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Remembering the Life and Legacy of John Trudell

Society & Culture  (tags: John Trudell, death, taken his journey, Trail of Broken Treaties, BIA, Santee Dakota, Indian Country, poet, activist, human rights, music, free thinker, visionary, greatness, sadness, Native American, American Indian, AIM )

- 1014 days ago -
It is with a heavy and sad heart that I am informing of the passing of one of our greatest voices that came out of Indian Country in our time. He was and always will be my inspiration and I hold him in deep respect. I can say no more the pain is deep.


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Animae C (506)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 5:30 am
Yes i heard, very saddened by this great man's passing.
i'm so glad we have recordings of his wisdom!
He was way too young to leave.....

Thanx Dande

Sheryl G (360)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 6:25 am
My head is still spinning how we lost two great minds on the same date Dec. 8th and both are John.

John Trudell Dec. 8, 2015
John Lennon Dec. 8, 1980

I had just placed a piece on honoring the 35 years that had passed since John Lennon had passed, heart in heavy place thinking upon him, when I find out John Trudell has also taken his journey.

Yes, John Trudell was still, to me, a man at 69 that could of offered us a lot of wisdom still to come, but I'm thankful he made it as many winters that he did given how he stuck his neck out for The People and for our Mother, the environment. We lost the other John, very early in his life as far as I'm concerned. Both voices in need, both voices still had much to offer us, and had they lived longer, and they could of, we could still use their wisdom.

Craig Pittman (52)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 7:32 am
So much good energy and potential too soon gone. Thanks for posting Dandelion.

Nancy C (806)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 10:30 am
Both of their wisdom lives on in our hearts. I, too, am grateful for both who bravely represent truth and hope. The FBI quote is a tell:
“He is extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous.”
Did not know about his family tragedy.
Walk on Mr Trudeau...and thank you.

Sheryl G (360)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 11:15 am
Today, Trudell’s family released the following statement:

“We know all the people who love John want to know about plans and how to pay their respects. John left clear instructions for his passage and for what he wanted to happen after he crossed over. He did not want a funeral or any kind of single gathering. He also did not want his family to write a standard style obituary or ‘toot his horn.’ He didn’t want to tell people how to remember him.

“His wishes are for people to celebrate life and love, pray and remember him in their own ways in their own communities.

“With love for all.”


Sheryl G (360)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 2:17 pm
I am Ectomy

I flew with the eagles
Until I fell from the nest
I ran with the wolves
then I got lost from the pack

Slowly I go crazy everyday
Some days run faster than others
I never strayed into heaven
It was hard getting past hell
I travelled through and beyond
The death and birth of man

I am ectomy

Imagine running out of imagine
Mistaking authority for power
Weaving life’s free spirit
Into patterns of control

I heard all that was said
Until now I hear nothing at all
The edge between twilight and dark
The great lie lurks
Prostitution of soul
Anyone can do it – or not
I went down some roads that stopped me dead in my tracks

I am ectomy

I’ve been the mirror to others’ reflecting selves
I’ve known love that can’t help but love
And I have been close to that hurting way of love

I flew with the eagles
Until I fell from the nest
I ran with the wolves
Then got lost from the pack

From the earth
Wind cave memories
One with the sky
Time of different motions
Dog days dreamer
Chasing the neon woven into minds

From my place in line
I fell out of order
I’ve been here, I’ve been there
I’ve been anywhere
And I haven’t been anywhere
And I’ll be back again

I am ectomy

This poem was written by John Trudell, a Native American civil rights activist. He wrote it after he lost his wife, his children, and mother in law to a house fire that was likely set on purpose; because he spoke truth.

Sheryl G (360)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 2:22 pm
excerpt from Star Ancestors.....John Trudell

"In the reality of many realities
How we see what we see
Affects the quality
Of our reality

We are
Children of earth and sky
DNA descendant and ancestor
Human being physical spirit
Bone flesh blood as spirit

We are
In time and space
But we're from beyond time and space
The past is part of the present
The future is part of the present
Life and being are interwoven
We are
DNA of earth, moon, planets, stars
We are related to the universal
Creator created creation
Spirit and intelligence with clarity
Being and human as power

We are
A part of the memories of evolution
These memories carry knowledge
These memories carry our identity
Beneath race, gender, class, age
Beneath citizen, business, state, religion

We are human being
And these memories are trying
To remind us
Human beings human beings
It is time to rise up
Remember who we are"

Monika A (94)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 4:32 pm
Birth is a beginning and death a destination , however this is so sad :-(
My prayers are with his family , may his soul soar like a bird - in peace and freedom.

