Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means ~ An American Hero Remembered

"The one thing I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not politically correct. Everyone who's born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans."

I cannot even begin to cover the life of the amazing man that was Russell Means, but wish to impart a few words in respectful remembrance to a truly unique individual, who at the least no one could say was without strength and conviction as well as many incredible talents.

I first knew of Means from his excellent portrayal in film of powerful and noble Native American characters such as -  Chingachgook who IS the Last of the Mohicans as well as The Pathfinder in the lamentable Pathfinder and also the Older Running Fox in Into the West.

And while I greatly enjoyed those films, Means was an awful lot more. A civil rights activist, he co-founded AIM, the American Indian Movement, and he will forever be attached to Wounded Knee, where he led a 71 day armed takeover of those sacred grounds (as well as demonstrations at Plymouth Rock and Mount Rushmore). He continually led the fight against anti-Indian legislation and pushed for their rights “to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

I watched a documentary about Wounded Knee on PBS a couple years ago and was struck by Means charisma and devotion. If I could ever convey a fraction of that noble endeavor and drive in my writing that would be something.

His ongoing work for equality and justice never ended, he campaigned all his life. I watched quite a number of his discussions posted to facebook and now regret that I had not tuned in for some time. It was no coincidence that he was cast as the wise man in so many films.

He passed away this morning and now walks among his ancestors...

Now, I'm going to go watch Last of the Mohicans one more time.



Charles Gramlich said...

I certainly enjoyed his film work. Didn't know alot about him as a man.

David J. West said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to add in Charles, he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket back in 87.