John Trudell

John Trudell was a native American activist, poet and musician, who also appeared in nearly a dozen films throughout the 90s and 2000s. Born in Omaha and raised in Nebraska's Santee Sioux Reservation, as a young man ... Read more »
Born: 02/15/1946 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA


Actor (19)

No More Smoke Signals 2009 (Movie)


The 11th Hour 2007 (Movie)


A Thousand Roads 2004 (Movie)

Narrator (Actor)

Stand and Be Counted 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


Alcatraz Is Not An Island 1999 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Smoke Signals 1998 (Movie)

Randy Peone (Actor)

The West 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


Extreme Measures 1996 (Movie)

Tony (Actor)

On Deadly Ground 1994 (Movie)

Johnny Redfeather (Actor)

Crossroads 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Incident at Oglala 1992 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Thunderheart 1992 (Movie)

Jimmy Looks Twice (Actor)

Farm Aid IV 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


Powwow Highway 1989 (Movie)

Louie Short Hair (Actor)

The Californians 1983 (Movie)


DreamKeeper (TV Show)

Music (2)

Skins 2002 (Movie)

("Spirit Horses") (Song Performer)

Incident at Oglala 1992 (Movie)

music score producer (Music)
Other (2)

Into the Mainstream 1990 (Movie)

poem("Grafitti Man") (Other)

The Broken Chain (TV Show)



John Trudell was a native American activist, poet and musician, who also appeared in nearly a dozen films throughout the 90s and 2000s. Born in Omaha and raised in Nebraska's Santee Sioux Reservation, as a young man Trudell immersed himself in the culture and history of the native American people (something that would help him out later on in life when he became a political activist). Before he became political, however, Trudell joined the United States Navy in 1963. He proudly served his country for the next four years, and was also one of the earliest military men to be stationed in Vietnam. After leaving the Navy in 1967, Trudell spent the next two years studying radio and broadcasting at a small college in Southern California. By 1969, however, as the cultural upheaval of the 1960s was hitting its tipping point, Trudell decided to leave college behind to become the spokesperson for the United Indians' of All Tribes takeover of the San Francisco prison island known as Alcatraz. For the next two years Trudell utilized his broadcasting skills to host a radio show that discussed the plight of the native American people. Many heard the radio show, seeing as it was broadcast through the University of California Berkeley's radio station. However, after two years of hosting the program, Trudell and the United Indians' of All Tribes found that the United States government was still not meeting the needs of protestors on Alcatraz. Furious that his and his people's voice was not being heard, Trudell spent the next several years as chairman of the  American Indian Movement. During his tenure with the movement, Trudell fought tirelessly for native American causes, while giving a voice to his people in the United States government. However, tragedy struck Trudell in 1979 when his entire family was killed in a fire. The circumstances of the blaze were suspicious, and until the day he died, Trudell suspected arson as the motive. Shocked by the sudden loss of his pregnant wife and three children, Trudell spent the next three decades devoting himself to the arts. He became a writer of poetry, releasing a critically acclaimed collection in 2008, as well as a musician who appeared on over a dozen albums. Furthermore, Trudell also appeared in several films including "Extreme Measures" (1996) and "Sawtooth" (2004). In 2005 Trudell also had a documentary about his life made, which made his life's work of accomplishments available to a whole new generation of fans. After spending nearly 50 years fighting for native American causes, Trudell passed away on December 8, 2015 at the age of 69.



Made final film appearance in "Dark Blood"


"Trudell," a documentary about his life, was released to great acclaim


Appeared in "Sawtooth"


Made film debut in "Powwow Highway"

Bonus Trivia


Trudell served in the United States Navy from 1963 to 1967, and was one of the earliest U.S. military men to be sent to Vietnam.


Trudell was best known for serving as the official spokesperson of the Indians' of All Tribes 1969 takeover of Alcatraz.


Trudell suffered a major tragedy when his pregnant wife and three children were killed in a suspicious house fire; he later suspected arson as the motive.


In the early 1980s, Trudell turned his focus into writing and music. Over the next several years he played on several albums, in addition to publishing a collection of poems in 2008.