Rebroadcast with new introduction for the U’wa of Columbia
This is a moving, thought provoking spoken word and poetry address by the Native American leader and musician John Trudell. He spoke at a benefit for the U’wa in San Francisco. Memories of that benefit in March 2001 came rushing back in the summer of 2017 when Amazon Watch announced the good news: U’wa are returning to their ancestral land from which they had been expelled.
In July 2017, ten U’wa families packed up their belongings and returned to the hamlet known as Rio Negro. The region had been a salt mining site. If all goes according to plan, in the next six months another 50 or so families will resettle in the area. Amazon Watch is proudly supporting their return with funds for everyday necessities like soup pots, mosquito nets, and farming tools.
The families are reclaiming a part of their ancestral territory that the U’wa hope to incorporate into a new reservation, the Guanuwa Rauri-U’wa reservation. Territorial recovery, defense, and even legal recognition from the government are important for indigenous communities in Colombia and around the globe. They are all threatened by dirty energy projects, large-scale dams, roads, mining and deforestation.
This rebroadcast of one of TUC Radio’s most popular programs is both a shout-out to the U’wa and their journey home – and a tribute to John Trudell who spoke at the 2001 fundraiser for them.
Trudell grew up on and around the Santee Sioux reservation near Omaha, Nebraska. In 1969 he participated in the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz. From 1973 to 1979 he served as national chairman of the American Indian Movement. On February 11, 1979 Trudell led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. Approximately 12 hours later a fire “of suspicious origin” burned down Trudell’s home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada, killing his wife Tina, their three children, and Tina’s mother. Devastated by the loss of his family, Trudell withdrew from the world; “writing words” became his way “to keep some sanity” and continue to survive.