Life Changed Forever

From Native News Online, Leonard Peltier shares his Indian Boarding School story.

Editor’s Note: This first-person account from Leonard Peltier about his experiences at the Wahpeton Indian School from 1952 to 1955 was sent to Native News Online by one of his longtime advisers. Its authenticity was confirmed by Peltier’s attorney, Kevin Sharp.  

My name is Leonard Peltier and I am 77 years old. I am a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe. I am Anishanaabe and Dakota. I was taken to Wahpeton Indian School, an Indian boarding school, in Wahpeton, North Dakota when I was nine years old and did not leave until I was 12. This is my story.

When I lost my grandfather in 1952, life changed forever. He was a good and kind man and he was my mentor and knew how to live off the land. But then he got pneumonia and did not survive. I will never forget watching him die from the foot of his bed. Even now, that sad memory comes back to me as I lay in my bunk at night in a federal penitentiary.

About a year after my grandpa died, my grandma had to go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to beg for help for her and me, my sister Betty Ann and cousin Pauline. As it turned out, that made things much worse for us. Now, we had to worry about the BIA agents coming to take us away. I grew up with the stories. I was old enough to know what happened when the government took you away. I knew some children never came home. Click here to keep reading.