John Trudell has been identified as a poet, a fighter for Native American rights, an agitator, and lots of other things. His spoken word brand of rock and roll album "AKA Grafitti Man" on Rykodisk (Jackson Browne, executive producer) reflects much of that life experience. He continues to dare to speak out with insightful compassion on his second Rykodisc album, "Johnny Damas and Me." Trudell has appeared in the feature film "Thunderheart," the television drama "Crossroads," toured Europe, and appeared as a featured performer with "Peter Gabriel's WOMAD Festival."
In 1969, his sense of indigenous roots and connections was galvanized by the Indians of All Tribes Occupation of Alcatraz Island. That event, for which Trudell acted as national spokesman, was the first time that the plight of Native Americans was brought into mainstream American consciousness. Along with the recognition of the media came the attention of the U.S. government, particularly that of the FBI. Trudell subsequently served as National Chairman of the American Indian movement from 1973 to 1979.
Of the government's response, Trudell states,"They waged war against us. They hunted us down. They killed, jailed, destroyed, by any means necessary. They saw that magical thing that happened with Alcatraz . . . all of a sudden all this spirit is popping up and gaining momentum through A.I.M., and this is why the spirit-hunters, those who hunt free thought, came after us."
On February 11, 1979 he burned an American flag on the steps of the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, DC. Twelve hours later, a fire "of suspicious origin" tourched his home on the Paiute Shoshone Reservation in Nevada, killing his wife, Tina, their three children, and Tina's mother. The FBI declined to investigate and the fire was deemed an accident. A 17,000 page FBI file bearing Trudell's name remains a testament to his years under government scrutiny.
"The Grafitti Man band is . . . all we need to know about rock and roll as revolution." --LA Weekly
"'AKA Grafitti Man' is the best album of 1986. Only people like Lou Reed and John Doe can dream about doing work like this." -- Bob Dylan
"Probably the most charismatic speaker I've ever heard." -- Bonnie Raitt
"['AKA Grafitti Man'] . . . will shake you up and make you dance; it challenges your commitment to justice and above all else, it rocks." -- Rolling Stone