AIM activist Russell Means dies at age 72

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, October 24, 2012

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Russel Means

A t age 72, Former American Indian Movement leader Russell Means died early this morning at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D.

In an Indian Country Today Media Network news story this morning, his son, Scott Means issued the following statement: "My dad now walks among our ancestors. He began his journey to the spirit world at 4:44 a.m. with the morning star."

Scott also said that there would be "four opportunities" for the people to honor his father and that those dates would be announced at a later time.

In August 2011, Means announced that he was suffering from the final stages of throat cancer. He also said that he would be seeking traditional Native American healing and alternative medicine instead of western medical treatment.

Means, an Oglala-Sioux, is probably most remembered for the 1973 takeover of Wounded Knee, S.D., which is on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The occupation by 200 activists lasted for 71 days and caught global attention.

Means was also part of the 1978 Trail of Broken Treaties or Longest Walk, which began on Alcatraz Island outside San Francisco on Feb. 11, 1978, with 26 individuals and ended with more than 2,000 indigenous people and their supporters walking into Washington, D.C., on July 15, 1978, where they were joined by celebrities such as professional boxing champion Muhammad Ali, major movie actor Marlon Brando and Sen. Edward Kennedy.

AIM organized the walk across American to call national attention to 11 pieces of Congressional legislation that would terminate treaties between the Indian Nations and the U.S.

In his later years, Means authored a biography, "Where White Men Fear to Tread," in which he shared his successes, failures and human frailties.

He stated in his book: "I tell the truth, and I expose myself as a weak, misguided, misdirected, dysfunctional human being I used to be."

Means was featured in several major movies, which included "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Natural Born Killers."

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