John Trudell quote on love of people and the earth


The earth lost a great spokes-person this past Tuesday. John Trudell died at age 69 of cancer.     


Although I mourn deeply,  John’s light and spirit will continue in death as in life,

like a mighty comet in the clear night sky.


Lake at night and the nightt sky - John trudell RIP Sept. 12, 2014 Bruce Witzel photo.2


“John Trudell was a Santee Dakota activist, artist, actor, and poet, who led a life dedicated to indigenous human rights, land and language issues,” said fellow poet Alex Jacobs. He was also an incredible musician.

His family released a statement yesterday which reads in part: “His wishes are for people to celebrate life and love, pray and remember him in their own ways in their own communities.”

“With love for all.”

John said near the end of his life “I appreciate all of your expressions of concern and I appreciate all of your expressions of love. It has been like a fire to my heart. Thank you all for that fire. But please don’t worry about me . . .”


John Trudell_Photo - from his official website - Rest in Peace with love, Bruce


John Trudell’s life story was memorialized in the ballad of Johnny Lobo,

written and sung by Kris Kristofferson.


Click on this link for a listen. 


Johnny Lobo


Once upon a dusty reservation

Somewhere in the land of sitting bull

Johnny Lobo played with fire and dreamed of open spaces

Locked inside a heaven gone to hell

All the dreams were gone but not forgotten

Murdered like the holy buffalo

But johnny lobo knew the rules and grew into a warrior

Fighting for his people and his soul


Oh…… johnny lobo

Oh…… johnny lobo


Loaded down with lessons that he carried

Home from Vietnam to Wounded Knee

Johnny lobo burned a flag he knew had been dishonored

Paid the price for thinking he was free

Someone set his house on fire, burned it to the ground

With his wife and children locked inside

Later when the bitter tears were falling to the ashes

Something good in johnny lobo died


Oh…… johnny lobo

Oh…… johnny lobo


In a darkened corner of a tavern

Burning down old memories again

Johnny lobo stares into the smoke and dream of clouds

Running like wild horses with the wind

Holy phoenix rising from the ashes

Into the circle of the sun

Johnny lobo’s warrior heart was burnished in the embers

And the battle’s just begun


Oh…… johnny lobo

Oh…… johnny lobo







Rest in peace John



  1. Thanks for sharing, Bruce. Thanks, too, for that Trudell quote: “We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it.”

  2. Sad to hear this Bruce. I’m pleased to have learnt about Johnny Lobo via your blog and the documentary, which was awesome. A one-in-a-million guy but, as you say, his light and spirit will live on.

    • Yes Roy. I thank you so much for your comments now, and on my earlier post about John in June…. I remember how moved you were by the Johnny Lobo song, and that helped to inspire me and include it here. Peace to you and all, Roy.

    • Your welcome. You may not directly know about him, although you would probably know of important events of the 70’s that John Trudell was involved with – The 18 month occupation on Alcatraz by the Tribes of All Nations the Wounded Knee occupation. His music and poems are very powerful.

  3. Saw a documentary about him and the Alcatraz Island protest. Was that you who posted that a while ago? Don’t know how many people are aware of his life and work. Sharing this on Facebook.

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