M B (62)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 4:41 pm

TY Dandelion

Sheryl G (360)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 5:02 pm
"We are a spirit, we are a natural part of the earth, and all of our ancestors, all of our relations who have gone to the spirit world, they are here with us. That's power. They will help us. They will help us to see if we are willing to look. We are not separated from them because there's no place to go -- we stay here. This is our place: the earth. This is our mother: we will not go away from our mother.

"And no matter what they ever do to us, no matter how they ever strike at us, we must never become reactionary. The one thing that has always bothered me about revolution, every time I have seen the revolutionary, is they have reacted out of hatred for the oppressor. We must do this for the love of our people.

No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense." - Trudell

RosemaryRannes HusbandHospitalHome (650)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 5:25 pm
Dandelion i too grieve the loss of John Trudell whose earth walk shook our consciousness like the winds of a hurricane, with so much love & humility he shared his truth just as gently...
so much i could say... but i need to go pray for his welcoming into the Spirit World where all the Ancestors will embrace his homecoming in Spirit.
Thank you dear Dandelion for all your inspirational sharing over the years that brought John Trudell's voice and wisdom into our hearts and conscious awareness.
Mitakuye Oyasin

Mandi T (367)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 5:39 pm
Very sad indeed.

divergent revolution (309)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 6:27 pm
too much sadness
thank you Dandelion

Arlene C (30)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 6:34 pm
Merci Dandelion de me l'avoir fait connaître UN GRAND HOMME qui a laissé un immense héritage à son peuple et à nous. Merci encore

Walter F (129)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 6:52 pm
Thanks Sheryl,, their memories will be a blessing

Judy C (91)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 7:07 pm
I was surprised to see John Trudell walk on so soon. I actually didn't even know he was sick. He has left us a tremendous legacy. Thanks for posting some of his excellent writings, Dandelion. People need to hear what he has to say.

LaurenBackSoon Kozen (173)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 7:22 pm
So sad.
Noted & Shared. Thanks for posting Dandelion.

Rose Becke (141)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 8:10 pm
John will be missed

Laurie H (818)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 8:44 pm
I am so sorry to hear of his passing Sheryl and the world be missing him so very much. Will share and so appreciate your posting.~

Past Member (0)
Thursday December 10, 2015, 10:50 pm
TY Dandelion--the 2 Johns, RIP--2 of the brightest lights whirling back toward their source, yet still radiating all around this planet.

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Friday December 11, 2015, 1:13 am

Thank you Dandelion! Sadly another sane voice in this wilderness is gone and has crossed over. He will always live in our hearts. Thank you for letting me know a little bit about your rich heritage, Dandelion.

May he rest in peace!

Apolonia P (393)
Friday December 11, 2015, 2:03 am
Great SOUL, RIP [*]...

Friday December 11, 2015, 2:12 am
Thank You and Safe journey, John Trudell!
Thank you, Dandelion.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday December 11, 2015, 2:36 am
Here is the link to MB's Indian Country Today short Open Letter from Family of John Trudell. Once on the site, there are other pièces in tribute to John Trudell.

I discovered the terrible news yesterday on the DN! site: I was shocked because I knew he was too young to go. The C2NN search I conducted right away led me to Judy's post, but not Dandelion's.

I'll just post the same comment here:

Let's remember the profound words and works -the courage and spirit- of this great man, whose commitment to truth and justice never wavered, even when it caused indescribable tragedy to be perpetrated against him. His powerful voice will continue to resonate within all who have heard it, and impact those who have yet to discover it.

YouTube - John Trudell: "Cry your tears" (song)
YouTube - John Trudell: We are power (a speech "on the water, the land and our brother, Leonard Peltier")

To honor John Trudell, remember him by, or get to know him...

YouTube - John Trudell, 'Tribal Voice' / full album (the first)

YouTube - John Trudell, "Bone Days" / full album, which includes the devastating 'Hanging from the Cross,' here with the lyrics.

YouTube - "Trudell," documentary on John Trudell

There were two or three different posts of the same documentary and the one I linked to on Judy's post yesterday has already been removed, after a complaint by the owners of the film rights. No way of knowing if YouTube will continue to overlook the one I've linked to here, so best advice is to watch it asap, before it, too, is removed.

Edwin M (346)
Friday December 11, 2015, 2:58 am
He may be gone from this plane, but just like John Lennon as long as he is remembered he will live on in the hearts and minds of many.

