John Trudell


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photograph of John Trudell

John Trudell (born February 15, 1946 - died December 8, 2015) is an American author, poet, actor, musician, and former political activist. He was the spokesperson for the United Indians of All Tribes' takeover of Alcatraz beginning in 1969, broadcasting as Radio Free Alcatraz. During most of the 1970s, he served as the chairman of the American Indian Movement, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After his pregnant wife, three children and mother-in-law were killed in 1979 in a fire at the home of his parents-in-law on the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada, Trudell turned to writing, music and film as a second career. He acted in three films in the 1990s. The documentary Trudell (2005) was made about him and his life as an activist and artist.

Trudell was born in Omaha, Nebraska on February 15, 1946, as the son of a Santee Sioux father and a Mexican mother. He grew up in small towns near the Santee Sioux Reservation in northern Nebraska near the southeast corner of South Dakota. He was educated in local schools and also in Santee Sioux culture.

In 1979, Trudell met Jackson Browne and became interested in the musical world. Trudell recorded an album, A.K.A Graffiti Man, with the Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. It was first available only on cassette tape. In 1992 Trudell remade A.K.A Graffiti Man. In 1990, John Trudell took part in Tony Hymas Oyaté project.

His greatest success came with the 1994 album "Johnny Damas & Me" described as "a culmination of years of poetic work, and an example of a process of fusing traditional sounds, values, and sensibilities with thought-provoking lyrics, this time with urgent rock and roll."

More recent releases include Blue Indians (1999), Descendant Now Ancestor (2001), Bone Days (2001), Madness and Moremes (2007) and CRAZIER THAN HELL (2010).

One critic said of Trudell's live performances that: "This isn't simply pop rock with Indian drums and chants added. It's integrated rock and roll by an American Indian with a multicultural band directed to anyone who will listen. Read more about John Trudell on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

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