FBI dossier on John Trudell
John Trudell has fathered more children since 1979 when three of them, his wife and his mother-in-law died in a fire. But he
doesn't like to talk about them. "All I will say is that I have many children and they're not in the same place. Nobody's going to come in and kill all my kids at one time ever again. It's just not going to happen, it's not going to happen."
Prior to this tragedy, John Trudell had been the spokeperson for the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island for 19 months, 1969-71; he was the national chairman of AIM (the American Indian Movement) 1972 -79 including being an AIM leader during the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.
His activism drew the attention of the FBI, which compiled a 17,000-page file on him.
Then, in February 1979 -- a few days before his 33rd birthday, he led a march to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. He had received a warning against speaking, but instead, he delivered an address from the steps of the FBI building on the subject of the agency's harassment of Indians. Less than 12 hours later, Trudell's pregnant wife, Tina, his three children, and his wife's mother were burned alive in a fire that destroyed their home on the Shoshone Paiute reservation in Nevada.- the apparent work of an arsonist.
"Murdered," Trudell said. "It's very simple. They were murdered."
I've had the pleasure of hearing John Trudell a few times. He's an extremely intelligent man, a bit of a loose cannon, someone with little to lose. After the murder of his wife and children to 'influence' his leadership within the Native community, he came forward as a man with nothing much more to lose - stripped bare. To me, he's always appeared as a very free man, making him quite dangerous.
Out of this experience he found his words in poetry and songwriting. He hooks up lines of truth. Dangerous truth. This one is a recent one of his and it comes with the usual warning to the sensitive: This is a hard one. Truth often is.
"I'm just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing its understanding of being human."
- John Trudell