Artist and activist John Trudell to speak at NWIC

On April 25, poet, musician and human rights and environmental activist John Trudell will speak on Northwest Indian College’s (NWIC) Lummi campus.

Trudell, who is Santee Sioux, is also known for his roles in the films “Thunderheart,” “Smoke Signals” and “On Deadly Ground.” He will speak twice at NWIC: first at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. Both talks will be held in the Log Building and are free and open to the public. Before his evening talk, Trudell will be available at a meet and greet starting at 6 p.m.

In recent years, Trudell has focused much attention in his talks and creative work on environmental issues, which are among those at the forefront of NWIC’s focus, said Steve Pavlik, NWIC Native American Studies instructor.

“A number of us at NWIC use John’s work in our classrooms and find that his life story is an inspiration to our students,” Pavlik said. “I wanted John to speak at NWIC because he is an iconic figure in the American Indian experience.”

In addition to his artistic work and environmental activism, Trudell was also a spokesperson for the United Indians of All Tribes takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969, and a longtime member of the American Indian Movement. 

In 1979, his pregnant wife, three children, and mother-in-law were killed in a house fire believed by many to be an act of arson committed by people opposed to his activism. Shortly after this tragic event, Trudell turned his attention to the work he is best known for today: Native inspired poetry and music, Pavlik said.

In 1979, Trudell recorded his first album, “A.K.A. Graffiti Man.” In all, Trudell has released over a dozen albums, most featuring his own poetry set to Native music.

In 2005 a documentary film was made on his life entitled “Trudell.”

For more information, contact Steve Pavlik at