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Thursday, February 15, 2018

When You're 'Part of the People'

“It's always good to go home. It's strengthening to see your past and know you have someplace to go where you're part of a people.” – John Trudell

Trudell was born into the Dakota Santee nation on this date in 1946.  Author, poet, actor, musician, and political activist (who died in 2015), he spent most of his writing life combining his poetry and his love of music into hundreds of songs – many which spoke to and about nature; many using traditional Native American music.  

During his activist years as a spokesperson and leader for the American Indian Movement, Trudell once said that truth came from the arts.      “When one lives in a society where people can no longer rely on the institutions to tell them the truth,” he said,  “the truth must come from culture and art.”

A powerful book of his works, Lines From a Mined Mind: The Words of John Trudell shares some 25 years of his poetry, lyrics and essays, many shared and still available on YouTube.  Also a successful actor, Trudell performed in Pow Wow Highway, Thunderheart, On Deadly Ground, and the very funny and poignant Smoke Signals.  He also served as adviser to the award-winning documentary Incident at Oglala, a kind of companion piece to the fictional Thunderheart.  Directed by Robert Redford, Incident explores facts related to the 1975 shooting of two FBI agents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. 
A writer first, Trudell once noted, “Every song I've ever written starts with the words, because I want the music to be the musical extension of the feelings of the words, and not the words being the emotional extension of the feeling of the music.”

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