Honour Each Other ~ Honour Mother Earth


“I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.”

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce


What follows is a common story of many tribes of the indigenous people

of North and South America;  indeed, of all over the world.

And mother earth herself… the struggle continues.


Part One:  the Nez Perce


Mother Earth - bruce witzel photo


Story of Mother Earth



Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana - bruce witzel photo

Big Hole National Battlefield near the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana 


800px-Flight_of_the_Nez_Perce-1877-map - coutesy US National Park Service


In the long summer of 1877 nearly 800 Non-Treaty Nez Perce fled nearly one thousand miles from the United States Calvary and their Nez Perce traditional homeland on the Columbia River plateau. They refused to be placed on a reservation and they were trying to reach the camp of Sitting Bull. He and his people had found refuge from war with the White Mother at Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills of Canada. After the five day Battle of Bear Paw that ended in a bitter early autumn snow storm, the survivors were captured by the American military only forty miles south of the Canadian border. On the early morning of October 5, Chief Joseph sent this message to the U.S. commanders:

Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are dead. Looking glass is dead. Tu-huh-hul-sote is dead. The old… are all dead… It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food; no one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Here me, my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I shall fight no more forever.


Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce with a United States General

Chief Joseph with a U.S. officer

(two photos of photos)

From the Nez Perce Historical Park at Big Hole National Battlefield in Montana


Red Elk speaks - bruce witzel photo



Part 2 – Occupying Alcatraz and John Trudell



Alcatraz Island o ccupied by the American Indian Movement in 1969 - bruce witzel photo



A mural located at the San Francisco Art Institute:

At the San Francisco Art Institute - bruce witzel photo


For a period from late 1969 to mid 71’ a group of young activists, The Tribes of All Nations, occupied the former penitentiary of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.

John Trudel at Alcatraz


Alcatraz -bruce witzel photo


1969 Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People

From the Indians of  All Tribes


We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.

We wish to be fair and honourable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:

We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47¢ per acre that the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land…. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honourable in our dealings with all white men. 


View from Alcatraz - bruce witzel photo


We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations in that:


1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.

2. It has no fresh running water.

3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.

4. There are no oil or mineral rights.

5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.

6. There are no health care facilities.

7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game.

8. There are no educational facilities.

9. The population has always exceeded the land base.

10. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.


Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.


Artwork at the Arizona Biltmore - bruce witzel photo



Homeland Security poster shows  Chiricua Apache with Geronimo on the Right


John Trudell on civilization and the great lie


Left to right – John Trudell with fellow musicians Bob Dylan, Jesse Ed Davis,

and below, George Harrison. 


(L to R) John Trudell, Bob Dylan, Jesse Ed Davis and George Harrsion (front) - photo source unknown



John Trudell quote on love of people and the earth 



Wildflowers at Nez Perez Historic Park, Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana - bruce witzel photo

Ephemeral Wildflowers keep returning to the site of the Battle of Big Hole



Near the Bitterroot Mountains and Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana - bruce witzel photo 

The land near the Bitterroot Mountains and the Big Hole National Battlefield


Attempted assimilaition of indigenous peoples of  the Americas - bruce witzel photo


We did not travel here; we are of this land.

We did not declare our independence;

we have always been free.


~ Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee ~




Butterflies in Spirit Dance Troupe - photo source unknown


We are Butterflies In Spirit


My indigenous First Nations niece, Maranda, is in the front row on the left. She is part of a Vancouver dance troupe, Butterflies in Spirit, which raises awareness to Canadians of tens of hundreds of missing indigenous women. A similar campaign is known as No More Stolen Sisters and facilitated by Amnesty International. Two more of my nieces are with me below.


Bruce, Chelsea & Jade - Violet Johnson photo


John Trudell was a key spokesperson for the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the 1970’s. His pregnant wife Tina, all four of their children and John’s mother-in-law were murdered by an arson fire in 1979. Evidence at the site of the fire (their home on a Northern Nevada reservation) was destroyed and later covered up by American government officials, who called it accidental. It is memorialized in Trudell’s song But This Isn’t El Salvador. 

In our ongoing global chorus towards world wide liberation and justice for the earth and her people, let us believe less and think more, says Trudell.

You can watch the beautiful and powerful documentary film ‘Trudell’, here, created by Heather Rae.




Another link and very detailed review about John Trudell’s life including an interview, was written by Tamra Spivey here at Newtopia Magazine, a wordpress blog.   

Trudell continues to speak out fearlessly against the present world dis-order of oppression and ecocide.  He is “extremely eloquent… and therefore extremely dangerous,” said an FBI memo. As Tamra Spivey points out, this speaks as much about government control as it does about Trudell.

Such attitudes, I might add, are become more prevalent through the world. Canada’s recent Bill 51, the so-called anti-terrorism act, gives CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Agency) broader power and moves us towards a police state mentality.

Are you listening CSIS? Recently I’ve discovered you have information on file about me.

Here is some more! 


