Wanbli Watakpe, a.k.a. Russell Redner, (pictured left) is first
and foremost a Tokala (traditional Lakota warrior, a
servant of the people) as in times of war he walks in front of the
people and in times of peace he walks behind the people. Old man
Max Blacksmith decribed him to the other Oglala Lakota elders as "he
is FOR the people". The calls for help in stopping a variety of
countless assaults on his people led this warrior to found the
Northern California Chapter of the American Indian Movement in 1969.
He was the squad leader of the California bunker during the Wounded
Knee siege of 1973. Together with Dennis Banks, Leonard Peltier, and
others, he faced the longest pre-trial case in U.S. history where
he personally challenged the "Justice" system. He helped found and
lead the first Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. As Chairman of the
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, he went to Moscow in 1988 invited
by the then U.S.S.R. to speak on the issue of human rights violations
by the United States. These are just a few of Wanbli Watakpe
contributions to the struggle for his people. He is never afraid
of a fight no matter how big the opponent and he continues to be
a servant of the people today.
Today, Wanbli Watakpe walks in front of the people and is helping to lead the campaign to Free the Carson 10. He has been there since the beginning when he stated "It's the idea that somebody can come into our community, round up a bunch of our children and take them to jail on flimsy hearsay information. That's not that far removed from World War II when they rounded up Jewish people just because they were Jewish. It was an indictment of the Indian community. That's racism and that's why AIM got involved."
Russell reminds us just how historic the criminal case against the Carson 10 is since there hasn't been such a large mass hanging of Native Americans since the largest U.S. mass hanging which occurred on December 26, 1862. This case resulted after Dakota Indians fought back against the encroaching and genocidal settlers who were stealing all of their lands. Initially approximately 1,200 Indians were arrested and 392 were brought to trial. They were found guilty and 307 were sentenced to death. In 1962, President Lincoln personally reviewed and okayed the mass hanging of 39 of these Indians in Mankato, Minnesota. General Sibley, who supervised the hangings, wrote to President Lincoln on December 27, 1862, "I have the honor to inform you that the thirty-eight Indians and half-breeds ordered by you for execution were hung yesterday in Mankato at 10 AM. Everything went off quietly and the other prisoners are well secured," and signed this respectfully, H.H. Sibley, Brigadier-General. Much of this history was taken from The Wapasha Dynasty webpage. Click on the quote to read more.
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