the fairness of his trial, and many believe that he was framed. Little Steven has been standing up for the Native American's immediate release and he recorded this protest song in 1989. He told Mojo magazine in 2017:

    "Leonard Peltier is a very important song of mine, about the American Indian activist still in jail to the state. We've been trying to get him out of jail now for 38 years, the most outrageous miscarriage of justice ever."
  • Other instances where musicians have written songs inspired by Peltier's plight include:

    "Sacrifice" from Robbie Robertson's 1998 album Contact From the Underworld of Redboy. Robertson, who is part Native American himself, knows Peltier personally. Throughout the song there are voice recordings of Peltier speaking about his case surrounded with melody and vocals.

    The video for Rage Against The Machine's 1994 protest song "Freedom" shows footage of Peltier's case and ends with a picture of him in prison and the phrase "justice has not been done".

    U2's hit song "Vertigo" is a reworking of a tune, "Native Son" they wrote about a Native American who was against his country due to his lack of freedoms. The idea was originally inspired by Leonard Peltier.

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