Arild Gone for now (174)
Friday December 11, 2015, 3:11 am
So sad to hear that he went to the Great Spirit,he was a great thinker and we'll always have his lifes work,You will be missed John Trudell.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday December 11, 2015, 3:15 am
One of the many comments and insights spoken by J. Trudell in the documentary: "The spirit of life is almost non-existant in the perception of reality of the society we're in" - John Trudell, February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015 (Uncanny that he should have passed the same day as John Lennon!)

Also, just discovered Counterpunch December 9, 2015 homage to John Trudell by long-time environmental activist & friend Michael Donnelly, "John Trudell: Human Being", who takes us down the road of John's activism & many accomplishments, the early ones, of course, but also his later hemp advocacy (which I didn't know about):

"Coming from a culture that has been devastated by alcohol, John became an early advocate for Cannabis as a healing Earth Medicine. John and Bad Dog performed at many pro-Cannabis events across the globe. They are beloved internationally.

"Quickly, John saw the potential in the restoration of America’s Industrial Hemp industry. In 2012, he and another of his many activist friends Willie Nelson co-founded the Hempstead Project Heart, which advocates for industrial hemp as the eco-friendly alternative source of fiber and food."

One extract about his music: "John first started setting his poetry to music in collaboration with his good friend, the legendary Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. Their collaboration AKA Graffiti Man is superb. Bob Dylan called it the best album of the year."
[full album @, including 'Rockin' the Rez,' 'Bombs Over Baghdad,' & 'Rich Man's War']

Sheryl G (360)
Friday December 11, 2015, 4:30 am
A few words from The People:

John Trudell is a prophet for our times. His words are insightful, deeply moving and powerful.- Paul Richards

John Trudell poems are soul stirring and gut wrenching at the same time. If you let the words carry your heart you will know dignity, integrity, and honor all from a man your government says has none. Ever a hero to the People; his pain is real and so is his wit. I am lucky enough to have been a witness to his truths, and unlucky enough, also. You make the Ancestors proud, John. Thank you. - Cheryl T. Schaffner

John Trudell was a voice that reminds us to think beyond the Walmart world we are being sold by the media. Stark and intense and at the same time graceful. P. Hodgson

Love you, John. Many thanks for being a planetary warrior for so long. We nodded at each other at a poetry reading in Taos. I was wanting to be respectful of your space and later realised that was stupid - should have hugged all the energy, love, respect and Honor I hold you. Peace my friend. Wopila - Ann

Wakan Tanka Wopila for John Trudell message bearer- may you give us all the ears to hear what was said on his Earth Walk - Mourning Dove

Sheryl G (360)
Friday December 11, 2015, 5:03 am
Tribute to John Trudell by Joy Harjo

One of our beloved messengers left this world December 8, 2015
In the early hours of the morning,
When the dreamers and teachers walk the earth
Speaking to us as we imagine the new day into being,
All of us here essential to the story in the great imagining.
They took John with them. It was time.

And he was ready, he’d said his goodbyes, only for now
Because we live in eternity together.
And was circled by those he loved: his children,
People whose lives he shared from his many travels
n this world to speak and sing the dreams and visions
He’d been given to take care of, to share.

And contingents of young warriors, from all over the country
Including Hickory Ground or Oce Vpofv people, from one of the last
Calls John answered for justice from the East, and other groups
From the North, West, and South arrived to pay respect
Because he was one of them, grown older and wise
After paying the terrible costs of being human
In a society broken by lies, greed, and our failures.

Everything has a cost.
Carrying a vision out of such massive tests demands the highest price of a prophet.
And we are human beings only after all.
And some visions are relentless.
To know the images and words you have to live them.
And they will not let you rest.

In every season are given messengers.
They rise up to carry a voice for a nation, a people, a time.
They emerge through holes from broken history, from bloody grounds,
stirred from the collective dream field by a need to rectify
the difference between earthly injustice and holy vision.

John Trudell was born of the need for someone among us
to stand and speak, from the Santee Sioux
Out of the heartbreak of this country, on February 15, 1946.
He grew up like other young native men, wandering these lands
Fed by water, trees, stones, and education that didn’t include them.
And in the middle of the age, when natives began gathering
Together from their tribal fires

Around the common need to affirm our mutual presence
As caretakers of our lands, our families, our existence as distinct nations
in an age of the rise of multinational corporate overlords,
and the continued loss and theft of our children to the greed carnival,
John stood up with his generation of change makers,
Questioners of evil, and warriors for justice.

