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American Indian Activist, Poet John Trudell Dies At 69

(AP) - John Trudell, a poet and actor who spoke for American Indian protesters during the 1969 Alcatraz Island occupation and later headed the American Indian Movement, has died. He was 69.

A trustee of Trudell's estate, Cree Miller, says he died of cancer on Tuesday at his home in Santa Clara County in Northern California.

Born to a Sioux father in Nebraska, Trudell joined protesters who took over Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay to demand the former federal prison be given to Native Americans under treaty rights.

During the 19-month takeover, Trudell was a spokesman and ran a radio broadcast called Radio Free Alcatraz.

He went on to serve as national chairman of the activist American Indian Movement from 1973 to 1979, the year his pregnant wife, three children and mother-in-law died in an Arizona fire. Trudell long suspected government involvement in the fire.

Trudell later made spoken-word albums and appeared in the movie "Thunderheart."