This week, on the 500th episode of From the Vault, we pay homage to John Trudell, one of the greatest champions of Native American rights, who passed away on December 8th, 2015.
Trudell, an acclaimed poet, recording artist, actor and activist, has been connected with Pacifica Radio since 1969. Pacifica audiences first became familiar with Trudell in his capacity as the communications director of the All Nation's occupation of Alcatraz Island, where on December 22, 1969, he began hosting regular broadcasts of Radio Free Alcatraz, which were first heard on Pacifica station 94.1 FM in Berkeley, and then broadcast across the Pacifica Radio Network. Trudell would go on to become the Chairman of the American Indian Movement from 1973 - 1979. When a fire of unknown origin killed his wife, three daughters, and mother-in-law in 1979, Trudell turned to poetry to help deal with his grief, and he would eventually begin touring internationally to read poetry and perform music.
In this episode we present recordings of John Trudell live on Alcatraz Island in 1969, in Long Beach, California in 1992, and on the campus of California State University - Hayward in 1994. Also sampled is audio from a benefit for the Indians on Alcatraz Island recorded at Stanford University on December 12, 1969 featuring Malvina Reynolds and Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as music from John Trudell's 2002 release Bone Days. First, though, we'll start with a recording of the former president of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, Steve Rohde, reciting a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller, "And Then They Came For Me," about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, mainly Jews and homosexuals.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.