Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Theological Studies (THST)

First Advisor

Tracy Tiemeier


Leonard Peltier, a Lakota Sioux and a member of the American Indian Movement, was accused of murdering two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he was residing in 1977. During his time at the Pine Ridge Reservation, he was attempting to decrease violence among its members due to political tensions. His conviction has remained questionable, and some even go so far as to call Peltier a political prisoner.[1] While in prison, he wrote a book called Prison Writings: My Life is my Sun Dance. In this book, Peltier describes his life before coming into prison as well as what his life is like in prison. He incorporates a balance of poetry and prose in order to express his pain, sacrifice, and strength. His spirituality is interwoven throughout his book, and he describes it as a source of solace and resistance. I will use Peltier’s Prison Writings to provide a venue to critique Christian liberation theology in comparison to American Indian liberation theology, will explore the ways in which Peltier’s Prison Writingsexemplifies American Indian liberation theology, and will discuss the suggested methods among American Indians to achieve liberation for their own community.

[1] Ramsey Clark, “Preface,” in Prison Writings: My Life is my Sun Dance, by Leonard Peltier (New York: Crazy Horse Spirit, 1999), xiii-xxi.