John Trudell


John Trudell

John Trudell, a middle-aged man with a beard and mustache, sits cross-legged in a wooden rocking chair in an empty field of brown grass, scattered cumulous clouds in the distance. He wears jeans and a black leather jacket over a black shirt, a brown skullcap over his long hair and black sunglasses. His arms are folded on his lap.
John Trudell at a press conference on Alcatraz
Photo: Michelle Vignes

A young John Trudell, sits at a desk covered with electronic equipment, including tape recorders and a mic, and speaks at a press conference in an office on Alcatraz. Two Caucasian reporters in jackets and ties stand listening and watching to Trudell’s left; three Native American men in casual clothes stand to his right.
Sign of the time: Alcatraz occupation
Photo: Michelle Vignes

Poet, musician, actor and activist, John Trudell is best known for his fearless confrontation of the harsh realities of Native American history and culture—first, as a leader of the American Indian Movement, and more recently, as an acclaimed musician and poet.

Trudell’s own struggles against economic and cultural deprivation—from his impoverished childhood on the Santee Sioux reservation in Nebraska to the strategic decimation of Native traditions—informed his passion for activism, as well as his spoken word and musical vision.

View a series of images tracing the path of John Trudell’s life, from his Nebraska childhood and his involvement with the American Indian Movement (AIM) to clashes with the government and the tragic events that inspired a prolific artistic career.

View John Trudell’s life: in pictures and prose >>

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