Jean-Ann Day, who has just died, visited Dublin in January 2012 to help push an international campaign to free Leonard Peltier, also a warrior of the First People and longest-serving prisoner in the US after a travesty of a trial in 1977.
Due to a family tragedy hitting her contact here I had to step in as Jean-Ann’s contact but it was an honour for me. I progressed arrangements and took her to see Joan Collins TD and arranged for a radio interview with a program on Near FM.
I remember that on our way across the Liffey, Jean-Ann took a pinch of tobacco and offered it to the river with a prayer. The Gaels also thought of their rivers as divine, most of them goddesses. Although an atheist, to my thinking such belief systems seem greatly superior to those that think it fine to convert a river into a sewer or a toxic waste outlet.
On Saturday 4th February 2012 a small crowd of varied political backgrounds, including a significant proportion of independents, staged a protest outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge as part of a world-wide week of protests seeking Peltier’s release. Jean-Ann delivered a simple speech there that I believe reached into the heart of every one of the participants as it did into mine.
A small musical evening in Dublin organised by supporters was another occasion at which she appeared and I understood she went to Belfast and Derry too.
Jean-Ann, warrior for justice has walked on and left us her memory. Her former comrade, another warrior, Leonard Peltier, remains in jail in serious ill-health.
Peltier is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary of Coleman in Florida and given that he is 72 years of age and that his next scheduled parole hearing will be in July 2024, it is clear that the FBI and USA state want him leaving jail only in a coffin. Barring appeals, parole or presidential pardon, his projected release date is October 11, 2040.
Link to official obituary
Jean-Ann Day, Bear Clan of the Ho-Chunk Nation, age 65 of Stevens Point, Wisconsin walked on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at the University…
Leonard Peltier Regarding the Passing of Jean-Ann Day
When I heard the news of Jean’s passing I was both saddened and surprised. I did not know she was ill. If I had known I would have reached out to her and tried to support her in any way I could.
Jean was a true friend to me for all the years I knew her. Her passing reminds me of so many things back in those days at Oglala so long ago.
She was a such a bright light and a young woman full of courage who came to Oglala without hesitation to join us in protecting the elders there. And she did so much work to free me from prison all these years. I am grateful to her for that.
Over the years here I have thought of her often and in my dreams of freedom there were always a few faces I expected to see if I ever walked out of here. Jean’s was one of them.
I know she was doing wonderful work in the effort to bring healing and positive change to her Ho-Chunk people and I was always proud of her for that.
I regret that I could not be there for her ceremonies so I could offer comfort to her children and grandchildren, but I can only send these few heart-felt words.
You were a great woman and your life made a real difference to me… and to so many others.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. ‘Til I see you again.