He was there at Alcatraz, on the Trail of Broken Treaties, he traveled widely
as a wise witness in Indian country, in the aftermath of the aftermath
as the people stood for water rights, human rights, the right
to be human in a time when people were forgetting
What it means to be human.

“We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights,” he reminded us.
“We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights.
We must step into the reality of natural rights
because all of the natural world has a right to existence
and we are only a small part of it.
There can be no trade off.”

We need these words more than ever now.

He was John Lennon, the son of Crazy Horse, Dylan of the urban rez, the rez rez, the world rez.

“I am just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human.”

John knew that art and culture were the ways to raise us up.
Our creations hold memory so we can know who we were, who
We are, and how we are becoming—he said that the artists and warriors of the heart
are the poets, musicians, rappers, dancers, actors, painters... those who create.

He was the original thinker who said:
“Think more. Believe less.” (Believe has the word “lie” in it.)
“We don’t need more leaders. What we need are thinkers.”
“We need to make peace with the earth.”

John roused an army of young native spoken word artists, and made it okay for a warrior
To write poetry. Poetry is the love a man and woman make when they create
A planet together. Poetry is a cleansing rain bringing water to a thirsty land.

John said of his poems, “They’re called poems, but in reality they’re lines
Given to me to hang on to.” And hang onto them we did,
from Tribal Voice to Heart Jump Bouquet, to AKA Graffiti Man to Blue Indian, Bone Days, DNA: Descendants Now Ancestors, Madness and the Moremes, Crazier than HeIl, and Wazi’s Dream, and many others.

And hang on to his words we will, for they remind us that:

“No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred for those who have no sense.”

These are good words for making a trail through this beloved earth
Into the next world, a road we are all traveling together.

A very human prophet carried these words, to share, for us to continue to share.

Thank you/Mvto for honoring us with your gifts, your smile, your laughter.
John Trudell and his family ask that people pray and celebrate in their own way.

“… I appreciate all of your expressions of love. It has been like a fire to my heart. Thank you all for that fire. But please don’t worry about me, I know what I’m doing…”

We won’t worry. We will look forward to hearing that next concert with you and Jesse Ed Davis in the sky. Don’t look back. Keep going. We will see you on the other side.

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee/Creek Nation, Hickory Ground Ceremonial Ground, and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her newest collection is a book of poetry, “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,” from W.W. Norton. You can find her at

Anne P (174)
Friday December 11, 2015, 5:57 am
Thanks for everything, John Trudell. My life changed when I found your poetry and music. If ever there was a hero, you are mine. Blessings on your journey. I will miss you greatly. Remembering the two Johns with love and gratitude.

Angelika R (143)
Friday December 11, 2015, 9:29 am
A tragic loss, one great voice of wisdom and truth has left, however, not so his educational and warning words.
RIP John Trudell ,I hope the world will remember and take to heart what you taught us!
Thx for bringing the very sad news, Sheryl.

. (0)
Friday December 11, 2015, 1:10 pm
tyfs RIP

Janet B (0)
Friday December 11, 2015, 1:22 pm

David C (111)
Friday December 11, 2015, 2:13 pm
RIP, don't forget him

Birgit W (160)
Friday December 11, 2015, 2:31 pm
RIP John Trudell! Thanks Dandelion.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday December 11, 2015, 3:27 pm
Noted. Thanks for posting a bit of his prose & poetry, Dandelion. Beautiful words and timeless messages. Yes, rest in peace.

Sheryl G (360)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 5:52 am
"We must not become confused and deceived by their illusions. There is no such thing as military power; there is only military terrorism. There is no such thing as economic power; there is only economic exploitation. That is all that it is. They try to program our minds and fool us with these illusions so that we will believe that they hold the power in their hands but they do not.

All they know is how to act in a repressive, brutal way...Power...we are a natural part of the earth. We are an extension of the earth, we are not separate from it. We are a part of it. The earth is our mother. The earth is a spirit and we are an extension of that spirit. We are spirit. We are power.

They want us to believe that we have to believe in them and depend upon them and we have to consume these consumer identities and these religious identities and these political identities and these racial identities. They want to separate us from our power. They want to separate us from who we are.
John Trudell

Sheryl G (360)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 5:54 am
"We want to be free of a value system that is being imposed on us. We do not want to participate in that value system. We don't want to change that value system. We want to remove it from our lives forever.

"We must never underestimate our enemy. Our enemy is committed against us twenty-four hours a day. They use one hundred percent of their effort to maintain their materialistic status quo. One hundred percent of their effort goes into deceiving us and manipulating us against each other.

