Russell Means Walks On

Today marks the passing of a modern day warrior for the American Indian people:  Russell Means. He has been probably the most uniting voice of social justice for American Indians everywhere.

Oglala Sioux in heritage, Means was a political activist, a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), an actor, a recording artist, an author, a father, a friend, a traditional Lakota, and so much more.

Means fought lifelong against injustices and unfair treatment of indigenous people. Amid his “theatrical protests that brought national attention to poverty and discrimination suffered by his people, he became arguably the nation’s best-known Indian since Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse,” suggests the”New York Times.

Perhaps the most memorable activism of Russell Means was leading the AIM upraising at Wounded Knee in 1973. Then, more than a century after the US government’s forced reservation system, Pine Ridge tribal members were fed up with the continuing oppressive treatment of the tribe (and all tribes). And the government’s acts were still veiled, unknown by the world.

With Means’ involvement, the Wounded Knee uprising started getting national attention. The government quickly responded by banning the media – an effort thwarted by Marlon Brando who alerted the world through a spokesperson at a highly televised Academy Awards program.

Over a period of 30 years, Means played in about 30 films. Perhaps the most memorable film of Russell Means was Last of the Mohicans. He was the voice of Chief Powhatan in Disney’s 1995 film Pocahontas. See also Russell Means filmography. In 1995, Means also published his autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has issued a proclamation to officially recognize the lifelong accomplishments, dedication, and patriotism of Russell Means. President John Yellow Bird Steele declared June 26, 2012 as Russell Means Day.

In behalf of National Relief Charities, we wish to acknowledge the critical contributions that Russell Means made to all peoples and to social justice, and to say to his family and the Oglala Sioux Nation that he will always be remembered.

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