O’siyo. Russell Means, a member of the Oglala Sioux crossed over at the age of 72, on Monday October 22, 2012. He was an Activist, Writer, and Actor. Some Natives claimed he caused trouble for American Indians and compared him to Old Man Coyote or the Trickster. Others worshipped him as a Warrior who drew national attention to the injustices suffered by American Indians. Either way, Russell Means is an historic figure who will be remembered by all.
Excerpt: Russell Means, Who Revived Warrior Image of American Indian, Dies at 72, By Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times
“Russell C. Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux who helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests that called attention to the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Monday at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72. The cause was esophageal cancer, which had spread recently to his tongue, lymph nodes and lungs, said Glenn Morris, Mr. Means’s legal representative. Told in the summer of 2011 that the cancer was inoperable, Mr. Means had already resolved to shun mainstream medical treatments in favor of herbal and other native remedies…Mr. Means was, by his own account, a magnet for trouble — addicted to drugs and alcohol in his early years, and later arrested repeatedly in violent clashes with rivals and the law. He was tried for abetting a murder, shot several times, stabbed once and imprisoned for a year for rioting.
He styled himself a throwback to ancestors who resisted the westward expansion of the American frontier. With 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 and Crazy Horse.
But critics, including many Native Americans, called him a tireless self-promoter who capitalized on his angry-rebel notoriety by running quixotic races for the presidency and the governorship of New Mexico, by acting in dozens of movies — notably in the title role of “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) — and by writing and recording music commercially with Indian warrior and heritage themes.
He rose to national attention as a leader of the American Indian Movement in 1970 by directing a band of Indian protesters who seized the Mayflower II ship replica at Plymouth, Mass., on Thanksgiving Day. The boisterous confrontation between Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” attracted network television coverage and made Mr. Means an overnight hero to dissident Indians and sympathetic whites…Russell Charles Means was born on the Pine Ridge reservation on Nov. 10, 1939, the oldest of four sons of Harold and Theodora Feather Means…Russell attended public schools in Vallejo and San Leandro High School, where he faced racial taunts, had poor grades and barely graduated in 1958. He drifted into delinquency, drugs, alcoholism and street fights. He also attended four colleges, including Arizona State at Tempe, but did not earn a degree…Mr. Means retired from the American Indian Movement in 1988, but its leaders, with whom he had feuded for years, scoffed, saying he had “retired” six times previously.
They generally disowned him and his work, calling him an opportunist out for political and financial gain. In 1989, he told Congress that there was “rampant graft and corruption” in tribal governments and federal programs assisting Native Americans…”