The following are excerpts from John Trudel’s Thanksgiving Day Address, made in 1980. Long, but powerful and a message sorely needed today.
“I’d like to thank all of you for coming here tonight and sharing this evening with us. And tonight I’d like to talk in honor of the water and the earth and our brother Leonard Peltier.
We’re faced with a very serious situation in this generation. There are insane people who wish to rule the world. They wish to continue to rule the world on violence and repression, and we are all the victims of that violence and repression.
We as the indigenous people of the western hemisphere have been resisting this oppression for 500 years. We know that the black people have been resisting it for at least that long. And we know that the white people have had to endure it thousands of years. And now it’s come full swing to this generation that we live in..
You see, this cannot be. We cannot allow this to go on. We cannot do it. We cannot expect that the pro-nuclear oppressor, that other side, we cannot expect that they’re going to change for us.
They are going to become more brutal. They are going to become more repressive because it’s a matter of dollars and their illusionary concepts of power.
We have to re-establish our identity. We have to understand who we are and where we fit in the natural order of the world, because our oppressor deals in illusions.
They tell us that it is power, but it is not power. They may have all the guns, and they may have all the racist laws and judges, and they may control all the money, but that is not power.
These are only imitations of power, and they are only power because in our minds we allow it to be power. But it’s all an imitation.
Racism and violence, racism and guns, economics- the brutality of the American Corporate State way of life is nothing more than violence and oppression and it doesn’t have anything to do with power.
It is brutality. It’s a lack of a sane balance. The people who have created this system, and who perpetuate this system, they are out of balance.
They have made us out of balance. They have come into our minds and they have come into our hearts and they’ve programmed us.
Because we live in this society, and it has put us out of balance. And because we are out of balance we no longer have the power to deal with them. They have conquered us as a natural power.
See, we are power. They deal in violence and repression, we are power. We are a part of the natural world.
All of the things in the natural world are a natural part of the creation and feed off the energy of our sacred mother, Earth.
We are power. But they have separated us from our spiritual connection to the Earth, so people feel powerless.
We look at the oppressor and we look at the enemy because they have the most guns and the most lies and the most money. People start to feel powerless.
We are power, we are a natural part of the creation, we were put here on the sacred mother Earth to serve a purpose. And somewhere in the history of people we’re forgetting what the purpose is.
The purpose is to honor the earth, the purpose is to protect the earth, the purpose is to live in balance with the earth. The earth is our mother.
And we will never free ourselves as human people, we will never free ourselves as sexual people, we will never free ourselves until we address the issue of how we live in balance with the earth.
Because all our resistance and all of our struggle is hollow, it’s false, it’s another one of the oppressor’s hypocrisies. If we do not look out for the welfare of the Earth first, because I don’t care who it is, any child who turns on their mother is living in a terrible, terrible confusion.
The Earth is our mother, we must take care of the Earth.
They pollute- this oppressor, this machine that has gone mad and run amok, it is beserk. They keep telling us, “progress.” They keep telling us “face reality.”
Well, let’s deal with reality. Reality is the Earth can no longer take this attack. We can no longer allow this thing to continue when it’s polluting the air, it’s polluting the water, polluting our food.
They pollute the air, they pollute the water, they pollute our food, they pollute our minds. They put us out of balance.
They have made us be insecure with ourselves. They have put us into a situation where we have to play many roles.
You know, we gotta be chauvinist, or we’ve got to be on some kind of a class trip, or some kind of illusionary power trip.
We’ve gotta play a role, see? We’ve gotta play a role to communicate with other people. We’ve got to go through this charade because they have attacked our self confidence.
They have attacked our self confidence and they have made us to listen to *them.* They have made us to believe that they are power. But they are not- they are violent and they are brutal, but they are not power.
We are a natural part of the earth. As a natural part of the Earth, we have the energy and the power that IS the Earth. The Earth will take care of us if we will remember the Earth- in more than just our words.
If we will remember the Earth in our way of life; we are all here to play a role. And all of the animals, and all of the life on the earth is playing it’s proper role except the human people.
Somehow we are betraying, we are betraying our purpose here and that is why we live in the confusion that we live in. They tell us, they want us to believe, that we are powerless.
We are a natural part of the earth, we are an extension of that natural energy. The natural energy which is Spirit, and which is power.
A blizzard is power. An earthquake is power. A tornado is power. These are all things of power that no oppressor, no machine age, can put these things of power in a prison.
No machine age can make these things of power submit… That is natural power.
And just as it takes millions and billions of elements to make a blizzard to happen, or to make the earthquake, to make the earth to move, then it’s going to take millions and billions of us.
We are power. We have that power. We have the potential for that power.
I remember in the 60s and 70s I heard all these things about “power to the people” and I never really understood because everyone was saying “power to the people” when they were talking about demonstrating, they were talking about votes, they were talking about dealing on the terms of the oppressor.
Our power will come back to us, our sense of balance will come back to us, when we go back to the natural way of protecting and honoring the earth.
If we have forgotten how to do it, or we think that it looks overwhelming, or think that we can never accomplish it, all we have to do, each one of us, an individual, is to go and find one spot on the Earth that we can relate to.
Feel that energy, feel that power. That’s where our safety will come.
