People we've lost in 2012
October 22nd, 2012
11:13 AM ET

Native American activist Russell Means dies

Native American activist Russell Means died early Monday from throat cancer, an Oglala Lakota Sioux nation representative said.

Means led a 71-day uprising on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1973.

"Means has devoted his life to eliminating racism of any kind, and in so doing he leaves a historical imprint as the most revolutionary Indian leader of the late twentieth century," his website said. "An inspirational visionary, Russell Means remains one of the most magnetic voices in America today.

"Whether leading a protest, fighting for constitutional rights, starring in a motion picture, or performing his “rap-ajo” music, the message he delivers is consistent with the philosophy he lives by."

Obituaries 2012: The lives they've lived

soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. B Overby

    We visited Wounded Knee about 6-7 years ago, and Means was there hawking a book or something, but he was insulting and openly hostile to whites. I felt it was so special to be at Wounded Knee, you can just feel the presence of it's ancestors, but we walked away feeling dirty after meeting him. Means is a good last name for him.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Keith

    First Nations – fighting illegal immigration for 600 years.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. White Horse

    A great man now walks with the Sky Spirits. Rest easy..

    October 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bob

    Hoka hey!

    October 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. lindaluttrell

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Means. I will never forget you.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lord Siouxpreme

    You can't be possibly be human and be an admirer of Russell Means.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ana

      I'm sure you meant to say that "You can't possibly be human and not be an admirer of Russell Means.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lord Siouxpreme

    Note to LakotaDawn, the term Jewed is highly racist. As a fellow NDN, do you remember who was next on Hitler's extermination list? Us NDNs.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Rachel

    The man had a lot of poison in him, accompanied by tons of anger. He just couldn't escape it.

    Then, since Karma always wins, throat cancer put an end to his voice.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dale Joy

      Rachel, I hope you will forgive yourself for such anger toward one who has passed. Do not carry such feelings, it will only turn against you. Forgive yourself for how you feel, then you can heal.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      You would be too if your house was stolen; told to live with shame and then wanting to get rid of you by claiming you didn't belong in that house.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale Joy

      Rachel, I hope you will forgive yourself for such anger toward one who has passed. Do not carry such feelings, it will only turn against you. Forgive yourself for how you feel, then you can heal. Pray that Russel will heal his wounds in the spiritland.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Sorry, folks, if my comment offended you. It is YOU who should forgive yourself for such comments to ME.

      What I speak is of truth, nothing more, nothing less. And millions would agree.

      And of course, I wish him well in the spirit world. To think otherwise of me, is just plain ignorant.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      @Rachel. You are so uninformed and historically uneducated. You should have done some reading and research before you showed your ignorance. Read "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" if you can concentrate that long.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John E

    I liked Russell Means as an actor, who well represented his people on the big screen, and respected him for the way he stood up and fought for his people, the Lakota, and all Native American people. I think the US Government broke every treaty they ever signed with the Indians, so he had plenty to make people remember.

    RIP Russell Means

    October 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dale Joy

    Russel Means did what he could to educate the world about the abuses he and many of his First People sisters and brothers were still going through. He brought awareness through continued life efforts, Wounded Knee, AIM, and historic educational support in and of his clan. Yes, he was a greater person for doing so. May he go to the spiritland in peace. I will miss him.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rare_earth

    We need more people like Russell Means.
    He wasn't a puppet for the government. He stood strong for the rights of his people against impossible odds and overcame.
    Wounded Knee was just one of many atrocities performed by this government against Natives and their Bands.
    The American government has a way of condemning an action, while performing the same action themselves.
    RIP Warrior.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. appleki

    I met him once. HE was on a speaking tour at my college. He was an intersting man and if nothing else upfront and honest with his opinions. Didn't agree with everything he said but I admire the honesty and willingness to fight for what he believed in.

    I hope he's at peace and happy now.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ana

    Means was the Martin Luther King of the Native American movement. He was also a very talented actor "Last of the Mohicans," "Pathfinder," Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," etc. I did not see anything about his death on CNN front page. Why not? He was a very important man, who made a difference and will be mourned for a long time to come.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. IndiansHaveHerosToo

    He may have did & said things that others may not of felt was just & righteous, but to my brothers & sisters he left this world with us knowing who he was & WE SHOULD BE PROUD that even in his death the white man knows we Indians still exist. As the saying goes do not judge me until you have walked a mile in my moccasins. Let him RIP.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Terry Davis

      If there is any race in this country that has a right to be racist, it must be the American Indians. That they tolerate us at all is to their credit. Long live the independent American Indian Nations.

      Those who would deny rights to others do not themselves deserve them.

      RIP Russell Means...and Cesar Chavez...and Martin Luther King...and Bobby Kennedy...and Jack Kennedy.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • allison

      Russell was a true hero

      October 23, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hide Behind

    One thing he was not was an "Apple Indian", and he was not solet active in the US but as a member of the International Aboriginal Rights Association that helped bring their plight to floor of UN.
    To those of lesser stature who have not done a single thingexcept play at being Native American yes he at times liked to blow his own horn but he had to for the silence of the meek and comfortable that wanted to take every financial and social program drowned out the dignity of their ancestry.
    Hei did not want The Peoples to remain dependent upon white trash and touchy feely liberals who demeaned them as not being able to exist without their care.
    He recognized his own faults and those of The Peoples that keptthem in lives of no dignity and prtending tobe white was and still is one of their greatest deficits.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dasea

      what do you mean play at being a native american? This story is obviously about cancer. Stop smoking. It is a bad habit, just like war is a bad habit that the white men will have to stop someday. Stop smoking my rezzies.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
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