Father Matt's article

excerpted from article by Matthew R. D. Regan, "Catholics and the Death Penalty," in Frontiers of Justice, Volume 1: The Death Penalty, edited by Claudia Whitman and Julie Zimmerman, Biddle Publishing Company, ISBN 1-879418-26-6 (1997)

"[...] Since the autumn of 1994, I have regularly visited a man on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison in California. We are now close friends, I have become convinced that he is entirely innocent of any crimes with which he was charged and found guilty. His name is N. I. Sequoyah. His background as a Native American is Cherokee. As far as I can determine, he is, in the purest sens of the term, a political prisoner. Growing up in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the city which became the headquarters of the Cherokee Nation after these Native Americans were forced by President Andrew Jackson to travel fromNorth Carolina and Georgia along what became known as the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, Sequoyah experienced not only the possibility - but the actuality - of prejudice. After having served honorably as a member of the United States Navy for ten years, he then continued as a non-violent activist, working for equal opportunities for all indigenous peoples. He even developed into a well-known and remarkably fluent Esperantist, having been attracted by the proven ability of the international Esperanto movement to foster unity and peace between and among nationalities and races by providing a neutral common bridge language. Consequent upon these activities of Sequoyah, he became suspect to the extent that, on international travels, he was frequently harassed at country border points at the behest of Intelligence interests of the United States. In 1984 and 1985, Sequoyah founded, in Switzerland, UNAP (United Nations of Autonomous Peoples). When he returned to the United States, Sequoyah was arrested in what was, apparently, a classic Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program) operation. He was saddled with many unsolved crimes. International agencies, working for justice for political prisoners, have taken up Sequoyahs cause. These include the Swiss section of Amnesty International2 and INCOMINDIOS (a Swiss-German acronym for the International Committee for the Indians of the Americas). INCOMINDIOS has proclaimed Sequoyah’s innocence and its support of him as a political prisoner. Such a proclamation has been made by the organization for only two Native Americans - Leonard Peltier and N. I. Sequoyah. [...] [Page 116]"

[...] Matthew R.D. Regan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Castries, Saint Lucia in theWest Indies, [was until his death in June 2003] a priest in residence at Saint Leanders Parish, San Leandro, California. Father Regan [was] a full-time preacher on behalf of Food For the Poor, an ecumenical, non-profit organization headquartered in Florida, which aids the desperately poor in the Caribbean area and Central America. He [was]a weekly visitor to Death Row at San Quentin State Prison. [...] [Page 121]


Note by fos•ters: The reference to the Swiss Section of Amnesty International is incorrect. N.I. Sequoyah’s case is supported by several organizations, e.g. the Bar [of England & Wales] Human Rights Committee, the Association for the Prevention of Torture etc., but the adoption by Amnesty International is still pending.