Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

Filmmaker urges understanding of Indian culture, spirituality

May 11, 2007


John Trudell doesn't mince his words when it comes to addressing the state of American Indian affairs.

"When I look at the state of Native America, our people, we're surrounded by chaos," Trudell told listeners Thursday night at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Trudell, a poet, musician and one-time prominent activist for the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, spoke in Lawrence as a prelude to screening his documentary and addressing the Haskell Commencement Pow Wow tonight.

On the surface, Trudell's comments Thursday showed a grim outlook.

"The state of Native America today is just as precarious a situation now as it was in the 1700s and 1600s," he said.

Yet, positive undertones were clear in his message that Indians can improve their situation - often characterized by poverty and short life spans - in part by embracing and recognizing Indian spirituality.

"We need to understand who we are," he implored the crowd of about 150. "Recognize ourselves for who we are."

The halcyon days of the American Indian Movement were in the late 1970s, but Trudell said the government had managed to largely crush AIM by the 1980s, which was about the time he left the organization.

"When I look back at the AIM days, it was a great time," he said. "... But we couldn't get beyond ourselves in some ways."

More recently, Trudell has focused on a musical and film career, which includes being the subject of a documentary called "Trudell."

He will screen the film at 2 p.m. today at Haskell Auditorium.

One student asked him what could be done by younger Indians who live in a system the student described as "glorified welfare."

"It's not so much glorified welfare," Trudell said. "It's chump change for what they owe us."

Terri Dyer, a member of the Kickapoo tribe, said she found Trudell's words inspiring, given that she believes that American Indians continue to face discrimination and difficulties, even locally.

"We're still fighting the fight," she said, "here in Lawrence, Kansas."


LongRider 6 years, 11 months ago

American Heritage Dictionary quote "cul*ture 1 a. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. b. These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population: Edwardian culture; Japanese culture; the culture of poverty. c. These patterns, traits, and products considered with respect to a particular category, such as a field, subject, or mode of expression: religious culture in the Middle Ages; musical culture; oral culture. d. The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization." end quote

Based on proper english dictionary definitions Trudell's comments were about modern indian culture on the reservation. Growing up being treated like a parasite for living off of per capita income. With the misconception of mainstream America that reservation indians receive "free" money for being Indian. Welfare indians, to lazy to do anything else. Fact is, per capita money would be called rent or profit sharing when in does not involve our First People, payment for the resources being taken off of the reservation. There are old people freezing in the winter unable to afford windows for their home who have oil wells pumping oil on their property and the Bureau Of Indian Affairs pockets the money. Ranchers, mining and oil companies get rich off of Native Peoples resources and Native People live on a reservation in third world poverty with little or no opportunity. Reservations have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Reservations have the highest unemployment rate for veterans in the nation. Reservations have the highest unemployment rate of collage graduates in the nation. You can serve in the US military, you can get a collage degree but if you are Native living on the reservation, you probably an not get a job. Forget about health care or decent housing. That is the culture of poverty on the reservation.


kcwarpony 6 years, 11 months ago

"One student asked him what could be done by younger Indians who live in a system the student described as "glorified welfare.""

Sounds like the question wasn't about understanding culture and spirtuality. So what's the problem?


JSDAD 6 years, 11 months ago

It's not so much glorified welfare," Trudell said. "It's chump change for what they owe us."

what does that have to do with understanding culture and spirtuality?


bobberboy 6 years, 11 months ago

P.S. Maybe the indians ought to try and get out more often. I seldom see any indians in Lawrence but when I do I think it's pretty cool. Sorry to crush the perception of yourselves but I don't have the slightest problem with indians and I don't know anyone else that does. I think if your still "fighting the fight" then it's because you just like to fight.


bobberboy 6 years, 11 months ago

Why not just try blending into the one culture that everyone else in the world wants to belong to. What's wrong with trying to get a good education and then a good job and enjoying the fruits of your labors ? Hey, you can always build a teepee in your backyard and go out there when you want. I remember when I was a kid I liked to go to my treehouse and chill - it was alot of fun.


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