We have to devote our lives, we have to make our commitment, we have to follow a way of life that says we are going to resist that forever ... a resistance: something that we can pass on as strength to the coming generations."

"A resistance where organizational egos don't get in the way. A resistance where individual egos do not get in the way.

A resistance where the infiltrators and the provocateurs and the liars and the betrayers and the traitors, they do not get in the way ... a resistance of consciousness.

This is our obligation to the earth. And only by fulfilling our obligation to the earth can we fulfill our obligations to the people.

"We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights.

We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights.

We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it. There can be no trade-off."
John Trudell

Sheryl G (360)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 5:57 am
Absolutely.....this man who did nothing but use words was said to be the USA most dangerous man. He is only a danger because he spoke "truth".

In the documentary Trudell by Heather Rae (2005), they quote an FBI memo early on: “He is extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous.”

They compiled a 17,000-page dossier on him, one of the longest in its history.

Robert B (60)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 12:53 pm
“Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other”

(Albert Einstein)

cynthia l (207)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 4:48 pm
RIP John
ths Dandelion for sharing and honoring this giant of a man

Sheryl G (360)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 5:17 pm
Nice quote Robert.

Colleen L (3)
Saturday December 12, 2015, 11:34 pm
Will be missed. Thanks Dandelion

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 12:49 am
Btw, I read in the Wiki article on John's Paiute-Shoshone water rights activist wife, Tina Manning, that the arson attack that killed her (pregnant), their three children and her mother," took place less than 12 hours after John Trudell had delivered a speech in front of FBI headquarters during which he burned a United States flag." (

Diane K (134)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 7:17 am

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 7:20 am
That is correct. It's never been able to be "proven" but John Trudell was warned ahead of time that something was going to happen, although no specific "what" that was going to be. How better to hurt a man than not to kill him but to kill his entire family. Tina herself was a very strong activist, so it also removed her from the scene as well.

As this article mentions, despite a private investigation, that backed up what many believed to be the case it is never going to be linked to anyone specific or why. If anyone speaks out, they know they would be the next one to die, and perhaps they are already dead. Many times that happens, to make sure they don't in future speak out.

John Trudell paid a very high price for trying to awaken the masses, protect the Earth, and the Indian who has been short exchanged for hundreds of years now. As he said, all he used was words and he was come down hard upon. If the American people would wake up from their bubble they'd understand a whole lot more of the why's and the what is taking place around them. John Trudell was another generation of the Indian that has been trying to convey these truths from one generation to the next.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 10:02 am
Didn't know anything about John Trundell, but seems in essence he was in favor of the Gurdjieff idea of reciprocal maintenance (mankind and earth and its resources), and our symbiotic relationship WITH the Earth.

Unfortunately, trying to awaken the masses is now more difficult than it ever was, given the vast amount the human population has grown to, and YET, with social media and its power in the hands of the ordinary everyday citizen, we also have an opportunity to reach out to masses.

Cheers Dandelion.

Janis K (126)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 10:47 am
Thanks for sharing.

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday December 13, 2015, 12:51 pm
He was in the truest sense what the North American Indian was all about, and what most indigenous are all about the world over, before money becomes god. Respect for all of the Relations, that means all of the earth and her inhabitants.

One did not hoard, one shared, one was caring, one was Walking from the heart, and one was was in understanding that we are spiritual beings connected to all others......"others" were not just the two legged but the air, water, plants so on so forth. They lived and breathed wasn't just included in their life it was their life. He tried to explain to people how we got here and how to reconnect with the human being with an emphasis on "being".

Jonathan Harper (0)
Monday December 14, 2015, 12:33 am

Bryan S (105)
Monday December 14, 2015, 9:30 am
Wow i'm so surprised and sorry to hear of John Trudell's passing. He was and is truly a strong spirit who loved the land and all beings. Thanks Sheryl for posting those poems, and the article. Moving words about "lines for me to hold onto" when he described his poetry. So much great art and words he left. Maybe among the most dangerous were, "No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense."

Sheryl G (360)
Monday December 14, 2015, 2:18 pm
Another good article about John Trudell was written by Hanay Geiogamah a professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television and American Indian Studies.
An Appreciation of John Trudell

Maryann S (112)
Tuesday December 15, 2015, 3:34 pm
Blessings to the family at this sorrowful time.


Past Member (0)
Sunday January 17, 2016, 11:17 pm
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