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earlier race should have a long time along forces get forces get to know what our chance so we're just i don't know that a long lulling down down falling down down society of how economies more citizen goes all political families leaving us that is trading today we gave we were promised land good to see you boise being exercised the american public along the insanity of the
leaders don't make decisions that really are not in the best interest of the public in the best interest of the children of the public in the best interest of the grandchildren of the public they're not in the best interest of the earth around the best interest of anyone else to that longtime without it being introduced to the interviews too late was because he's deceased hero amongst tree there was another place
you can still physically sees it was in the moments in my job is to keep peace with the key piece for my people to make this alliance crazy horse carriage at one of their members not so obvious now live in almost nonexistent in the perception in reality a society that we're in it's almost nonexistent in that religion and a civilization not for the politics the adult education and also teach
realtors use it is it's not civilized has been the most respected has been literally the most blood thirsty brutalizing system ever imposed on this planet that is not civilization that's the great law is that it represents civilization that's the great la or if it does that
civilization and that's truly what civilization is that great line is that civilization is good was the conversations i have to get it's closer in their insights and they were excited i would imagine that was not too dissimilar from what some people feel that the dalai lama job was way ahead of the game he says it's likely this is where the country's going to be on this issue and this is what the effects are going to be and he's been right from the time and that time i thought that he had run most engaging minds of anybody i've met is very charismatic very focused on heat now with john there was no middle ground john speaks and the settlers simultaneously reaching out those are reaching across generations and reaching across racial divides to say we're both in the same situation that we have in us we
have a genetic memory and then that genetic memory there's knowledge is knowledge and that genetic memory either goes back to the ancient to the beginning for us and in this genetic memory there was a time when we were all tribes every human being lived within a tribe every human being recognizes reality that the earth was the mother and the sun and the sky was the father father's crime mother earth recognize that narco tell it as human beings by our relationship was to ban the bomb was born in omaha nebraska districts into the reservation for listening in on my mom's side was mixing country and during the mexican revolution
just a few years ago and then when i was six years will you remember seeing my dad he took me see my mom and i remember she gave the grapes grapes she just didn't understand what it had been in some kind of way the equation in custody you got a line on that i would like to go you would like people there are some things we need to straighten out it's about the twenty three ornate the man
why me and all the evidence they say it's god's will and i don't mean to me because you know it is the only open from the weight and we know you and we were being deceived and it is time for you to decide what life is really all you remember when i was in high school i don't mean in the principal's office and they told me i had a lot of potential but that i needed to learn how to study art and make something nice so and that's when i quit school because i realized that we were operating on the same level of reality as you see i knew that i already was something i walked out of the principal's office and schoolhouse door that day the next door walked into
was in the recruiting office sixteen points but it you know the only reason i want to do for the military was i needed to get away from where was that it wasn't about politics patriotism anything else was about survival i was stationed on a destroyer headed to west that post vietnam and it turns out i made the right choice because the vietnamese didn't have an a i was long pointed out of long beach and it was during this time that i met my first wife betsy we got married in sixty eight women and seventeen at the time and i was working and he was going to schools hundred and eleven college and alcatraz happened in november and i
remember he said i'm going to alcatraz although i don't think the land called the fox for more than six months a band of american indians has been living without government approval on alcatraz island the rock that used to be a federal penitentiary and all attempts to get them this is radio three of the yemeni government has been practicing hosni it really just piling up the light but that i had nowhere to the living on a typical indian reservation all lionel are less three
dimensional human service property young indian nationalists writing an olive tree right to run the federal property descended on the island one year ago today and they don't want to change the relationship has been a lot more interest in a peaceful protest we occupied the island in the name of the eighteen sixty eight fort laramie treaty c n and the reality that option that treaties or was so was really about walt it was really about a legal issue not a moral or an ethical issue with the government's responsibilities when alcatraz meant was that meant for the first time we saw young native people are standing up and saying we have rights we have rights to the land where rights to our own government
and out and we want to be listened to and we will be heard i owe approximately a month before we were removed in and why the removal was june eleventh nineteen seventy one says some time in may the government calls together for negotiations and said that they add a new proposal they would release us half of the art and we can have jobs job taking it would give us two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and we don't know because it was it wasn't about that we wanted them to legally recognize their responsibilities to the native community which we were represented we were the insurgents and the opposition
