Posted: Oct 22 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – American native, Russell Means, a one time leader of the American Indian Movement has died. He was 72.
Means, who died Monday from throat cancer, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee — a bloody confrontation that raised America’s awareness about the struggles of Indians and gave rise to a wider protest movement that lasted for the rest of the decade.
He called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture. He sought to restore Indians’ pride in their culture and to challenge a government that had paid little attention to tribes in generations.
He was also one of the first to urge sports teams to do away with Indian names and mascots.
“No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry,” Means said, recalling the early days of the movement.
After leaving the movement in the 1980s, the handsome, braided activist was still a cultural presence, appearing in several movies, most notably in the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” in which he portrayed Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis’ Hawkeye.
He also appeared in the 1994 film “Natural Born Killers,” voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film “Pocahontas” and guest starred in 2004 on the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Russell Means grew up in the San Francisco area and battled drugs and alcohol as a young man.
Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said wake services for Means’ will be held on Wednesday on Pine Ridge and his ashes will be scattered in the Black Hills on Thursday.
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