Archives: His 2001 talk in support of the U’wa of Columbia
A combination of poetry and thoughts about history, democracy, intelligence, responsibility and our common future.
The many remembrances that were written about John Trudell after his passing on December 8, 2015, showed the extraordinary width and depth of his engagement. Most know of his music and poetry, or of the films that he participated in. Not everybody knew that up to 1979 writing and performing was not even a thought or plan or dream of his.
In the ten years prior to 1979 Trudell had participated in the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island that began in 1969 . From 1973 to 1979, he served as national chairman of A.I.M., the American Indian Movement.
This ten year period of activism ended for Trudell on February 11,1979. He had led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. when approximately 12 hours later a fire “of suspicious origin” burned down Trudell’s home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada, killing his pregnant wife Tina, their three young children, and Tina’s mother.
All friends and observers of John Trudell agree that the murder of his family was the turning point in his life. Trudell said he withdrew from the world; and “writing words” became his way “to keep some sanity” and continue to survive.
But unlike others who – after such unspeakable loss – retired for the rest of their lives Trudell re-engaged and went public again: He was an early supporter of native Fishing Rights, he participated in the forest protection campaigns of the 1980s. He helped Tribes who resisted uranium mining on their lands. He spoke against nuclear war and was arrested at the site of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in 1981. He became an early voice for climate protection and against carbon pollution.
Trudell became one of the eloquent anti corporate critics of so-called western civilization. His extraordinary concept of how the combination of fossil fuels and technology created the most powerful corporate Industrial Reich – as he called it as a play on the Third Reich of Hitler – makes us realize today why the fight for climate protection and against fossil fuel use is so devastatingly difficult.
The talk you are about to hear was part of yet another engagement of his. John Trudell supported international campaigns against fossil fuel extraction on Indigenous lands. Here is the conclusion of his talk in support of the U’wa of Columbia whose fight against oil drilling continues to this day.