Means, Russell

Means, Russell,

1939–2012, Native American activist, b. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.Dak. An Oglala Sioux, he grew up near San Francisco, and attended four colleges but never graduated. He joined the American Indian MovementAmerican Indian Movement
(AIM), Native American civil-rights activist organization, founded in 1968 to encourage self-determination among Native Americans and to establish international recognition of their treaty rights.
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, a civil-rights group, and became (1970) its national director. Means organized a number of events aimed at drawing public attention to the inequities suffered by Native Americans and to the abrogation of their treaty rights. The best known of these was the 71-day armed occupation of Wounded KneeWounded Knee,
creek, rising in SW S.Dak. and flowing NW to the White River; site of the last major battle of the Indian wars. After the death of Sitting Bull, a band of Sioux, led by Big Foot, fled into the badlands, where they were captured by the 7th Cavalry on Dec.
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, S.Dak., in 1973. He later had a brief film acting career, playing Chingachgook in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), appearing in Natural Born Killers (1994), and voicing a character in Pocahontas (1995).

Bibliography

See his memoir, Where White Men Fear to Tread (with M. J. Wolf, 1995).

Means, Russell

(1939–  ) Oglala Sioux activist; born in Pine Ridge, S.D. In Cleveland (1970) he founded the second chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM). His flair for guerrilla theater, including the seizure of the Mayflower II on Thanksgiving (1970) and the Trail of Broken Treaties (1972), helped bring AIM to national attention. In response to clashes between police and AIM supporters in South Dakota, he and 200 followers seized control of Wounded Knee (1973) for 71 days. In 1974 he was defeated in a runoff election by Richard Wilson for the Sioux Tribal Council presidency; although two federal probes sustained charges of threats, bribery, and ballot-stuffing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to order a new election. He continued his calls for action at places such as the Black Hills and the Custer Battlefield National Monument. In 1992 he appeared in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans.