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Sep-21-2010 02:00printcomments

American Indian Movement & John Trudell

On the 5-year anniversary of the death of John Trudell (February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015), we are again highlighting this article on the amazing Native American author, poet, actor, musician, and political activist:

John Trudell
John Trudell at Portland Hempstalk Festival, 9/2010.
Photos by Bonnie King, Salem-News.comm

(CLEVELAND) - Foreword by Editor, Tim King: Over the weekend of September 11th-12th, I was at the Hempstalk event in Portland, Oregon, where many great bands performed under beautiful skies. Among the big names at this year's event was the legendary John Trudell.

I hadn't seen John since a press conference in Las Vegas in 1998, when I was left with a profound message from this poet/recording artist, actor and activist; as well as Bonnie Rait, Jackson Brown and the Indigo Girls, about the importance of media remembering what it is really here for.

It really left an impression that I never lost sight of.

It was fantastic to hear his band last weekend, and then to see him at the Portland Airport Sunday as we both prepared to fly to our next location. But I was extremely surprised to see this latest poem from writer Luke Easter, about this same man, John Trudell, who has never let the plight of the Native American disappear from view.

His own history is amazing and tragic.

As his Website relates, John, an acclaimed poet, national recording artist, actor and activist- whose international following reflects the universal language of his words, work and message, (Santee Sioux) was a spokesperson for the Indian of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971.

After that he worked with the American Indian Movement (AIM), becoming Chairman of AIM from 1973 to 1979.

In February of 1979, a fire of unknown origin killed Trudell’s wife, three children and mother-in-law. It was through this horrific tragedy that Trudell began to find his voice as an artist and poet, writing, in his words, “to stay connected to this reality.”

In 1982, Trudell began recording his poetry to traditional Native music and in 1983 he released his debut album Tribal Voice on his own Peace Company label. Trudell then teamed up with the late legendary Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Together, they recorded three albums during the 1980’s.

The first of these, AKA Graffiti Man, was released in 1986 and dubbed the best album of the year by Bob Dylan. His 2002 CD, Bone Days, was executive produced by Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie and released on the Daemon Records label.

His latest double album, Madness & The Moremes, showcases more than five years of new music and includes special Ghost Tracks of old favorite Trudell tunes made with legendary Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Madness and The Moremes is available now on


American Indian Movement & John Trudell

Why oh why are there so many bitter, negative, hateful stories to tell?
Against those of American Indian decent like the one of John Trudell,
The, “American Indian Movement” is a terrorist threat by no means,
Still, like centuries before this country wants to squash their dreams.

February 1979, John led a march in D.C. about problems Indians face,
Less than 12 hours later @ Duck Valley, Nevada in his family’s place,
A mother-in-law, pregnant wife Tina and three kids alone in the house,
An arsonist with an accelerant flammable liquid the home was doused.

Do not be cowards and back stabbers, come right to my face, be legit,
Destroyed most of my ancestors, they did not and neither will I quit,
Bin Laden, those nations who harbor his kind, your enemies for real,
Just a share of what’s rightfully ours, we’re not here to cheat or steal.

As every single AIM against the US. Government has not prevailed,
By AIM’s continued incarceration once again the system has failed,
It’s locked up behind innuendo, bureaucracy, a system of mistrust,
Racism, reservations, resistance, deceitfulness, bunch of other stuff.

Whole idea of the movement is side by side we can peacefully survive,
And not through our innocent, helpless loved ones being burned alive.
Grandma Leah, Tina, Ricarda Star, Sunshine Karma, Eli Changing Sun,
Leah’s husband Arthur Manning barely made it 6 minus 5 only leaves 1.

The Blacks have marches, KKK rallies, gays and lesbians have protests,
Ok, so why the big deal, what is it they want? Everyone desires the best,
Jews, Germans, Italians & many other nationalities seek without fear,
Yet, the only nation looking over their shoulder are the tribes from here.

By Luke Easter


Luke Easter, writer, is a poet who writes about things that are very close to the heart of Another former U.S. Marine, Luke heals the world with an approach that reaches people on a different level, one known for centuries, yet too often forgotten in the one we live in.

We live in a world of social & economic injustice. The main reason for founding America in the first place was to relieve the oppression of the King of England. Patrick Henry said it best, “give me liberty or give me death.” And yet, all too often death seems to be the only way out.

Why is there such a high suicide rate especially among teens, in the land of the free & the home of the brave? What makes headlines? Good news? Ha! More depressing stories than anything else. I feel poetry takes an edge off the hurt of bad news while still delivering it but in a, “glitzy” sort of way. Giving a different perspective. Kind of like slap in the face as opposed to a knife in the back. At least with the slap you’ll live to see another day and you will know whom it’s from. I wasn’t here for the beginning of the world but at 59, I just might be here for the end.

Even though it’s still a knife, rhyme poetry helps to dull the blade. And that’s my job.

You can write to Luke Easter at:


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Luke Easter September 23, 2010 10:37 pm (Pacific time)

As we learned in grade school, Indian was the name Columbus mistakenly applied to the people he encountered when he arrived in what he believed was the "Indies," the medieval name for Asia. Introduced in the 1960s, the term Native American offered a way of eradicating confusion between the indigenous people of the Americas and the indigenous people of India. The term American Indian also served that purpose, but raised other problems: the use of Indian in any form had begun to be seen by some as pejorative.

Anonymous September 22, 2010 7:30 pm (Pacific time)

agree GP... not sure how long this article will stay up, but have a question if anyone is around to answer it. I grew up around American Indians, my dad was a missionary and I have been to so many reservations across the country I cant keep track. He would get these big tents and stuff. He did not try to change their ways, or indoctrinate, but he did "preach that love of Jesus thing" Seems he helped many people, but at the same time I sometimes wonder. I saw much good he did. In any case, I do have a heart for the American Indians, and I do know the history how the u.s gov. beat the heck out of them, and I am seeing the same with the palestine situation.. It will be me next, because I believe in things they dont like. The Constitution, Jesus, freedom.. I am next on their list. grrr.

J+ September 22, 2010 10:09 am (Pacific time)

The first step in ending societal racism is dropping the monikor 'Indian.' Native Americans are NOT from India.

gp September 21, 2010 6:47 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for this tribute to a great poet and peace maker. Now can you give us a good article on the crimes against Leonard Peltier and his amazing holiness in the face of it?

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.