in place for this monday morning that's right today allen richard oak's out of all the leaders that came and went to the archivist of the protests were able to articulate our feelings and given name to what we felt in the name was independence and sovereignty and freedom and write or land mines so as kind of some of those things into
meal since nineteen sixty nine the police he's been saying years ago
in effect i'm a habitat poems is called living in reality songs co wrote and then i had an opportunity to record a set where i put the portrait with traditional tribal songs beyond industrial he said maps so experience slippers
first was aware of john through to political activism and then subsequently became aware that there was an additional part of china's support artist spokesperson spiritualist and the eye i think the connection i had very strong identification john's willingness to commit his life to a cause of the civilians would require some sacrifice because i was so taken by the fact that the us government would try to dismantle and decimated culture bye bye bye for stripping them of their spirit we want what we want it's possible
the native consciousness was waking up their native spirit was white starting to fire a gun made a transition from alcatraz to being involved very directly and very visibly an american indian movement aim was really about community right it was about the way of the tribe y'all i mean and ad and you know again it was about a legal issue because from the political end a statement was same as invisible clubs alcatraz you have a legal responsibility treaties or was it by the constitution girls but when i look at american are wrong that the treaty the second generation they don't look at the treaty is an inability to say that wasn't an agreement made between their ancestors and my ancestors i want to break the treaty like at their county have no more spiritual connection to their past your respect for the past and we wanted it not to the realities of checking legislation passed unless congress and
agency such as the federal investigation in these energy mobilization boards will find out that they now have all the rights individuals or losing their rights and far it's also one that was being waged against us do you read a year he went from the fifteen minutes that simply because he was able to mobilize people motivate people inspire people and get them to follow him for five hundred years we've had to fight and resist and struggle against the oppressor who was calm they call this indians and said that we didn't have any rights because indians and said that we were no longer people they call this indians and they used their manifest destiny mentality to justify the genocide against us in the nineteen sixties the fbi launched what it called a
quintuple program counterintelligence program essentially it was a program within the fbi to infiltrate the civil rights movement and to destroy it from within and from without injury late sixties very early seventies when activists within the gaming community started vocalizing needs their situation with regard to deprivations human civil rights the fbi shifted or use the same basic tactics to go after me so a group of american indians have banded together to march on the nation's capital where repressive some longstanding grievances but the president refused to see them or is a lot of second so today they took their caravan of the bureau of indian river affairs abcs bill mccabe reports they came from as far away as a pacific northwest and as nearby as north carolina american indians from two
hundred fifty dry became of the capital as the trail of broken treaties her to reclaim their land center rivers and most of all we occupied the national headquarters of the bee it was a big embarrassment to learn about nixon in ehrlichman and haldeman and john mitchell and if people remember his true world is and after prof and bush and wolfowitz and talking about these same mentality but we occupy that building had a full week and the governor was in a bind see that they would push to pretty far but we were pushing it again about the way the bee i was treating the people in the communities we had a twenty point position paper that we were presented to what were preventing the garment about ways that they can make an impact the tree loss
thank you in february nineteen seventy three aim at the traditional people upon which occupied the village of me taking a stand for the legal rights of the local people under the formerly treated lawbreaking sixty eight a standoff continues at wounded knee south dakota two hundred indian still occupy that small community and federal marshals still surround them there were no incidents no shooting today fortunately but there has been a lot of talking and a tv talking between the indians and government lawyers are trying to find a way to end the impasse peacefully to legally sound because it shut down the momentum again the fbi have noted that one of the things that the more shifting its
direction towards was protecting the earth at the same time some twenty seven multi national corporations are coming into this region uranium oil and other mineral companies and basically the singer in staking claims that entire black hills region during the same time period that occurred at one almost a different positions in the country and they began discussing the need for parable two assaults on what they considered the street main stronghold pine ridge the capital of the reservation is about ten miles from wounded knee but it's expensive the small community which has been held by the militant indians for six days now join the things that the american government realized that they saw the city and alcatraz in and they saw that it that it was really more pervasive because i saw the game and that is that the majority of american citizens agreed with us right they had they felt some kind of sympathy or understanding majority agreed with us
