Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means dead at 72

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Russell Means never shunned attention. Whether leading Native Americans in railing against broken federal treaties, appearing in a Hollywood blockbuster or advocating a sovereign American Indian nation within U.S. borders, the activist who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee reveled in the spotlight.
But it was only on his terms. Openly critical of mainstream media, the onetime leader of the American Indian Movement often refused interviews and verbally blasted journalists who showed up to cover his public appearances. Instead, he chose to speak to his fan base through YouTube videos and blog posts on his personal website.
When he did speak out publicly, he remained steadfast in his defense of AIM. He found himself dogged for decades by questions about the group's alleged involvement in the slaying of a tribe member and the several gun battles with federal officers during the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee, but denied the group ever promoted violence.

Means, who announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer but told The Associated Press he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies, died early Monday at his ranch in in Porcupine, S.D., Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said. He was 72.


Brock Townsend said...

Damn, what a shame. Posted.

Struan Robertson said...

I knew Banks, Means & Bellecourt peripherally & briefly. Means & Banks were committed men that gave moderns a small idea of what it must've been like to deal with Indian warriors a century ago. Bellecourt should've been named 'Blue Duck" & treated accordingly.

Glenn B said...

I met him many years ago when I worked for the Customs Service, I am pretty sure it was in the mid to late 1980's. I was tasked with doing a Customs stop on him or someone he was meeting - I forget which for sure but I did speak to him. (I think he was coming in to the US from abroad if I remember right.) I interviewed him and kept it very brief because I pretty much figured stopping him was a political thing but I had to deal with it and so did he. I explained what was going on to him in honest terms, told him I hated to bother him which was true, I was polite, courteous, professional and fairly sympathetic to his cause. That was until that, in my opinion, racist motherfucker opened his mouth. He can roast in hell for all I care. I think he was everything he claimed to fight against as far as racism goes. That is except he was from a different race than the one he seemingly hated and that he claimed was his peoples' oppressor. In addition, I thought he was crude, rude, unpolite and a downright nasty motherfucker. Of course, maybe he was having a bad day but something tells me that was his normal way - it seemingly all just came to naturally for him.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wild Cookery! said...

This just sucks beyond words. He started something amazing with the Lakota Nation, and tried to get the govt to honor it's treaties with his people.

Stuart said...

I grew up on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona and I remember this asshole very well. He was nothing but a criminal with a cause and never did a single bit of good for native Americans.

Struan Robertson said...

Glenn B - No personal criticism of you or defense of Means but I ain't exactly Mr. Personality dealing w/Customs officials world wide either. They're in my face, in my shit, and tryin' to get in my pocket. Most are small-time bureaucrat grifters. I once had to surrender a pack of Marlboro's to get out of Mexico. I could do a blog on the subject. Worst ever? A tie between Hawaii & the Canucks with an extra special fuck you to the Qubecois cocksuckers. Best - Malta - they don't give a shit what you bring or what you take. Rant over.

wirecutter said...

I don't know a thing about Mr. Means other than he took on the government with his movement.
Never heard a thing about his private life before this.

Brock Townsend said...

My friend, an American Indian, as he says no one calls themselves *"Native Americans" on the reservation, thinks highly of him.

*PC designation, if there ever was one.