~ I give this in love and peace for all ~

yours sincerely

~ Bruce ~





Honour each other… honour mother earth.


Mother Earth mural - artist unknown




26 thoughts on “INDIGENOUS WISDOM & REALITY (moments in time)

  1. I always look forward to your posts, Bruce. Thank you for such thoughtful and exceptional information worth careful thought and reflection. I think I’d like to learn more about Trudell. Thank you for such a peaceful blessing.

    • I think you’ll find ‘Trudell’ insightful & provocative, informative & empowering, and ultimately uplifting as a witness to the power of our common spirit and humanity. May you find it enjoyable as well, Roy…. this weekend is somehow apropos.

      • Well Bruce that was highly educational and thought-provoking. I’m ashamed that I never heard of the guy and my knowledge on this subject is woeful – a little less so now. Heart-rending about the fire tragedy. Thanks for your post and to the introduction to Trudell. I’ve thrown the ‘Johnny Lobo’ vid up on my Facebook page this morning which will confuse a few people over here 🙂

      • Good choice for the Johnny Lobo video – Kristofferson’s song tell’s Trudell’s story well. I’ll actually look for the video myself. Glad you watched the doc, Roy.

  2. “Trudell continues to speak out fearlessly against the present world dis-order of oppression and ecocide. He is “extremely eloquent… and therefore extremely dangerous,” said an FBI memo. As Tamra Spivey points out, this speaks as much about government control as it does about Trudell.”

    If people can spiritually articulate exactly why the FBI considered John Trudell “extremely dangerous” for his eloquence, then the path toward global brotherhood and peace appears, ready to be walked.

    Thank you, Bruce

    • Your welcome Jerry Peacemaker. Who new eloquence could be dangerous? Inspiring, yes…I get it. But dangerous? Speaking the truth about power. That’s what Trudell does. And the powerful and the elite don’t like it.

      Although it’s hard to keep up with all the good work people do, thank you for your own contribution.

  3. Bruce, this is such an important discussion that links past and present oppression of Indigenous people and interweaves crucial messages about peace and inclusion. It’s not easy for Indigenous peoples to put aside justifiable anger and deep pain when so many people remain ignorant of history and current events. Posts like yours are crucial to help raise awareness. Chi miigwetch.

    (And your nieces are so beautiful!)

    • Your welcome Carol 🙂 And yes, they are lovely nieces.

      Justifiable anger, yes to that too. And there is so much pain. Recently in the nearby Kwakiutl coastal community of Alert Bay the old residential school met the wrecking ball…it was a big monstrosity, not far from the Namgis’ Nation Big House. The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations was also there to celebrate & a small healing ceremony.

      I appreciate your support Carol, your indigenous wisdom and inclusiveness… the goodness of your humanity.

  4. Steve and I tried to read “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” by Peter Matthiessen together, out loud, but didn’t get all the way through it. So much pain and misunderstanding that I had never known or imagined is hard to digest. We did read about Alcatraz there. I’d lived in the Bay area 4 years while in high school and never heard a bit of that story. I wonder how widespread the general ignorance is in the US – probably intentional and willfully supported by the government. Fighting ignorance with beautiful art is a long struggle, but well worth it.

    • Hi Priscilla – it’s odd that I actually started this post for WPC Walls… 🙂 Then as I studied the Alcatraz occupation I pulled out my original cassette tape of Trudells AKA Graffiti Man…. and the post morphed. I had never seen the documentary about him, though I was aware of his work.

      My original knowledge on the experience of “Native Americans” was the book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, back in 76′. That doesn’t even get into the contemporary suffering of aboriginal peoples through the 20th and 21st century, as Matthiessen’s book does.

      John Trudell points that when AIM occupied wounded knee (maybe around 73, I think) the American public was far more sympathetic to the plight of Indigenous Peoples than they were to the Nixon regime. Trudell theorizes that it was at this point that the FBI took note and then started work to discredit AIM through infiltration, moving some of it’s members towards armed struggle. Hence, the incident at Oglala, and later the trials and original acquittals of the native defendants. And later, the false deportment of Leonard Peltier from Canada and his subsequent sentence of life imprisonment.

      As far as I am aware John Trudell has consistently opposed armed struggle. He explains that especially after the murder of his family, he turned to culture, art, poetry and music as a means of transformation. Trudell mentions one thing that helps answer the WHY? I was not aware of the scale, that more than half of America’s traditional energy reserves (i.e. oil, gas, coal and uranium) lie within reservation lands.

      For you and Steve, I highly recommend the documentary film, Trudell. Fran and I, over the years, have read a few books together… a documentary is quite a bit less challenging. The Trudell doc may be an exception, but in a good way!

    • My good hermit friend Charles Brandt sent me this quote today

      “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew” – Saint Francis de Sales

    • Your welcome Rosaliene. Credit really goes to John Trudell who has really got me thinking about life and the earth this past week. He has said that with Classism, Ageism, Sexism, Racism, we have forgotten that we are all the same – we are all human beings.

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