This weekend fathers across the U.S. will be celebrated, spending time with their loved ones and enjoying time with their children.
But for me, Father’s Day is an empty day.
My father is Leonard Peltier, a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). His name is synonymous with the struggle for Native rights and he has been behind bars for over 40 years—my whole life.
With my father’s health failing, it would mean everything to me if he’d get to spend a little of his life with me—even a week with him would be incredible.
In 1975, two FBI agents and a Native American person were killed during a confrontation between the FBI and AIM in South Dakota. My father was there that day but has always maintained his innocence.
Many people—including judges, prison guards and legal experts—have agreed that his trial was unfair and corrupt. They’ve called for mercy, leniency and freedom—but he remains in prison.
My father has become very sick and has an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The Federal Bureau of Prisons says it won’t take care of it until it gets even worse—but I’m afraid that it will be too late. His freedom would mean that he can get the help he actually needs.
He missed so much of my life, important moments like graduations, and I had to remember he wasn’t missing these moments because he wanted to—he had no choice.
My worst fear is that he will die in prison and I won’t have any real time with him.
Daughter of Leonard Peltier