American Indian Activist Russell Means Dies at 72
Means’ most infamous political protest was the Wounded Knee incident, a 71-day standoff which resulted in the death of two Indian protesters and a federal agent being paralyzed. He was arrested for his involvement at Wounded Knee and faced charges of assault, larceny, and conspiracy that were eventually dismissed.
Means went on to face numerous court battles which eventually led to his one year imprisonment in 1979. He would also survive numerous attempts on his life, being shot once in the head and in the abdomen on separate occasions. In 1983, he brought a $9 million lawsuit against Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, stating that their Chief Wahoo mascot, which Means called racist and demeaning. The case was settled out of court for $35,000.
In 1984, Means served as Vice Presidential candidate as he joined Larry Flynt in seeking the Republican nomination. The two eventually lost and Means would later seek the Presidential nomination from the Libertarian Party in 1987, losing to Congressman Ron Paul.
After his retirement from AIM in 1988, Means turned to acting, appearing in over 30 films, most notably, 1992′s The Last of the Mohicans. In 1995 he published Where White Men Fear to Tread, an autobiography that drew national criticism from indigenous leaders who claimed Means was seeking celebrity from their plight.
Russell Means was a great activist who paved for the rights for indigenous people everywhere, and fought for civil liberties for all. Means is survived by his wife, Pearl Daniels and his nine children. Read more about Russell Means’ life in politics and activism here.