RIP Russell Means


8 Years
Jan 27, 2011
North Alabama
Today Oglala Native rights activist, author and actor, Russell Means lost his battle with cancer in his home on Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the poorest reservations in the US.

He was active in Indigenous rights and fought for a better life for his impoverished and oppressed people. When He began, it was still illegal in the US for Native People to practice their tribal religions, forced sterilization was common, and removing native children to be raised in white schools and homes was considered a cure for "Savageness"

Because some of his activities several land mark Native rights laws were passed in the 1970's. He never stopped fighting for Native people, even when his cancer began to take its toll.

A loosely translated commonly said Prayer (I believe, anyway) from the Lakota Language, the language he spoke:

"Aho Mitakuye Oyasin....All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today. I am grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge you in this prayer....
To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.
To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.
To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.
To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.
To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.
To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.
To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.
You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery.
Thank you for this Life."
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man..... I only knew of him as an actor in Last of the Mohicans.... sad to know they lost someone who fought for the native people.
Very sad indeed.He was a good person.
He wasn't a perfect person. He was strong willed and had a tumultuous personal life and had a history of being controversial and militant. But according to some friends who were close to him (I only met the man briefly) he was dedicated to human rights and a loyal friend. Also growing in a place where there was no economy nor industry, (over 90 percent of unemployment is on pine ridge to this day) and a near destruction of traditions and religious beliefs due to assimilation and genocide, and the destruction of the traditional family unit (Indian schools were one of the biggest causes for this in modern times), his extremism in the beginning was hardly surprising.

If it were not for some of his activities and the Indian rights movement that he helped organize, which eventually lead to the stand off at wounded knee in 1973 where two were killed. (followed by an explosion of Indian rights protests) The native religious rights act would not have been passed in the mid 1970's and may still not be passed. Many Indian schools may never had been closed (The last and one of the most infamous was closed in 1992) and forced sterilization of native women may still be happening (The last documented case was in the 1970's)

In other words my mother may have had to do what what my grandparents did. She may have had to raise us to lie, hide our religion, and live in fear we would be taken from our home.

His actions along with many others brought attention to modern day oppression. He helped groups organize programs that are now in place to bring the youth better education, restore cultural traditions and prides, working against drugs and alcohol that runs rampant in any impoverished culture in turmoil, and supporting programs that aid in bringing in counseling (Native Women have the highest rates of rape and domestic abuse of any race in the US), suicide prevention (Native youth have the highest suicide rate of any race in the US), doctors, and dentists.

He like many others of his generation have set a change in the tides to help restore the many Native cultures that are struggling to survive
I too had a brief chance to meet him in Denver. The house next to mine was the AIM office for Denver. I have some native blood, but my family hid it for years. I have lived and worked in the Rio Grande pueblos and can attest to the poverty and abuse that happens when pride is taken away. He may not have been the most sensitive man, but he did what needed to be done. Thanks to him many native people have a much better life. I love the prayer you posted. It is a prayer that I use daily. Thanks, Kristy.
He will be missed. I have a great respect for all life thanks to the two years I spent on a reservation when I was a young child. Never judge but fight for what you believe in.

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