Sad to hear that John Trudell that acclaimed Native American poet, recording artist,vietnam vet, actor and activist whose international following reflects the universal language of his words, work and message has passed away from cancer aged only 69. Trudell (Santee Sioux) was the son of a Sastae Sioux father and Mexican Indian Mother. After leaving the military he gave his life to one of full time activism, becoming a spokesperson for the Indian Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971. He then worked with the American Indian Movement (AIM), serving as Chairman of AIM from 1973 - 1979. He was part of a group of Native American activists who occupied Alcatraz Island in 1969. In February of 1979, however, a fire of unknown origin killed his pregnant wife, his three children and mother-in law. It was through this horrible tragedy that Trudell began to find his voice as an artist and poet, writing, "to stay connected to this reality".
The filmaker Heather Rae spent more than a decade making a documentary about him, which was released in 2005 Trudell.
The intention was to demonstrate how his political and cultural activities were tied to contemporary history and inspired people.
A website dedicated to him can be found here.
Trudell himself used a powerful fusion of poetry and music to spread his message. A prolific poet who combined spoken word with music over 12 albums, and actor who starred in several films. Of himself he declares " I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human." His writings that started as therapy have become acts of war speaking out against injustice in humanity's name, through the experience of his community and that of his ancestors. He became a powerful champion of indigeneous rights and was part of a growing force for change. His voice empowering, inspirational and necessary.
John Trudell aged 25
"As human beings, we are given the power of intelligence. And, when we understand and respect that power by using it clearly and coherently as part of our thinking process, we will be able to create solutions to the problems that confront us individually and collectively."
- John Trudell, (Oct 12, 2008.)
Here was a man who felt and witnessed tragedy, who continued to act and think consciously, be a defiant thorn in the side of authority who refused to be shut up or let his independent voice be drowned out. It is people like him that for me makes me believe in humanity. With his soft spoken voice his words resonated, and echoed with wisdom, using words as weapons of survival. He also said when he was younger "he fought for a revolution that he believed would lead to freedom. " Well throughout his life he continued to do so, fighting against injustice, racism . he has burnt his nations flag, this dissenting troubadour waged his war, remained human, and free.
It is sad to have to say goodbye to this charismatic outspoken voice of passion and integrity.
So long brother, safe journey, humanity is strong because of voices like John's.
John Trudell : Documentary
A Conversation with John Trudell
John Trudell on Leonard Peltier
John Trudell - Crazy Horse
John Trudell - Cry Your tears.
Home page for John Trudell here
" No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense. "- John Trudell