This is a moving, thought provoking spoken word and poetry address by the Native American musician and leader John Trudell. He did not set out to be a writer. His poetic gift developed out of the remarkable, sometimes unbearable circumstances of his life.
Trudell describes Columbus as one who did not know what a human being is, and tries to activate ancient memories of those who arrived with and after Columbus and their long submerged links to their own tribal ancestry that was erased by the inquisition. Respect and responsibility are the leading values Trudell refers to and he asks what the repercussions of the fears and doubts and insecurities are that we experience in today’s culture. He ends by recommending to use our intelligence the way the creator gave it to use: To keep the balance.
Trudell grew up on and around the Santee Sioux
reservation near Omaha, Nebraska. In 1969 he participated in the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz. From 1973 to 1979 her served as national chairman of the American Indian Movement. The government response to A.I.M. was swift Trudell said, “They waged a war against us. They hunted us down. They killed, jailed, destroyed by any means necessary.” In 1979 that war took a terrible personal toll on John Trudell. On February 11, 1979 he led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. Approximately 12 hours later a fire “of suspicious origin” burned down Trudell’s home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada, killing his wife Tina, their three children, and Tina’s mother. Devastated by the loss of his family, Trudell withdrew from the world; “writing words” became his way “to keep some sanity” and continue to survive.