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Native American Heritage Month: 'Trudell,' a Poem by Alex Jacobs

A poem by Alex Jacobs about the Santee Sioux activist John Trudell
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As part of our celebration of Native American Heritage Month, here's artist and poet Alex Jacobs' tribute to Santee Sioux activist, poet and musician John Trudell.


I know, I know, I been there

I feel it, I felt it, I been there

I’m scared; I’m scared of what I saw

Scared of what I felt, scared of my thoughts

Scared of knowledge, scared of wisdom

Scared of my ignorance, scared of my arrogance

I’m scared of my life

But I’m strong, strong for my son, strong for my daughter

I’m strong for my mom, she seen it all

I’m strong for my dad, worked himself to death

I’m strong for my loves, all these beautiful women

Who knew me better than I new my self.

I’m strong for my people, who have been captured, killed,

Put away, tortured, brainwashed, left out to dry.

Strong for my people who think I’m crazy

Strong for my people who can’t see the light no more

Strong for my people who fight every day

Strong for my people who will die far away from home

Strong for the sell-outs, the doubters, the vanished

The banished, the incarcerated, the cancerated, the polluted,

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The chronic, the addicted, the consumerated, the consumed.

I’m strong for the traditional, the rational, the practical, the political.

I’m strong for my people who have given up

I’m strong for my people who have been beaten down

I’m strong for my people who have turned their lives around

I’m strong for my people who only care about things

And turned their lives into GNPs CODs ATMs MFAs MBAs MIAs

Degrees of disconnection, financial portfolios instead of dreams,

Visions of power replaced by coercion, corruption and greed.

As long as the money flows and the casino tables are green

As long as they think history can never be repeated

As long as they never read the signs or open their eyes

Or listen to elders who hear the earth cry

As long as they allow their own children to become

Indoctrinated by a system that built on lies.

I want to be strong, strong again

I’m scared, scared for my life

But I’m strong, strong again

Thank you

Thank you, John…

Santa Fe 4/28/06, after viewing the Heather Rae documentary Trudell.

Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.