American Indian activist Russell Means dies

Russell Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux, writer, actor and activist who the New York Times says helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests, has died at 72. He was tried in Minnesota after a violent 71-day standoff with federal agents in 1973 at Wounded Knee, S.D.
Author:
Publish date:

Russell Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux who, as the New York Times writes, "helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests," has died. He was 72.

Means captured headlines when he and fellow protest leader Dennis Banks were charged with assault, larceny and conspiracy in a violent 1973 uprising and armed occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., the Associated Press reports. But after a long federal trial in Minnesota in 1974, a judge dismissed the case for prosecutorial misconduct, the AP notes.

Means last year said he had inoperable throat cancer, the Associated Press reports.

His website notes that the Los Angeles Times has called him the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Means was an early leader of American Indian Movement, the AP reports. Means later wrote that with AIM he vowed to "get in the white man's face until he gave me and my people our just due," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among his long and varied career, Means also ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988. Among his many acting roles, he is remembered for his turn as chief Chingachgook in the 1992 movie "The Last of the Mohicans."

Here's a 2009 interview in which he talks about living on a reservation in the poorest county in the nation:

Next Up

Related

First of its kind report details bleak experiences of Minnesota's American Indian prostitutes

Nearly all of the American Indian women who wind up in the sex trade entered into it through a deception. Report interviewer Guadelupe Lopez says 'being asked by your boyfriend to sleep with three other guys is just a part of life.' From there its a life of violence, drug abuse and homelessness. American Indian women make up a disproportionately large percentage of women on probation for prostitution.