ryan that the government was in the wrong in his dealings and treatment of native peoples so so into the government the way the government operates anytime any grassroots or any anytime any group of people start to get popular support this becomes a threat to the government in that label by this useless subcommittee on american affairs as a terrorist organization it between his seventy three and seventy five the governor with the fbi they're waiting they were they were littered literally waging a contra war against now all of the eight people officials the ones with subordinate they were trying to eliminate the sport but fifteen to nineteen seventy five through fbi work your refineries in iran the community that they launched their attack in was a community will go all in the course of the firefight that took place that day one of our people jaws of stunts was killed and two members of the federal bureau of investigation or killed and as a result of your three men stood tall for a deal but probably go through then that's when they kind of put the finishing touches on the momentum
that came here where there are a lot of a firefight in afterwards with unrest that you know he was only one they came forward came in the argentine of came to our defense no organized and when we got to town judges ought to our turn on the news and all the news and he's in the local stations we're really talking about you know though that the terrorist attacks that day militants were coming over to be disruptive in the devil out of the i need to have a lot more security in that they have created is paranoid climate see all on me he was terry was almost like you know like the government was writing they also we were not like in that town to enter in a press conference and the timing right when challenged the modern era women and kids and in that with every church group that met with every women's organization every community organization met just explain look we're just here we don't wanna be noisier widow of the year we just want the opportunity and basically
through that kind of networking and then the reality that all of these fees are indians they're human beings set reality was emerging in cedar rapids and has jury got to see you know because we had a positive influence in a community that enemy and when push came to show on the jury deciding on guilt or innocence has played a role it's b it's both
from the national indian youth council a menorah immutable dr joel period of time that an activist group climate movement i think that the lasting effect was it made the spirit of the people who is it it's the keys to some early on it was really a struggle of the women having a voice you know within the american indian movement and in john was there for
over six years india you're good at and then around the end of seven worn off by seventy two league team and i work a lot of oklahoma whether she was always very sensitive and very concerned about people and during the time she was at towson university and she met jon judah aka looses they're doing is he's speaking to her something she was just taken by what john was doing and fell in love with him she was really intelligent person she got into those people again right there and we and i think in many ways we complemented each other very well brian at an art and his bible are being who she is she gave me credibility in the world so that would normally go on a mall dies her
major in college or psychology does almost like she knew she was intimately familiar iran or self defense and then tina had a she told me that she would stay with me on the road for no more than two years and she wanted to go home because home was where for her there's a word you'd be done away with the old ones see singing how special they were actually make it a point to go and visit them and hear what they had to share this was one of those people who took time to go and visit
with her humble way and gentleness they wear these beads but in six weeks lois curtis
that's not healed jonathan time wasn't and now doing his thing on the national ave had issued local you know is still there was still a hot time was focused a lot time things are secretive and andy and people looking over their shoulders are or john live fourteen live the sellers be encased in a lot of people senators since my own time and i'm checking them out and they were always been watched what we were doing in the valley on her reservation so it was it was it seriously was a major thing for the system at that time because we really the tribe five was taken jurisdiction without asking for permission the tribe wasn't acting like a tribal governments solvent and i had been conflicts with the federal government because of this no deal was a target because that's what the teen opposed to them rhyme is that she was from there she was born there she grew up there they knew more they trusted
her she was well educated and she understood their system for anyone to think that what happened to her hand to her specifically something just related to me it minimizes our loyal is over the road the american flag and protests of the way that the american government treats the indigenous indian people in the united states of america then the american flag as a protest against the injustice and that's being extended against women we've done the american flag because it has been decimating and it's the only proper way to dispose of the american flag after this repeal of racism sexism and less separation that these were desecrations
we feel that the american flag does not represent integrity justice and truth what is going on about two o'clock in the morning my dad came over to the pounding on the backbone of you standing there and one stretches his eyes were just sort of gray it seemed an instant amazon need to say there's a fire houses burning in their own those of those line of fire across from a distant houses maybe this episode at porsche to that way in the fire the family was trapped in the house band hot tuna and have children were killed in the fire and so is her mother who were who do we you
it's been cruz at the time she died in june they had chosen in josiah hot for that baby kai the stars and try to do it i had to die in order to get through it and if i can get through it and maybe how to live again
