Long live Russell Means! Wounded Knee warrior dies at age 72

Long Live Russell Means!
Wounded Knee Warrior Dies at Age 72
 
Born November 10, 1939 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Russell Means lived a life of service to his people, the Oglala Lakota (“Sioux”) and to all oppressed, colonized people.
 
He rose to prominence as the first national director of the American Indian Movement.
 
In 1973, he led a people's occupation of Wounded Knee, site of the infamous 1890 U.S. army massacre of 350 men, women and children and the assassination of Chief Big Foot.
 
The aims of the protest and occupation were to stop the "oppression, repression and suppression at the hands of the federal government's puppet tribal government. Women and girls had been raped. Men jailed. Money and valuables extorted. Homes firebombed…" (russellmeans.com). 
 
The tribal governments, made up of neocolonial stooges working for the Feds, were running rampant as they carried out their mercenary role of managing and enforcing the illegitimate U.S. occupation of the Indigenous people's land.
 
The people occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days, enduring three blizzards, the deaths of two comrades by FBI sniper fire and about six hundred arrests as the FBI attempted to crush the resistance.
 
The protesters were demanding the enforcement of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty guaranteeing Lakota territories and sovereignty, Senate investigations of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for corruption and free and fair elections on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
 
The siege ended with promises by the U.S. government, promises which were later broken, as usual. 
 
However, the impact of the stand at Wounded Knee was summed up by Means:
 
"During the siege at Wounded Knee the American Indians of North America began feeling a resurgence of dignity and pride – an immeasurable benefit that continues to this very day. Not only in North America but throughout Central and South America as well, the tiny spark of ancestral pride grew into a flame that has now spread through the entire hemisphere. American Indian people – from virtually every Indian nation in the Americas – now are demanding that the only color of people in the human race currently not allowed to sit at the table of the family on nations be recognized and respected." (russellmeans.com)
 
The stand also exposed the corruption and brutality of the U.S. government for the world to see, as the event received extensive media coverage.
 
Russell Means continued his activism through organizing many more campaigns and demonstrations, participating in international conferences on Indigenous peoples' rights and making a bid for the U.S. presidency, among a plethora of activities too numerous to mention here. 
 
Charismatic and multi-talented, he gained fame as a film actor, retaining his integrity by selecting roles portraying the Native people in a positive light.
 
He was also an author, musician and artist, and was active in promoting "Immersion Education" programs in which Indigenous children are educated within their own cultural traditions.
 
Russell Means died on October 22, 2012 at Porcupine, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 
 
He fought for freedom.
 
Long Live Russell Means!
 
Victory to the Lakota People and all Indigenous People!
 
Below is a letter written by Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist, political prisoner and prisoner of war, on the death of Russell Means.
 

 
Leonard's Statement for Russell Means
By Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
Censored News
Oct. 22, 2012
 
Greetings my relatives and friends.
 
I wish I was there to talk with you in person and share with you the sorrow that I feel with the passing of Russell Means, my brother, my friend and inspiration on many levels.
 
Russell Means will always be an icon whenever the American Indian Movement is spoken of and whenever people talk about the changes that took place, the changes that are taking place now for Indian people.
 
One thing about Russell I always remembered, and I think someone else once said it, you may have loved him, or you may have disliked him, but you couldn't ignore him. 
 
I'll always remember when an elder said one time, I was at a ceremony and I asked what this half shaped moon circle on the ground meant, and he said it was a symbol of the circle of life, the never ending of the circle of life, and I said there is only half a circle, and he said the other half was unseen, it is the spirit world. 
 
For Indian people it never ends, we don't have a linear existence, so I know I will see Russell again, and I take comfort in that thought.
 
For men like Russell Means don't come along in a lifetime very often.
 
He was truly an inspiration for all of us younger guys at the time. 
 
He had good words to say, he was eloquent when he spoke them, and he spoke English as clearly and precisely and as articulate as any one I have ever heard speak.
 
 And he knew what he was talking about. 
 
And I know all of you out there as well as myself, will always remember our friend, our brother and fellow activist, and how he stood with us to recapture the freedoms we've lost, and protect the ones that we still have , and bring about a better future for our people, and all people of this Mother Earth, whose nature is in peril.
 
I really don't know what else to say about our brother Russell, other than to Russell himself, "We'll see you again my brother Russell, in some other time and in some other place, we will always be your friend, and we will always look forward to seeing your face. Mitakuye Oyasin."
 
In the spirit of Crazy Horse, and Russell Means.
I'll close for now.
 

Leonard Peltier

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