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Round Valley Marks Third Anniversary of Shooting Deaths

by Nicholas Wilson

Bear Lincoln Index

Twilight ceremony held at the spot where Acorn Peters was killed by deputies
Marking the anniversary of Leonard "Acorn" Peters' death, Bear Lincoln spoke at a twilight ceremony held at the spot where his friend was killed by sheriff's deputies on Good Friday, 1995. It was Lincoln's first opportunity to participate because he had been in Mendocino County Jail during previous anniversary ceremonies; last September, he was acquitted of murdering sheriff's deputy Bob Davis, who also died that fatal night.

Some 60 people took part in a candlelight ceremony, which proceeded up deeply rutted Little Valley Road toward the shooting site at the crest of a ridge. At the head of the procession moving from the Round Valley Indian Reservation was Roger Peters, teenage son of the slain man.

Roger led a traditional Native American drum circle in a sacred ceremony at the exact spot where his father was shot down. In a bullet- scarred scrub oak tree was placed a walking staff festooned with colored ribbons, and at the tree's base, a lone eagle feather and abalone shell holding sage incense were offered. Next to this tree remained the stump of another tree cut down and removed by deputies -- but never accounted for or presented in evidence at Lincoln's murder trial.

Roger Peters then placed a commemorative plaque on a stone monument being built to mark the site of "the tragic events of April 14, 1995." Participants placed candles and green ribbons on the monument, along with an adjacent white cross surrounded by blooming yellow daffodils.

"They laid in wait and shot the first Indian that walked down the road"
Among a half-dozen people speaking to the assembly in memory of Acorn Peters was Bear Lincoln, who said, "Thank you all for being here. Acorn was a good friend of mine, one of my best friends. He was a person I shared many good conversations and good feelings with. Our brother was murdered by the sheriff's department. They laid in wait right here, at this site, and they shot the first Indian that walked down the road, which happened to be Acorn.

"We can't forget his death, and we can't just walk away from it and not feel it. If we do, I'm afraid that it will happen again to one of us here. We need to be strong, we need to come together. His death was almost like a sacrifice, because so many things happened after that. All of us here right now have been brought together, and brought closer together. We are stronger, and we must get stronger, because we have to fight corrupt law enforcement.

"They came up here and they got away with murder. They called me the cowardly killer, but I say that they were the cowardly killers. The jury in the trial believed my version of what happened. I'm really happy for that. It's a time of victory right now, a time for us to feel some happiness.

"I feel sorrow because my brother is gone, but I feel we'll see him again one day. But I know it would have touched his heart to see everybody here to support him. I encourage all of us to work together and to come closer together as a community and see justice done. We need to get stronger and wiser, and not forget that our brother Acorn was murdered," Lincoln concluded.

The majority of participants were reservation residents, but they were joined by a number of supporters and family members who had driven many hours to be there, including Lincoln's Ukiah attorney Phil DeJong, defense investigator Samantha Burkey, and Lincoln jury foreman Eileen Urich.

The hilltop ceremony was preceded by a potluck dinner gathering and music by the Black Horse Blues Band at a reservation meeting room. It was a beautiful sunny spring day, with blue and white lupine blossoms and bright orange California poppies punctuating the verdant valley floor, all backed with a vista of snowy mountains.

Many of the visitors took a short drive to see Bear Lincoln feed his Appaloosa horses, a small herd that began with a yearling stallion and three mares shortly before the tragic shootings. The mares all foaled recently, increasing the herd by three little fillies. Lincoln says his plan is to provide horses and teach ridership to reservation youths as one way of offering them an alternative to alcohol and drug involvement.

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Albion Monitor April 22, 1998 (

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