Russell Charles Means (1939 - 2012)
Russell Means dies of esophageal cancer at the age of 72
With sadness from all followers of spirit, defenders of freedom, and fighters for human rights, a fellow soul, Russell Means, the Native American leader, hero, patriot, and visionary, has died. Mr. Means encouraged and uplifted others to not give up the struggle for beauty, strength, wisdom, and love.
Russell Means has lived a life like few others in this century - revered for his selfless accomplishments and remarkable bravery. He was born into a society and guided by way of life that gently denies the self in order to promote the survival and betterment of family and community. His culture is driven by tradition, which at once links the past to the present.
The L.A. Times and N.Y. Times have called him the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. His indomitable sense of pride and leadership has become embedded in our national character.
In 1973, reflecting the consciousness of the sixties, he captured national attention when he led the 71-day armed takeover on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee, a tiny hamlet in the heart of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. Means joined The Longest Walk in 1978 to protest a new tide of anti-Indian legislation including the forced sterilization of Indian women. Following the walk, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution saying that national policy was to protect the rights of Indians, to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.
His obstacles and struggles were many, but he never gave up. Besides being stabbed in prison, The New York Times said, "Mr. Means also survived several gunshots - one in the abdomen fired during a scuffle with an Indian Affairs police officer in North Dakota in 1975, one that grazed his forehead in what he called a drive-by assassination attempt on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975, and one in the chest fired by another would-be assassin on another South Dakota reservation in 1976".
LRI Tribute to Russell Means Today Oct.22, 2012 the indigenous world has lost a visionary in Russell Means.
Russell Means & Dennis Banks, Occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973