Fawn Douglas, Free Leonard Peltier, Call for Clemency mural, Snow Mountain Paiute Reservation, 2015
Leonard Peltier has been a political prisoner for over 40 years and still has yet to receive justice. He continues to be held for being accused of the death of two FBI officers during protests at Wounded Knee during occupations by the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. In 1977 he was tried. My sister was born that year and asked me to paint a mural of Leonard Peltier on her old trailer in front of her house. The mural is located at the Snow Mountain Reservation, an extension of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. The mural has served the community and onlookers from outside the reservation, as a tool to learn about this individual. Who is Leonard Peltier? What is clemency? Why is this message in place in this space? Why should the viewer care? The art raises more questions and to think critically about the subject matter. The image of Leonard Peltier’s face is in slight profile, as he looks upward to the eagle in flight representing the freedom he longs for. The landscape is the Sheep Mountain Range in the distance and the colors of the surrounding desert which blends into the lands to give a hidden look to the trailer. The old dilapidated trailer is rusted, on flattened tires, boarded door, weeds and shrubbery taking over the outside of the structure. It is making something beautiful out of what Native peoples deal with everyday. Our history, our realities, and political struggles have also bloomed ideals of advocacy, self sufficiency, honoring, and resilience.