The Earth will take care of us. We have to understand that the American Corporate State will not take care of us.
They do not care about us. Maximize their profit, that is where their whole life’s balance is placed upon- maximizing the profit. They will turn us against each other to maximize the profit, because they have done it in the past…
Our obligations and our loyalty have to be to the Earth, and they have to be to our sense of community and to our people and our relations.
Our obligations and loyalty should not be to a government that will not take care of our needs.
Our obligations and loyalty should not be to a government that has proven time and time again that it is the enemy of the people unless the people are rich in dollars.
That has been the consistent history of Western civilization and the American Corporate State Government- that’s reality. They are not our friends, they do not care about us. We have to face the reality that we have an enemy…
We have to come to a time in our lifetime- and it will come in our lifetime- where we are going to have to deal with the fact that the enemy has taken over your government.
The government is not your ally. The government will use you, chew you up and spit you out.
You think that we are wrong? You think that we are talking unrealistically? Then go look at your elders and see what has happened to your elders in your machine age society.
See what kind of respect that they get. See what kind of a voice they are allowed into your society, what kind of input they have.
See what their final reward of happiness is after working for this slave state for 30 or 40 years and allowing someone to exploit their labors.
What is racism? Racism is an act of war. What is sexism? Sexism is an act of war. It’s a war against our human dignity and our rights to self respect.
This is the war that they wage there. War! They are war-like. And we have to understand that the American Corporate State got to where it’s at through the act of war.
For 500 years my people have resisted. For 500 years we will resist again if it becomes necessary.
We want to be able to relate and communicate with all of the people who are living on this land, but we want to be able to relate and communicate from a position of truth.
You all gotta face the truth. We have had to face it through 500 years of genocide, we have had to face the truth, we have had to live the truth. We have had to die the truth.
Before we’re gonna ever see our evolutionary liberation, the people that call themselves Americans are gonna have to face the truth also.
They tell us to “be realistic,” that “progress” means that all these things have to happen. They tell us that we can’t go back to the old way.
They tell us “be realistic.” But there is no old way, no new way, there is a way of life. We must live in balance with the earth. We MUST do it. We have no choice.
If we allow ourselves to be apathetic, or we allow ourselves to be lied to, or tolerate their lies about what they’re doing to the earth, then we are betraying our intention.
We are betraying our purpose here. We cannot protect that 7th generation if we do not protect the earth. We cannot protect ourselves if we do not protect the earth.
The Earth gives us life, not the American government. The earth gives us life, not the multi-national corporate government.
The Earth gives us life, we need to have the Earth. We must have it, otherwise our life will be no more. So we must resist what they do.
They want to break our spirit. They will do everything and anything to break our spirit, our will to live. We must learn to resist, we must learn to see, we must learn to look.
We must learn to step out of this reactionary-ism. All of our lives they’ve had control of us through their schools, their TV, their electronic media.
They’ve had control of us all of our lives. They have programmed us, they have made us become reactionary. We don’t think, we react to what they do.
To everything that they do- we react to it. They’re setting us up in the 80’s because they know consistently throughout the past the people have always reacted to their manipulations of circumstance.
They know that the people always react. They’re counting on it..
See, and they outnumber us with guns, They outnumber us with money. They outnumber us with votes.
They control all the machines that count the votes. They’ve got it all stacked in their favor. Except there’s a key. The key is we must start thinking, and stop reacting.
The oppressor has no thinkers, they have no philosophers, it’s all scientific, it’s all economic, it’s all manipulative. They have no thinkers.
You go look and you deal with the enemy and what the enemy does is: the enemy will send somebody out on the street to hit you in the head and the guy says “I’m only taking my orders.”
And if you can come from a position of strength to this guy whose hitting you in the head and say “Hey, you’ve got to stop hitting me in the head, we want to talk.”
Then he says “Well I have to go to my superior to see.” They have no thinkers, either.
If we will start to think we will learn to see, to see what reality really is, and we will outnumber them through the thinking process.
We will take our minds away from them. Because through their manipulation of our minds they control our spirit, and they know this is true.
They tell us, see, they want us to believe that we are powerless. They want us to believe that we are becoming overwhelmed, that they can overwhelm us.
You see, but they are paranoid. They are more paranoid than any of us are, no matter what happens to us. You see, because they have to put people in here to come and listen to what we’re saying, so they can go back and tell.
See, so they’re afraid! They’re afraid because they know we’re talking about reality! Now why are they afraid?
They are afraid because they know they are dealing with the illusions of power which are based on the realities of violence and brutality.
They’re afraid! See, they don’t want people to think, they don’t want people to be talking, and they don’t want people to think about what they talk about.
Because they know. They’ve known it all along, that they built their whole THING on illusions.
And because they have drawn us in to giving this illusionary world all this power, they have taken our power away from us. Because we believe in the illusions.“
– John Trudel (February 15, 1946 – December 8, 2015) was a Native American author, poet, actor, musician, and political activist. He was the spokesperson for the United Indians of All Tribes’ takeover of Alcatraz beginning in 1969. During most of the 1970s, he served as the chairman of the American Indian Movement, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After his pregnant wife, three children and mother-in-law were killed in 1979 in a suspicious fire at the home of his parents-in-law on the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada, Trudell turned to writing, music and film as a second career.”