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PELTIER, Leonard

Prison Writings: My life is My Sun Dance

I acknowledge my inadequacies as a spokesman. I acknowledge my many imperfections as a human being. And yet, as the Elders taught me, speaking out is my first duty, my first obligation to myself and to my people. To speak your mind and heart is Indian Way.

This book is not a plea or a justification. Neither is it an explanation or an apology for the events that overtook my life and many other lives in 1975 and made me unwittingly — and, yes, even unwillingly — a symbol, a focus for the sufferings of my people. But all of my people are suffering, so I'm in no way special in that regard.

You must understand.... I am ordinary. Painfully ordinary. This isn't modesty. This is fact. Maybe you're ordinary, too. If so, I honor your ordinariness, your humanness, your spirituality. I hope you will honor mine. That ordinariness is our bond, you and I. We are ordinary. We are human. The Creator made us this way. Imperfect. Inadequate. Ordinary.

Be thankful you weren't cursed with perfection. If you were perfect, there'd be nothing for you to achieve with your life. Imperfection is the source of every action. This is both our curse and our blessing as human beings. Our very imperfection makes a holy life possible.

We're not supposed to be perfect. We're supposed to be useful.