Native American Activist Russell Means Dies At 72

A man whose life — including radical 1960s activism ending in an armed standoff with the government, Hollywood stardom, and bizarre forays into electoral politics — wove through so many key aspects of twentieth century America. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement activist who helped lead a 1973 uprising against the U.S. government and appeared in several Hollywood films, died Monday [...] at his ranch in South Dakota, Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said.

Mr. Means led AIM’s armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gunfights with federal officers. AIM was founded in the late 1960s to protest the government’s treatment of Native Americans and demand the government honor its treaties with Indian tribes.

Mr. Means in 2011 said that before AIM, there had been no advocate on a national or international scale for American Indians and that Native Americans were ashamed of their heritage. “No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry,” Mr. Means said. “That’s all changed.”

Mr. Means was also known for his role in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” and for his unsuccessful run for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988 [...] and vice-presidential candidate in 1984, joining the Larry Flynt ticket during the Hustler magazine publisher’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination. He also appeared in the 1994 film “Natural Born Killers,” voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film “Pocahontas.”

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