Native American activist, Leonard Peltier, recently underwent surgery by a Maxillofacial expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. E.E. Keller performed a five hour surgery on Peltier who had been suffering for the last four years from a severe condition which caused his jaw to be frozen open 13 millimeters. X-rays taken on Monday, March 20 showed that Leonard Peltier suffered from ankylosis on both sides of his mandible, meaning that his jaw was completely frozen and immobile, according to Keller. Keller reported that the surgery went smoothly and Peltier’s jaw has been returned to normal. He said that Peltier is happy and recovering comfortably.

Leonard Peltier was suddenly transferred from Leaven-worth Federal Penitentiary to the Rochester Medical Facility on Monday, March 20. Neither Peltier nor his attorneys knew that the transfer would take place. Prison authorities have denied Peltier’s attorneys access to Peltier by phone or visit thus far. Until today, they were given no information by the Bureau of Prisons about Peltier’s current situation.

Peltier contracted tetanus as a child which caused him to have long lasting problems with his jaw. However, two surgeries performed at the Federal Springfield Medical Facility in 1996 far worsened his condition and resulted in ankylosis. During his stay at Springfield, Peltier was housed in “the hole” or solitary confinement to recover. Dr. Keller had written to the warden at Leavenworth in 1997, offering to treat Peltier but prison officials insisted he undergo a third surgery at Springfield instead. Peltier refused. Since then, members of Congress, United Nations officials, human rights organizations and hundreds of concerned supporters have been writing to prison officials to urge them to transfer Peltier to the Mayo Clinic. For a year prison officials have been responding to such requests by reporting Peltier’s condition to be “stable” and not “warranting” treatment. (Letters from prison officials available upon request.)

Leonard Peltier, considered by Amnesty International to be a political prisoner who should be immediately and unconditionally released, was convicted in 1977 for the murders of two FBI agents. After being faced with formerly withheld evidence on appeal casting serious doubt on Mr. Peltier’s guilt, the prosecution admitted that it could not prove who actually shot the agents or what participation Mr. Peltier may have had in their deaths. Peltier will be reviewed for parole on June 12, 2000.

Call the White House today Demand clemency for Leonard Peltier! 202-456-1111 Leonard Peltier Defense Committee PO Box 583 Lawrence, KS 66044 785-842-5774, Local info: 443-6120 or

“Doing time creates a demented darkness of my own imagination; doing time does this thing to you. But of course, you don’t do time. You do without it. Or rather, it does you. Time is a cannibal that devours the flesh of your years day by day, bite by bite.” Leonard Peltier from Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance

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