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. DriftSS

    Pure propaganda...Russell Means was part of a movement (AIM) full of thugs, crooks, and murderers. There were true great Indians to celebrate....Russell Means and much of his AIM cronies not so much...

    October 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Learn your history. Traditional's were being murdered on Pine Ridge without any arrests. AIM's role was to protect the traditionals and publicize their poor condition -which they did. Russell Means followed in the footsteps of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Rest in peace Russell

      October 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really???

      You're a great example of the blind ignorant racists he fought against!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • StandAlone

      Kinda agree! Im Apache and Yavapai. Back in the early 90s he spoke at my high school and thanked all the white kids for showing up, then basically told them they were piles of garbage and that we(natives) should stand clear of anyone white. I was very confused. Never liked him after that. My father later told me he had been "kicked out" of a couple tribes, and was asked to leave the reservations.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • lisaspups

      Wow. That is pretty harsh, DriftSS, particularly considering the atrocities the Native Americans suffered - and continue to suffer - at the hands of the bullies and thugs know as the US government and its citizens.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Alexander, Cherokee

      My brother lives on in all of us. He is the land that he walks...

      October 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DriftSS

      The US gov't may not have treated Indians fairly over the years. However, that doesn't change the fact that while Russell Means may have spoken out for Indian rights.... he still was a thug, generally promoted violent protests (including several that resulted in extreme damage and/or loss of life), and was a man charged with murder among other crimes. So while I respect him for speaking out as a vocal advocate of Indian rights, I can't respect the manner in which he did so.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cactus Jack

      Replying to Gene, The traditionals were being killed as you stated but what you didn't state was that it was Indians living on the reservation that was killing them. Means took his fight to the US government and not to the real killers. The worst thing the US government has done to the Indians is putting them on reservations and looking after them like they were children. Today Indians are treated as super citizens, many laws like gambling and liquor are denied to some white people where they live but Indians can sell liquor where it is not allowed by the state, they can run gambling casinos in states where gambling is against the law, they can sell gigarettes that have not been taxed, they can issue their own automobile liscense plates and do not have to buy them from the state as the rest of us have to. The Indians are treated better than whites in today's world. As for the atrocities of the past, they were commited by whites and Indians, on whites and Indians, the Indian on Indian atrocities were as bad as white on Indian. Anyone who doesn't see this as fact is one of the biggest racists of all time. Atrocities have been commited on people by people since the beginning of time, this is human nature and will never be changed. Only the shallow minds of the American whites want to wallow in self pity of what their forbears done.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentOwl

      gigarettes are much worse than cigarettes.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Lander

    How can you replace an icon in the struggle for American Indian rights? We will miss you.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cactus Jack

      Michael, did you think of him last week, anytime this year, how about last year or anytime in the last 10 years? I doubt you thought of him any at all after he left the spotlight of the news. Some speak because they have something to say but most speak because they just have to say something. I think you fall into the latter as do most of those posting to this article.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentOwl

      I'm sure you think of George Washington everyday, and Christopher Columbus too. It is not the thinking of the people that make them influential in history it is the acts they committed and the influence they made. You don't have to think of historical figures to make them historical figures. You seem to be intentionally demeaning some one's sentiments. Either you're incredibly cruel or you're just looking to cause people to feel angry at you.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cheryl Klepper

    It may not be by chance our brother, Russell, was taken back home to be with our Maker, the day after He had our Sister, Kateri Tekakwitha, was cannonized. Our brother, Russell, worked and advocated for his people here on earth while his and our sister, Kateri, was being readied for her intervention on our behalf. Russell will be missed by his people; he was one of a kind.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Last to Know

    Once again, CNN at it's finest. So much indepth reporting. Here let me break it down for you who didn't have the time to read the whole informative article.
    Russel Means, Indian Leader died. No other information available.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      This is a blog on CNN. Not a journalist's report.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Grateful

    Thank you, Russell. We will miss you, your courage, your integrity and your heart.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Anyone who fights for the civil rights of all people have my respect.
    My condolences to Mr. Means family and friends.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Spendlove

    Rest in peace Russell and may your journey be a good one.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bigwilliestyles

    RIP to another of the true giants of the struggle for human rights. Love live the memory of Wounded Knee and superheros like Russell Means.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mcskadittle

    i am really disappointed by the lack of an depth of this article

    October 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott

    About time that terrorist bites the big one!


    October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Reason

    it speaks volumes about many Americans- they are here on CNN defending Lance Armstrong and condemning this true hero.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lakotastargazer

    Russ was many things to many people, He will be remebered mostly for the Wounded Knee occupation, but I will always remember him for his overall struggle against the use of native americans as mascots and the spotlight he brought to the injustices that were happening in indian country during the latter half of the last century.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Friend

    Rest with the great mystery brother Means.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kayar

    A great man...one I wished I had met in real life.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cactus Jack

      Unless you are Indian you would have probably wished you had not met him. He did not care for whites and made that very plain.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Mann

      Got that right , Jack,,,but Russ had more than one side, and more than one wife, at least one of which was white...
      He was raised in LA and I think he was anything but stereotypical. He was a big guy and he ususally acted like a big guy.
      Most importantly, however, he did it for his family

      October 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • wichita-caddo

      Cactus Jack- You speak as if you knew him which it is very clear that you did not. As an AMerican Indian who's family sacrificed a lot in the AIM, I can say he was not a perfect man by any means (which he frequently admitted to) and yes in his early years he had a great many problems with the whiterace in general. He was young and angry seeing the continous mistreatment and all the attrocities done to our people at the hands of the government and many white men. Most men would react the same. With experience comes wisdom and he fought for many years to educate and inspire people to show compassion and to get eqaulity for our people. He was a mondern day warrior fighting for his people. We have lost an icon and a hero.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    It's time for TNT to run LAKOTA WOMAN: SEIGE AT WOUNDED KNEE again.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
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