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Trudell shines in “Lines from a Mined Mind”
Feb 25th, 2010

Lines from a Mined Mind, The Words of John Trudell
    Last night in a dream
    I interrogated god

writes John Trudell in his poem Reason to This.

    Why is it that the good die young
    What’s the reason to this?     

In this poem from his stirring collection, Lines from a Mined Mind, the noted activist relates that

    We talked we argued, we cried
    I never did get any answers
    But god knows I tried.

John Trudell shares his wrestlings with a higher power and the result is a dynamic book.

Trudell tries to make sense of relationships, environmental angst, racial injustice, family ties and cultural preservation, filling the pages of this intriguing book. Blending songs and poems into thought-provoking pieces of Trudell’s inner life allows readers to enter into the issues that face Native America, Mother Earth and individuals from diverse walks of life.

John Trudell masterfully incorporates vivid imagery, powerful symbolism, intriguing historical and social incidents, cultural aspects and spiritual themes into his pieces. As a result, the words in this book come across its pages with strong impact, which enlightens the reader. Further, Trudell uses beats and meter in each verse with alacrity, which engages the reader. Lines from a Mined Mind transmits truths through Trudell’s sincerity and transparency.

Achingly, John Trudell laments the eradication of Native American spirituality in To God saying

    Representatives spoke magnificent things
    Of you which we were willing to believe
    But from the way they acted
    We know you and we were being deceived

In Blue Indians, John Trudell describes

    Blue Indians being pulled into melting pots
    Grueling class rules the haves and have-nots
    Industrial reservations tyranny stakes its claim
    Blue Indians emotional siege in civilized stain.

    Rich Men keep living off the poor

sings John Trudell in Rant ‘n’ Roll as he claims,

    The soul is what’s left after they eat your spirit
    When every act is an act of self-defense
    We have to do something or perish in the pretense

In addition to his admonitions concerning social conditions, John Trudell also celebrates the blessings and feelings of his own life. Little Daughter records the pleasures of parenting as

                             the times I hold
    You next to me I am flowing
    An infinity of love to fill the times
    I cannot hold you next to me

    Men don’t cry
    Indians are stoic

asserts John Trudell in Tears of Salt during a reflection on release and emotions,

    I tell that to my heart
    To my eyes
    They just laugh at me
    And sometimes
    When my spirit hurts
    They make me cry

Frequently, the author recounts the passions and romance that characterize his own life as he does in Such a Fine Day when he triumphs,

    Such a fine day
    Woman in a T-shirt walking down the street
    Some women need silks and diamonds
    Some women need furs and limos
    Some women need to turn cosmetics
    Some women have just what they need

Lines from a Mined Mind shows the special inner workings of a unique and creative mind. The Santee Sioux activist and artist shares the circumstances of reservation and urban Native life, specifics of environmental and political crisis and the value of traditions and heritage in this collection of potent words and phrases. John Trudell has composed colorful pieces that effectively carry emotions and information to readers and to listeners.

Book info: Lines from a Mined Mind: The Words of John Trudell. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2008, 270 pages, ISBN#: 978-1-55591-678-7.

Dr. Honey Dawn Karima Pettrigrew, Ph.D is the author of two novels, The Way We Make Sense and The Marriage of Saints. She is an award-winning filmmaker and resides in the Yellowhill Community.

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