korean unity i was listening to the voices of light chanting in unison carry on the struggle generation surged to getting resistance to meet the reality of power mother embraces her children a natural beauty last view oppressors who don't like loads into a real connections to disney hall resisted struggle has not sacrificed loss is natural energy properly used remember that people remember sky and remember the people have always struggled to live in or many indies so
i always remember do not be afraid of thrones respect discipline share your life so the people may live on the sky and earth honor yourself on your relationships remember impatient want the gentlest of time on the six months after the forum easily took care of me after the fire and i was really desperate it only thing getting a reality works here we were there in canada driving around and i was feeling really bad was very overcast outside and these lines came into something called me right down to not stop writing and start read my lines called homes when rally their lines that were given to me to hang onto these
women and long lines and i know that to me that this is something that you gave to me as a parting gift and somewhere in that he's in small mr farr with his writing whatever the madness whatever the stream i had to follow the writing finance and a consequence this woman this love of his life we bear to live in a society afraid of what people might seek ways he threw themselves or somebody else might see what isn't meant to last time i saw her smile and so
and so it's a lot but it was a living example of the line or one of my songs about reviewers and frieden says that another word for nothing left to lose he had very little family and that i think made him fearless so when i come to canada asking for political asylum i come to canada understanding that my request for political asylum that people are coming with me that our request for political asylum is not just an illusion very antsy it's an idea it's not just an attempt to embarrass the american government
are request for political science built upon the reality that america's still conducting its genocidal war against the indian people our request for political asylum is based on the reality that you cannot embarrass the american government you cannot embarrass something has built and based on greed by lots of corruption it cannot be done we've never really seen the warhol way i mean if you're dying if you're dying from the senate galleries ballots are dying from india's poverty and racism class systems in such systems i end it did die from alcoholism and poverty eye or someone has come in on intimate maximizing profit and again you worked in the mines he reminds you died from lung cancer and die from cancers and diseases come out of that you're dying to say was that they were killing us that's i see it all as a war you like that a lot of people talk about the theoretical nuclear war whatever comes your perspective on that a little bit and say well the new two wars here that's had
that did not really reminds he's a victim of that role thats happened still lives are they came out three mile island that took the miscarriages and still lives on climate for the radioactive he's reached into the war the nuclear war that is being waged against the people on the western hemisphere has not just happened and occur after the uranium has been made into plutonium it occurs and it begins the date itself one of the corporate terrorists decide well we're going to take the uranium from these indians over here and then in order to get the land to get the uranium from under our land in order to maximize their profit at the same time while they're doing this they use their law enforcement agencies such as the fbi they use them as a private standing army for the corporate state in the fbi comes into our communities and they attacked us what were calling us criminals and then after they have broken down and it put our people into the prisons and they have killed our most vocal people and i have driven our people underground well it used to taxpayers while a corporate state use the
taxpayers' dollars to send its private army to attack us then when the resistance as beaten down enough in the corporate state comes in and makes deals with the federal government and they walk away with all the resources at a very cheap price because their entire war against us was waged and subsidized by the american people under the name on order so they get it for nothing and then they turn around and sell about the american people as the principle behind maximizing the problem is the principle behind colonization i met john for the first time when we're doing a couple of gigs around the nuclear issue mount taylor and grants new mexico i was the first date and we were dealing with an uranium mining a native american lands on jun really focused it for a large audience and that by combining with the no nukes movement i think he brought a connection in the audience in in the press and ended in in people's consciousness that was so powerful and i don't think that we've ever had been the same and they have the current
artistic voice that mixes politics in fantastic poetry this makes him very very unique and very important and i think he stands alone as being the most effective new american activists we have today i have to ask you this since it's columbus day does that mean anything to you as a person because i mean no disrespect to england i think asking if people are still celebrate columbus these kind of like asking the american people to celebrate osama bin one day and i actually think that terrorism arrived on this hemisphere with condoms because for us as native people the experience that we have just been out of my land become somebody else's country they're not homeless so let's start with this several problems about all this an easy to me is like a virus
