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Remembering Trudell by Matt Remle

On December 8th, 2015 Santee Sioux activist, artist, actor, poet, and one time national chairman for the American Indian Movement John Trudell passed on.

John Trudell was born Feb. 15, 1946, in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up near the Santee Sioux Reservation.  After a serving in the US Navy, Trudell became involved Native activism and in 1969 he joined others in the occupation of Alcatraz were he served as the spokesman.

The 14 month occupation of Alcatraz drew international attention to the issues impacting Native communities from treaty rights abuses to poverty.  John Trudell gave daily radio addresses from the island.

Alcatraz Proclamation To the Great White Father and his People 1969

We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.  We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty: We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for 24 dollars in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago.  We know that $24 in trade goods for these sixteen acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years.  Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47 cents per acre the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land.  We will give to the inhabitants of this land a portion of that land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian Government for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea — to be administered by the Bureau of Caucasian Affairs (BCA). We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilization and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with all white men. We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable as and Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards.

By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations, in that:

1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.
2. It has no fresh running water.
3. The sanitation facilities are inadequate.
4. There are no oil or mineral rights.
5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.
6. There are no health care facilities.
7. The soil is rocky and non-productive and the land does not support game.
8. There are no educational facilities.
9. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.

Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.

From 1973-1979, Trudell served as the national chairman of the American Indian Movement.  In 1979, while at a demonstration in Washington DC, Trudell’s pregnant wife, Tina Manning, three children and his mother-in-law were killed in a fire at her parents house on the Duck Valley reservation.  Trudell and others have long suspected government involvement as the cause of the fire.

The FBI dossier on Trudell exceeded 17,000 pages, one of the largest in bureau history.

In 1983, Trudell released “Tribal Voice” a spoken word album to critical acclaim.  He would go on to record several albums.

In addition to being a musician, Trudell made several film appearances including the 1992 critically acclaimed “Thunderheart” and in 1998 “Smoke Signals”.

In 2005, the documentary “Trudell” was released that documented his life from growing up in Nebraska, to his involvement with the American Indian Movement, to his life as a musician and spoken word artist.

Trudell inspired generations of Native peoples and non-Native peoples alike with his philosophies and world views that challenged people to think deeply and critically about the industrial societies in which we live in and what it means to be a human in a world that is rapidly losing its understanding of being human.

Matt Remle (Lakota) - green shirt - is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire.



Eugene Maraventano, 64, has confessed to the murder of his wife and son, and he’s offered up some bizarre reasons for his actions. As the Phoenix New Times reports, he became convinced that he infected his wife with the HIV virus, and assumed his son was handicapped.

The man stabbed his wife to death while she slept, and then went down the hallway and did the same to his son. He tried to kill himself several times in the aftermath, but his efforts proved unsuccessful.

“I killed my wife and I killed my son; I can’t kill myself,” he told the 911 operator.

Police would arrive and find him with several wounds to his chest. He was transported to the hospital, and he was interviewed while receiving care. Maraventano explained that his wife had taken ill, but doctors couldn’t get to the bottom of it.

He assumed that he had infected her with HIV, as he “frequented with prostitutes” in years past. As for his son, he noted that he “plays video games all day, has no girlfriend, and must be handicap[ped] because he can’t get a job.”

BREAKING! Senator Bernie Sanders & Others Demand Obama Permanently Halt Dakota Access Pipeline



enator Bernie Sander has joined with four other Senators in order to call on President Obama to bring a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline so that a full environmental and cultural review can be completed.

Sanders, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) all signed the letter which called for the revoking of all permits and easements until the proper investigations can be made.

Said the senators:

“If there is one profound lesson that indigenous people have taught us, it is that all of us as human beings are part of nature. We will not survive if we continue to destroy nature.”

This request echoes those made in recent weeks, though previous efforts have been overturned by local courts or ignored by the construction company altogether.

The protests at the site of the proposed pipeline have continued for months as Native Americans and activist allies join together to try and stop what they view as an attack both on the environment, and on their history and culture.

The Department of Justice had already requested that the company, Energy Transfer Partners, halt construction for environmental and cultural reviews, but the company refused. Activists celebrated when a federal circuit court ordered an emergency halt on the construction, but that, too, was shortly revoked.

This is not the first time Sanders has stood up for the No DAPL protest, and last month, he joined a protest on the White House lawn to address the subject.

Corporate Greed and Betraying the Sacred: Energy Companies Threaten Native Culture


Commentary: An energy company plans a project that would destroy land Native people hold as sacred. Despite Native protests, neither state nor federal agencies intervene to protect those cultural sites. The project proceeds. The land is forever altered. Hundreds of Native people and their supporters converge on the site to protest and to grieve their loss.

Given recent news, not to mention the choice of photo at the top of this story, you could be forgiven for assuming I’m describing current events at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. That’s where the companyEnergy Transfer Partnersis trying to push the new Dakota Access Pipeline through burial grounds and medicine wheels sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The project has already destroyed important sacred sites, and threatens to pollute the Missouri River and local groundwater if it’s built and the inevitable spills ensue.

But I’m actually describing a gathering four years ago in the southernmost parts of the California desert. There, near the little desert town of Ocotillo, hundreds of Native people from across the southwestern United States gathered on June 24, 2014. They were there to mark the destruction of ancient cremation sites, ceremonial locations and other important cultural resources by Pattern Energy, which built the Ocotillo Express wind power facility in Imperial County.

Indigenous people often pay the greatest price when the landscape is developed for the benefit of the world’s industrial economy. When your culture is intimately interwoven with a healthy and diverse natural landscape, you’re much more likely to take it personally when outside investors propose to pave that landscape.

Morton County officials being sued for use of ‘excessive force’ against protesters

MANDAN, N.D. (Valley News Live) On Monday, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed a class action through the US District Court against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force against Dakota Access Pipeline protesters earlier this month.

The suit was filed through the U.S. District Court in Bismarck by those who were hurt on November 20th and November 21st.

They want an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies from using rubber bullets, lead-filled “beanbags,” water cannons and hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents used against protesters.

We’ve attached the suit to this story. Check back with Valley News Live on this developing story.

The U.S. May Finally Get a TV Network for Native Americans


Among the programs APTN has shown in Canada are “Mohawk Girls,” a scripted comedy-drama that has been likened to a “Sex and the City” for Native peoples; “Rabbit Fall,” a supernatural series; and “Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock,” a kids’ series based on Tinglit stories about maintaining principles.

Now they’d like to bring that idea to the U.S. “We think the time is right for Native Americans to have their own channel,” CEO Jean La Rose told Variety, adding that:

Native American producers are poised and eager to have the same opportunities, and we believe that we can work together to provide a unique window into the lives — past, present and future — of this community.