400 Market St.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
June 26, 1995
Dear Mr. Burke:
In Scott Andersons article regarding Leonard Peltier's case [The Martyrdom of Leonard Peltier], quotes were used from a News From Indian Country interview I conducted with Darelle (Dino) Butler. Some of these quotes were used as pullouts and were not presented in the correct context of the original interview. Other parts of the interview were summarized in a narrative style. The material excerpted from the interview was given emotional connotation based on the erroneous interpretive assumption of Mr. Anderson and presented an inaccurate picture of the intent and context of Mr. Butler's statements.
I would like to clearly and emphatically state that during our interview Mr. Butler in no way inferred that Leonard Peltier is personally responsible for his wrongful imprisonment. In fact, he stated,"Over the years Leonard became a prisoner of war. He is serving two life sentences for something that he didn't do. I know. I was there." In regard to who pulled the trigger and killed those agents, Mr. Butler also stated, "We have always maintained that those agents who were killed were caught in the crossfire."
In his reference to the meeting that occurred in California, Mr. Anderson presented a partial quote that in total was, "When this Mr. X thing first started happening we had a meeting in California. There were people there who were at Oglala that day. It was brought up about creating this lie about Mr. X being there and killing those men to raise support for Leonard's liberation. To create this lie to show that someone else pulled the trigger. The final agreement in that meeting was that the Mr. X idea wouldn't be used because it was a lie. We decided that because everything that we had done so far was always based on the truth, and that it was the truth that had liberated us in our trial, that when the truth finally came out that it would liberate Leonard and set him free. So it was decided that nobody would use this Mr. X theory and that it would be shelved." Mr. Anderson refers to the bitter taste in Mr. Butler's mouth when he spoke about the references to an alleged dynamite delivery described In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the fact the author did not verify his facts. Mr. Butler did not speak about this issue with bitterness or anger. He spoke about it with compassion for those who are victimized by the corrupt values system that dominates society and has such a negative impact on not only indigenous people, but all people. He, in fact, stated, "Peter Matthiessen was victimized by that too. Whatever made him do that separated him from seeking out the truth. That's the important thing to me, not who's telling the biggest lie."
I am distressed that information taken from Mr. Butler's interview was used in this manner, assigning negatively charged emotion to statements that were not made in anger, bitterness, or with any malicious intent.
I also apologize to Darelle (Dino) Butler and feel badly that his words from our interview were used in such a manner so as to infer that he would deliberately try to cause upheaval and confusion.
I take serious issue with the references to Mr. Butler leveling charges or administering massive blows to Leonard Peltier's case. These are emotionally laden phrases, instigating suspicion and an assumed intention to create more dissent. From my interview with Mr. Butler, there was no indication of this type of intention. He was making statements in response to interview questions, not leveling charges or administering massive blows to anyone.
In reference to Peltier's incarceration, a large part of the quote was omitted, which in actuality read, "I don't doubt that Leonard could be a free man, but it has to start within him. He has to believe in himself first instead of believing in all these lies and the people who are wanting to bring these lies to him. He has to believe in himself because he is the truth of what he represents in this world. He represents a lot to his people and to all our people. He represents the agreements between the United States government and the indigenous people of this land. And all the violations of the treaties between two sovereign nations. Like them being there that day (the U.S. government) and causing that fire fight and the aftermath of it on that reservation, terrorizing the people to get what they wanted, which was a conviction of Leonard."
Mr. Butler also stated, "They also wanted a conviction of me and Bob Robideau and fortunately we got to have a fair jury. I never have believed that we had a fair trial, because the only kind of fair trial we could have gotten from the U.S. government was no trial at all. We weren't guilty of anything. Enough of the truth was allowed to be presented in that courtroom by a fair judge that the jury would not convict us. Leonard wasn't given that recognition at his trial. He wasn't allowed to present any truth. The jury wasn't allowed to see or hear or feel the truth." To conclude the article with an inference that Mr. Butler's interview will jeopardize Leonard Peltier's chance of release is not accurate and assumes there is no evidence in this case other than the existence or nonexistence of Mr. X.
I would strongly recommend to your readers that they not be convinced that this article represents the contextual truth of Mr. Butler's interview. If they are truly interested in Mr. Butler's statements, I would recommend they contact News From Indian Country at Rt. 2; Box 2900A; Hayward, Wisconsin 54843 and obtain the original interview.