b. February 15, 1946
Born of mixed tribal blood, John Trudell grew up in and around the Santee Sioux reservation near his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from 1963-1967. In 1969, Trudell participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes, becoming a spokesman for the group. After the occupation ended in 1971, Trudell worked with the American Indian Movement, becoming national Chairman of AIM in 1973 until 1979. In February of 1979, Trudell's wife and three children were killed in a fire of unknown origin hours after he had set fire to a U.S. flag in Washington, DC. In 1982, with Jackson Browne's help, Trudell launched a career as a recording artist that continues to this day.
In November 2005, Trudell was inducted into the High Times Counterculture Hall of Fame at the 18th Cannabis Cup Awards Show in Amsterdam. Trudell is the first Native American to receive the honor. In his acceptance speech, Trudell said, "Cannabis is an integral part of the web of life, and how we connect to it and how we use it can be very strengthening to the overall meaning and overall purpose of life. It truly is a medicine and it's a medicine for us so that we can be a medicine to the earth."
"I don't smoke marijuana to escape," he said. "It helps me to think about things other than my fears, to see more clearly and think things out." "My DNA needs THC," Trudell chants in his song "Grassfire" from his disk "Blue Indians" (1999).
Trudell spoke with wisdom and heart at the Humboldt Hempfest in November 2010, where he reminded us that as medical marijuana is medicine for people, hemp is medicine for the planet. He called his tour that year the "Hemp Is Earth Medicine" tour.
Changing the Face of Cannabis