disease he was like there's this predator energy on this point a disparate energy feeds upon the essence of the spirit feeds upon the essence of the human being the spirit the mining of the essence the mining of the spirit mining our minds the pollution from that is all the neurotic distorted and secure behavior patterns that we developed because in order for this predatory systems disease to work we must not be able to use our minds in a clear coherent manner as one of our philosophy age for socrates mixed reputation i think city writes and he's true to analyze the political system and its ambitions in with terms of the world that he really understands do is to have people like
you know some people know the field for a tune the reigns of purification gently flooding memories from my reason lavin shadows from yesterday we didn't watch the spirit continue to struggle to resist the one with the purification rains the words creations breath of a lot of reminders of power committed service for the earth a people oppressed by the insecurity for the technologic exporter the people the rain the earth the wind struggle together for a common liberty i've been doing a lot of reading lately about your transition from political activists to poet performer and i'm struck by how many really talented people have rallied around your musical roots bob dylan called you first
senator said davis the album of the year in rolling stone and it must be very affirming of your decision to put poetry to music recognition from these people are going to lead to long look at my work and know that it makes sense to them and communicating something to people about listen to to my life many of the people influenced me and have them acknowledge me an hour they've acknowledge that what that helped defeat me to keep going but we took the crews in a cynical media day a poetry reading in the north of oratory minneapolis mn have a tape of that so we didn't hear put the tape on news that narrowed in and yes sing the song during one of his whole thing in a slow
poison there he's a legitimate doing frozen people he was tired out november eighth to me and he sent me a plane ticket fly to minneapolis sign an airplane grab my drumming went over there are not guarantees who has written up above you a concert that was north of the tornado's path remember body goes back six times now i give is a half hours what does a rock'n'roll crouching and i think maybe it's just doing enough fifteen minutes listening to because of the buying apparel on the fall the early there and she liked that she liked it and in addition the korean number plates of projects and fluent in them a troubled voice the whole idea was to get civil war with
more natural indigenous sounds like the drumming on the chance to take these elements mixed them together and see what we could create that could be reproduced on tape are using the spoken word as he has its oversize for ice and water and eyelashes and fluttering are you mad
it's anybody's guess gale says there was a living in it but it will not make it is not financed destiny to destroy the earth that starts with what is immense destiny to do is destroy civilized man's ability to live with fear so we as human beings if we use that we take responsibility for allies where america's clear as we possibly can any way then we will have an impulse and to join his disease
does this earth will not allow the antibiotic will call planetary sense of unease open up your song let it let let it like a civilized man out in europe and europe will continue on maybe maybe we should do this planet and our descendents more than we should be to governing political systems that have great always falls seven and yet most people are trying to find solutions abroad what they're trying to do it within the confines of the combined actions of democracy as i think objectively about our responsibilities towards our own descendents and they will come up with no solutions are and error
and elmo yes there is and following the lines and following the lines whatever it is i do whatever uncle vanya where you know to see how long this really that's what it is i don't know they do not like to do and they're like to continue to write and do my music and do whatever it is i'm doing but in the end it comes that she gave me the winds to fall and as long as i'm here i will fall completely all those grants because a similar falling apart it doesn't go away time doesn't have that
distance is one thing that magic something else there is no magic fix others oh yes visit the independent lens web site to learn more about native american poet and activist john true they'll get inside look at independence failed inside indies and share your thoughts and talk about online at pbs dot org
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Producing Organization
Appaloosa Pictures
Contributing Organization
Vision Maker Media (Lincoln, Nebraska)
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Program Description
The engaging life story of Native American poet/prophet/activist John Trudell and his heartfelt message of active, personal responsibility to the earth, all of its inhabitants and our descendants. Trudell fuses his radical politics with music, writing and art. Combining images and archival footage with interviews and performances, this biography reveals the philosophy and motivations behind Trudell's work and his relationship to contemporary Indian history.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Performing Arts
Race and Ethnicity
Politics and Government
Copyright 2005 Appaloosa Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Media type
Moving Image
Interviewee: Mankiller, Wilma Pearl, 1945-2010
Interviewee: Raitt, Bonnie
Interviewee: Redford, Robert
Interviewee: Trudell, John
Producer: Rae, Heather
Producer: Katz, Elyse
Producing Organization: Appaloosa Pictures
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Vision Maker Media
Identifier: 2013-00678 (VMM Inventory #)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Master
Duration: 0:56:46
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Trudell,” 2005-00-00, Vision Maker Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022,
MLA: “Trudell.” 2005-00-00. Vision Maker Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <>.
APA: Trudell. Boston, MA: Vision Maker Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from