Means passed to the Spirit World on Monday with the Morning Star at 4:44 am, at home in Porcupine, South Dakota, on Pine Ridge, surrounded by his wife Pearl, family and friends.
From tackling the BIA superintendent on the Navajo Nation during a citizen’s arrest, to leading the Columbus Day protests in Denver, to demanding that the Lewis and Clark Expedition leave South Dakota, to the formation of the Lakotah Republic in his homeland, Means was a symbol of the bold fearlessness of the American Indian Movement.
Whether he was facing off with BIA officials in Washington, or confronting them on the Stronghold in the Badlands where Lakotas fled after the Massacre of Wounded Knee, Means symbolized the AIM stance of never backing down.
Means fight for human rights extended beyond the Occupation of Wounded Knee and the US borders, to solidarity with Palestine. Although Means was hospitalized with cancer and unable to speak at the recent Russell Tribunal on Palestine in New York, his stance was clear. Means said what is happening now to Palestinians is what happened to American Indians. “Every policy now the Palestinians are enduring was practiced on the American Indian,” Means said in an interview.
“What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of Europe.”
When Bolivian President Evo Morales took the lead in global climate talks, the defense of Mother Earth, and upholding the Rights of Nature, Means said, “This is what tribal councils should be doing.”
During his lifetime of fighting for justice, Means demanded that the US honor treaties and return stolen lands. He said the only people who get ahead are those who sell out to the colonial system. He said the United States does not want to be reminded of the smallpox blankets, theft, colonialism and mistreatment of the American Indian. Further, he said most Americans do not realize that the financial collapse of this country is only beginning. Americans cannot continue the lifestyles of consumers when there is no money.
Means said Indian lands have become open air concentration camps. “If you chose to stay on the reservation, you are guaranteed to be poor, unless you are part of the colonial apparatus set up by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, set up the United States,” he said.
On Indian lands, everyone fights to be part of the tribal governments because that is where the money is. Everyone fights to be part of the colonial system. “The only way you can be part of the colonial system is to obey.”
“Our grandmother the Mother Earth is tired of the human race.”
Leonard Peltier released this statement:
I wish I was there to talk with you in person and share with you the sorrow that I feel with the passing of Russell Means, my brother, my friend, and inspiration on many levels. Russell Means will always be an icon whenever the American Indian Movement is spoken of and whenever people talk about the changes that took place, the changes that are taking place now for Indian people.
One thing about Russell I always remembered, and I think someone else once said it, you may have loved him, or you may have disliked him, but you couldn’t ignore him. I’ll always remember when an elder said one time, I was at a ceremony and I asked what this half shaped moon circle on the ground meant, and he said it was a symbol of the circle of life, the never ending of the circle of life, and I said there is only half a circle, and he said the other half was unseen, it is the spirit world. For Indian people it never ends, we don’t have a linear existence, so I know I will see Russell again, and I take comfort in that thought. For men like Russell Means don’t come along in a lifetime very often. He was truly an inspiration for all of us younger guys at the time. He had good words to say, he was eloquent when he spoke them, and he spoke English as clearly and precisely and as articulate as any one I have ever heard speak. And he knew what he was talking about. And I know all of you out there, as well as myself, will always remember our friend, our brother and fellow activist, and how he stood with us to recapture the freedoms we’ve lost, and protect the ones that we still have, and bring about a better future for our people, and all people of this Mother Earth, who’s nature is in peril.
I really don’t know what else to say about our brother Russell, other than to Russell himself, “We’ll see you again my brother Russell, in some other time and in some other place, we will always be your friend, and we will always look forward to seeing your face. Mitakuye Oyasin.”
In the spirit of Crazy Horse, and Russell Means.
I’ll close for now. Leonard Peltier
The family of Russell Means invited others to celebrate his life:
The family of Russell Means invites you to join us in “Honoring the Life of Russell Means.” The honoring will highlight his life, leadership and the eternal fire that he re-ignited throughout Indian Country.
October 24, 2012, begins at 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. MST, at Little Wound High School Gymnasium in Kyle, South Dakota USA, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Russell Means, a self-described “Oglala Lakota Patriot and Freedom Fighter,” began his journey to the spirit world at 4:44 am, with the Morning Star, at his home and ranch in Porcupine.
This Honoring will be the first of four opportunities for the people to honor his life. The next three Honorings are tentatively scheduled as follows: 2nd Honoring at Wounded Knee’73 Occupation Memorial (Feb 2013); 3rd Honoring at Wind Cave State Park, SD (June 2013); 4th Honoring on Russell’s birthday (Nov 10, 2013) at location to be determined.
There will be a designated media area at the Honoring on Wednesday at Little Wound School. Press credentials required.
Paypal contributions can be made at: www.treatyschool.orgRussell Means at his best, writing about the dogs, ponies and smokescreen of the US ‘listening conferences’
As we can see, many indigenous people have been duped to participate, yet again, in a lying and duplicitous process of the United States. The United States has absolutely no interest or intention of admitting to the world its human rights record that is neither justifiable nor defensible. In particular, the record of the United States with regard to historical, and ongoing, violations of over 370 treaties that were negotiated and signed with indigenous nations must be, but will not be, addressed by the United States. Instead, as is its ongoing practice, the United States will use this session, and the one tomorrow on the territory of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, as its justification that indigenous peoples were “consulted,” and “listened to,” while the U.S. simultaneously lies to the world about its disgraceful human rights record.
The Republic of Lakotah will not legitimize this embarrassing process. Instead, we will submit our report directly to the UN Human Rights Council, not to be filtered or sanitized by the State Department. Let us be clear, our report will be scathing. The United States continues, on a daily basis to violate the terms of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties with the Lakotah. Our report will indicate that the United States never intended to abide by the terms of the treaties, and has violated them consistently from the time of their signing to the present.
