From TUC Radio Archives
This is a moving, thought provoking spoken word and poetry address by the Native American musician and leader John Trudell. He did not set out to be a writer. His poetic gift developed out of the remarkable, sometimes unbearable circumstances of his life.
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 her served as national chairman of the American Indian Movement. The government response to A.I.M. was swift Trudell said, “They waged a war against us. They hunted us down. They killed, jailed, destroyed by any means necessary.”
In 1979 that war took a terrible personal toll on John Trudell. On February 11, 1979 he 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.
Trudell spoke in March 2001 in San Francisco at a benefit for the U’wa and their resistance to oil drilling on their ancestral land in Colombia – a struggle that continues till today.