LEONARD: Political Prisoner

True Crime Podcasts

In 1977, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to consecutive life terms for killing two FBI agents. Then in 2000, a Freedom of Information Act disclosure proved the Feds had framed him. But Leonard's still in prison. This is the story of what happened on the Pine Ridge Reservation half a century ago—and the man who's still behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.


United States


In 1977, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to consecutive life terms for killing two FBI agents. Then in 2000, a Freedom of Information Act disclosure proved the Feds had framed him. But Leonard's still in prison. This is the story of what happened on the Pine Ridge Reservation half a century ago—and the man who's still behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.






Tipi Quest

Singer-songwriter Joe Troop details how he learned of Leonard’s story while living abroad in Argentina with his Grammy-nominated urban bluegrass band, Che Apalache. Hear Joe's new single “Free Leonard Peltier” that was released in support of the American Indian Movement’s Walk to Justice, which will culminate in Washington, DC, with rallies and musical performances calling for clemency for America’s longest-serving Indigenous political prisoner.


NDN Kars

Singer-songwriter Keith Secola expounds on Leonard’s life as a symbol for native rights and Indigenous sovereignty in an unplugged acoustic set, which includes an Anishinaabe flute blessing, the track “Innocent Man,” and a very special version of “NDN Kars,” the number one most requested song on tribal radio since 1992.


Big Burning Dumpster Fire

Journalist Jen Bendery has been reporting on Leonard Peltier’s case for the Huffington Post for the last two years. In this one-on-one interview we chat with Jen about the Biden administration’s strides for Native Americans, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) including the disappearance of Jancita Eagle Deer, and how a reporter’s routine request for a status update from the Office of the Pardon Attorney put her on the FBI’s radar.


What The Hell Just Happened

On the 46th anniversary of the Oglala shootout, we rally for clemency at the Black Voters Matter demonstration in Washington, DC, a few hundred yards from where a violent mob stormed the Capitol Building on January 6th. It’s a beautiful moment – until a white man in an American flag cape, Navy uniform and Michael Myers mask rushes the stage and wreaks havoc.


Son of June

We return to Pine Ridge to visit the grave of Joe Kills Right Stuntz, the murder site of Pedro Bissonette, and the June Little cabin on the Jumping Bull ranch with Chase Iron Eyes. Chase is an Oglala Lakota and currently serves as the co-director and lead counsel of the Lakota People's Law Project. But there’s something else you should know about Chase. His personal connection to the Oglala firefight and Leonard.



The FBI transferred Special Agents Jack Kohler and Ronald Williams to Pine Ridge to help with a backlog of cases despite neither having any training, experience, or special preparation for the civil war raging on the reservation. On June 25th, the day before the shootout, a colleague advised the pair not to return to the Jumping Bulls on their own, but the G-men ignored the warning with deadly results. In “Sacrificed” we examine the Bureau’s motivations and the beginnings of their ResMurs...


Good Indian Guides

In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1975, daylight was breaking on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation when Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, and Dino Butler discovered they’d been hiking in the wrong direction. Instead of finding themselves in Manderson, a nearby community home to numerous allies, they were in Pine Ridge village, the command center for the largest manhunt in American history. Hear how a handful of unsung local heroes risked it all to rescue the fugitives from the belly of...


The Great Escape

To avoid the tragic fate of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull who were killed after surrendering to the US government, AIM leader Dennis Banks was persuaded to leave Wounded Knee the night before the federal stand down on May 8th, 1973. The warrior selected to lead his escape party was Lenny Foster, a Diné Navajo who has since become Leonard Peltier’s spiritual adviser. Hear how Lenny was able to evade detection and smuggle Dennis Banks to safety with the help of the spirits.


Treaty Defender

Over the course of his tenure, President Trump issued 143 pardons, but he showed no mercy to Leonard Peltier. In this episode Leonard reacts to Trump’s snub; filmmaker Kevin McKiernan joins us for a conversation with Indian treaty expert Charles Wilkinson; and Carol Gokee from the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee shares important updates on Leonard’s case and medical condition.


Incident at Pacific Palisades

According to the documentary’s director, accomplished filmmaker Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Thunderheart, The World Is Not Enough), Robert Redford ruined “Incident at Oglala” out of fear of upsetting the powers that be. Although Redford was scarcely involved in the production of the documentary, he became heavily involved in its post-production, exercising his authority as executive producer to censor the final cut. When Mr. Apted objected to the omission of a vital section of...


Indigenous Resilience

Political prisoners are often forgotten because the government disappears them into the system. Leonard’s art draws attention back to his story, which is why some would rather silence him. In this bonus episode we speak with UCLA professor Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa, who explains why Leonard’s art is a powerful example of indigenous resilience, and Larry Hildes, the civil liberties attorney fighting for Leonard’s right to free speech. We also attend the second annual Indigenous Peoples Day...


I Ain’t No Young Man No More

The Bureau of Prisons makes it deliberately hard to interview federal inmates. In the case of political prisoners like Leonard Peltier, they make it even harder. But in this episode, we get around all their procedural barricades and finally speak with Leonard himself—about his health, his hopes, and his future. We also interview Kevin Sharp, the lawyer petitioning the Trump Administration to grant Leonard clemency. And we talk with two of Leonard’s close friends: Lenny Foster, Leonard’s...


Coincidental Witness

In June, 1975, reporter Kevin McKiernan traveled to South Dakota to cover the trial of AIM leader Dennis Banks who was standing trial for his role in the 1973 Custer Courthouse Riot. But as the hearing got underway on June 26, word spread that shots had been fired 100 miles away on the Pine Ridge Reservation between Federal agents and members of AIM. So McKiernan jumped in his truck and raced into the center of the firefight.


Treaties, Goons, and G-Men (Part 2)

Edgar Bear Runner, the newly elected President of the Porcupine District of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was just 25 on the morning of June 26, 1975. When shots rang out on the Jumping Bull ranch between the FBI and members of the American Indian Movement, Edgar visited a Lakota medicine man, said a prayer, and went in to help negotiate a truce. But he also had an ulterior motive: to help buy time for the AIMsters to escape.


Treaties, Goons, and G-Men (Part 1)

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation—full of gold, uranium, and oil—contains some of the most valuable land on the planet. But the Federal Government didn’t know that when they originally granted the territory to the Lakota in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. So for the next 100 years, the U.S. secretly took back the land piece by piece: ultimately with the help of Dick Wilson, the dictatorial Tribal Chairman of Pine Ridge, and his private militia, the GOON squad.


Mr. Bear Runner Goes to Rushmore

To commemorate July 4, 2020, President Trump is traveling to the Black Hills of South Dakota to give a speech in front of Mount Rushmore. But for the Lakota, the Black Hills are sacred. And the carvings of the four Presidents represent a desecration of their history and culture. As Edgar Bear Runner, a Lakota tribal historian, puts it: “Mount Rushmore is a shrine to racism. A shrine to genocide.”


June 26, 1975

On the morning of June 26, 1975, a firefight broke out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of the American Indian Movement. By noon, three people lay dead: AIM member Joe Stuntz, and special agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. But why was the FBI shooting at AIM activists on sovereign Lakota land in the first place?


Introducing LEONARD: Political Prisoner

Leonard Peltier has spent the last 44 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This is the story of how he ended up behind bars, and the people who’ve been working for decades to set him free.