Our report will also cite the United States’ own language in acknowledging that “the treaties retain their full force and effect even today because they are the legal equivalent of treaties with foreign governmentsand have the force of federal law.” Periodic Report of the United States of America to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, April 23, 2007, paragraph 335. In light of the United States’ own admissions, in addition to reporting to the Human Rights Council on the egregious human rights record of the US towards indigenous peoples, the Republic of Lakotah will report to the Council and to the world, the exercise of its own rights under principles of international law. The United States has continually breached the treaties with the Lakotah, and international law allows the Lakotah to return to our status quo ante position prior to the signing of the treaties.
On March 30, 2010, the Republic of Lakotah will repeat its position to the United States, and will transmit its communication to the President of the United States and to the Secretary of State, demanding that the United States cease and desist it activities in Lakotah territory, and insisting that the United States withdraw its presence from our homeland.
In February of 1973 the American Indian Movement and the Lakota Nation made a final stand for Native rights with siege at wounded knee.
In the summer of 1968, two hundred members of the Native American community came together for a meeting to discuss various issues that Indian people of the time were dealing with on an everyday basis. Among these issues were, police brutality, high unemployment rates, and the Federal Government’s policies concerning American Indians.
From this meeting came the birth of the American Indian Movement, commonly known as AIM. With this came the emergence of AIM leaders, such as Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt to name a few.
Little did anyone know that AIM would become instrumental in shaping not only the path of Native Americans across the country, but the eyes of the world would follow AIM protests through the occupation at Alcatraz through the Trail of Broken Treaties, to the final conflict of the 1868 Sioux treaty of the Black Hills. This conflict would begin on February 27, 1973 and last seventy-one days. The occupation became known in history, as the Siege at Wounded Knee.
It began as the American Indian’s stood against government atrocities, and ended in an armed battle with US Armed Forces. Corruption within the BIA and Tribal Council at an all time high, tension on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation was on the increase and quickly getting out of control. With a feeling close to despair, and knowing there was nothing else for them to do, elders of the Lakota Nation asked the American Indian Movement for assistance. This bringing to a head, more than a hundred years of racial tension and a government corruption.
On that winter day in 1973, a large group of armed Native Americans reclaimed Wounded Knee in the name of the Lakota Nation. For the first time in many decades, those Oglala Sioux ruled themselves, free from government intervention, as is their ancient custom. This would become the basis for a TV movie, “Lakota Woman”the true story of Mary Moore Crowdog, and her experiences at the Wounded Knee occupation.
During the preceding months of the Wounded Knee occupation, civil war brewed among the Oglala people. There became a clear-cut between the traditional Lakota people and the more progressive minded government supporters. The traditional people wanted more independence from the Federal Government, as well as honoring of the 1868 Sioux treaty, which was still valid. According to the 1868 treaty, the Black Hills of South Dakota still belonged to the Sioux people, and the traditional people wanted the Federal Government to honor their treaty by returning the sacred Black Hills to the Sioux people.
The young AIM warriors, idealistic and defiant, were like a breath of fresh air to the Indian people, and their ideas quickly caught on. When AIM took control of Wounded Knee, over seventy-five different Indian Nations were represented, with more supporters arriving daily from all over the country. Soon United States Armed Forces in the form of Federal Marshals, and the National Guard surrounded the large group. All roads to Wounded Knee were cut off, but still, people slipped through the lines, pouring into the occupied area.
The forces inside Wounded Knee demanded an investigation into misuse of tribal funds; the goon squad’s violent aggression against people who dared speak out against the tribal government. In addition they wanted the Senate Committee to launch an investigation into the BIA and the Department of the Interior regarding their handling of the affairs of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The warriors also demanded an investigation into the 371 treaties between the Native Nations and the Federal Government, all of which had been broken by the United States.
The warriors that occupied Wounded Knee held fast to these demands and refused to lay down arms until they were met. The government cut off the electricity to Wounded Knee and attempted to keep all food supplies from entering the area.
For the rest of that winter, the men and women inside Wounded Knee lived on minimal resources, while they fought the armed aggression of Federal Forces. Daily, heavy gunfire was issued back and forth between the two sides, but true to their word, they refused to give up.
During the Wounded Knee occupation, they would live in their traditional manner, celebrating a birth, a marriage and they would mourn the death of two of their fellow warriors inside Wounded Knee. AIM member, Buddy Lamont was hit by M16 fire and bled to death inside Wounded Knee.
AIM member, Frank Clearwater was killed by heavy machine gun fire, inside Wounded Knee.
Twelve other individuals were intercepted by the goon squad while back packing supplies into Wounded Knee; they disappeared and were never heard from again. Though the government investigated, by looking for a mass grave in the area, when none was found the investigation was soon dismissed.
Wounded Knee was a great victory for the Oglala Sioux as well as all other Indian Nations. For a short period of time in 1973, they were a free people once more.
After 71 days, the Siege at Wounded Knee had come to an end; with the government making nearly 1200 arrests. But this would only mark the beginning of what was known as the “Reign of Terror” instigated by the FBI and the BIA. During the three years following Wounded Knee, 64 tribal members were unsolved murder victims, 300 harassed and beaten, and 562 arrests were made, and of these arrests only 15 people were convicted of any crime. A large price to pay for 71 days as a free people on the land of one’s ancestors.
YOUR US TAX DOLLARS HARD AT WORK BUYING BULLETS INSTEAD OF SCHOOL BOOKS.