John Trudell

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John Trudell (1946- ) is a Native American (Santee Sioux) activist and spoken-word poet. His FBI file, at over 17,000 pages, was once among the biggest.

He took part in the. Occupation of Alcatraz (1969-1971), becoming the voice ofRadio Free Alcatraz


From 1973 to 1979, he was Chairman of the American Indian Movement (AIM). It was modelled in part on the Black Panthers – and was taken down in much the same way, through the FBI’s Cointelpro operation.


On February 11th 1979, he burned the US flag on the steps of the FBI building. That night, his pregnant wife, his three little children and his mother-in-law, back in Nevada, were burned to death in a house fire.


He fled to Canada, seeking political asylum. He turned to poetry, seeking to deal with his grief.


In the 1980s, as a spoken-word poet, he recorded three albums with Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Bob Dylan said that “AKA Graffiti Man” (1986) was the best album of the year.


Trudell’s picture of US history: After the battle for the land, came the battle for the spirit of the People.


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