18 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 18 ~ John Trudell

When NaPoWriMo’s website suggested a portrait poem, I took the opportunity to promote one of my personal heroes: John Trudell. He shows up in my work often; he deserves April airtime. Follow my tags about Trudell if you are interested in him. He’s also got work available on iTunes, I suggest his CD DNA. The movie Trudell is worth having in any home video library. The image I paint of JT in the first two stanzas comes from a scene in the movie. He was involved in the American Indian takeover of Alcatraz. I write about it in What Happened at Alcatraz if you are interested. John Trudell is a prophet, but not a saint.

In the past I’ve noted that I get hits on my blog from the Russian Federation when I post about Trudell. If you are from the Russian Federation, please leave me a comment, let me know why he draws your attention.

John Trudell
He is extremely eloquent . . .
therefore extremely dangerous.
--FBI memo

A silver bell outshines simple hoops
beneath your black brown hair
whipping through wind
on a boat back to Alcatraz.

Your weathered sunglassed face
reflects ancestral DNA.
The familiarity of your voice
runs through my torso;
its message parleys
It revs me up.

It makes me feel righteous
and wronged.
It makes me feel lied to
and denied.
It makes me feel ashamed
and afraid.

wisdom underscores
words that illuminate
truth from perspective

You say,
“They used their
Manifest Destiny mentality
to justify their genocide.”

I say that to me, “they” is we.
White America
wake up and make amends!

But where do we even begin?

Thank you to Writer's Island for providing a place to post every day this month, and always on Saturdays.


Stan Ski said...

'They' get everywhere, don't they?

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful poem.

We have just finished watching 'Into The West'. It is a repeat; I missed it first time around. I'm still filled with rage at how native Americans were screwed over so badly.

I particularly like this:

It makes me feel righteous
and wronged.
It makes me feel lied to
and denied.
It makes me feel ashamed
and afraid.

Mr. Walker said...

Brenda, thank you. It's a wonderful poem, with a powerful message, honest and reflective. And thank you for the info on John Trudell. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know who he was, and I teach in San Francisco. I will later check out your link. Oddly enough, my younger son wants to go visit Alcatraz.

Marianne said...

Powerful piece! And like Mr. Walker, I must admit to not being familiar with John Trudell. Thank you for enlightening me.

Andy Sewina said...

Phew, you've opened my eyes too! Very nicely presented!!

flaubert said...

Brenda, this is a powerful poem. The history of the American Indian is a heartbreaking tale. Thanks for link, I'll go check it out.


Gloria said...

Excellent, informative, and appreciated. Thanks for writing such a thought provoking piece and broadening my education, Brenda.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, thank you for this info on John Trudell. I had no idea of who he is or his importance in documenting American history.

They say that "the winners write the history." This is especially true in American history curricula; Mr. Walker and I have discussed this. The winners? Rich White Males, especially straight (or closeted). Thank God there is someone like John to repair the breach.


Judy Roney said...

I love learning when I read and now I'm learning about John Trudell. Thanks.