JOHN TRUDELL Biography - Musicians


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Name: John Trudell                                                                     
Born: 15 February 1946                                                                 
John Trudell (born February 15, 1946 in Omaha, Nebraska) is an American author,         
a poet, musician and a former political activist.                                       
Trudell is the son of a Santee Sioux father and a Mexican mother. He grew up           
around the Santee reservation near Omaha. He joined the Navy in 1963 and served         
in the Vietnam war. After getting out of the military he became involved in             
Indian activism and became the spokesperson for the Indians of All Tribes               
occupation of Alcatraz Island. He joined the American Indian Movement and,             
although not officially voted in, was its national Chairman from 1972 until 1979       
after Carter Camp went to jail. In 1979, his mother-in-law, pregnant wife (Tina         
Manning), and three children were killed in a tragic fire, an event that led him       
to his "hanging on lines", his spoken word. It is famously believed that his           
family was murdered by the government. A meeting with Jackson Browne in 1979           
introduced him to the musical world. His first album, originally made with             
brilliant (according to Bob Dylan) Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis and originally       
available only on cassette tape, was A.K.A Graffiti Man. In 1992 he remade A.K.A       
Graffiti Man; more recent endeavors include Blue Indians (1999) and Bone Days.         
Trudell has worked in a second career as an actor, with roles in Thunderheart (1992),   
On Deadly Ground (1995) and Smoke Signals (1998). One of his most significant           
contributions to film was in the production of Incident at Oglala, a documentary       
produced by Robert Redford back in the mid 1990s. The film traces and reveals           
facts surrounding the shootout on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation which left two         
FBI agents and one Indian man dead, and ultimately led to the arrest and               
sentencing of AIM activist Leonard Peltier. Trudell played a key role in keeping       
the movie true to both facts and events of the times.