An author, political activist, performer, and former Chairman of the American Indian Movement, he is best known for Lines From a Mined Mind: The Words of John Trudell, an extensive collection of his essays, poetry, and song lyrics.
He was raised in Nebraska by a Mexican mother and a Santee Sioux father. He dropped out of high school at age seventeen to join the U.S. Navy.
He became involved in Native American activism in 1969, when he served as spokesperson for an occupation of Alcatraz Island that was orchestrated by the United Indians of All Tribes.
His wife and three children died tragically in a 1979 fire on a Nevada Indian Reservation.
He went on tour with musician Peter Gabriel in 1993. During this tour, Trudell read his own poems and performed his traditional Native American songs.