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. geneticroadkill

    Hey, I'm an American and adored Mr. Means. Not all of us white folks are idiots (just most of us, I agree). Mr. Means had heart. I am truly sorry for his loss.

    I am appalled, but not surprised, at the lack of news regarding Mr. Means by CNN. This little crumb of a news item is in poor taste.

    Additionally, anyone who posts negative or rude comments regarding the death of a soul should be shamed for their lack of character. Not the place. Not the time.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I agree.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      This short obit is better than the biased piece of smear put out by the AP.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      The attack at Wounded Knee was inspirational, and it should not be forgotten. Russell Means was not a revolutionary as some comments suggest. He was a REAL American, and never forget that the American character is to challenge authority.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bigdumbdinosaur

    Means was nothing more than a thug trying to promote himself by proclaiming to be an Indian. I respect the real Indians, not people like Means.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • therealdeal

      "Real Indians." Who might those people be? People who didn't fight back against oppression and the crippling effects of the treatment by the US government? Or is your comment directed at further insulting good people?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • danielwalldammit

      Real people, Indian or otherwise, don't become such by conducting themselves as you think they should. And 'real Indians' are Indians whether they are good, bad, or sick from the flu. Your litmus test don't mean a damned thing.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Might Wild Moose

      I agree with you, he was just a self promoting man in the name of Indianess. Ran off reservation and married or llived with a white women.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      "real indians"; its what the media tells people should look like Tonto- or something. And the government has a huge list on every application- you know, to placate people and promote discrimination and further dividing and conquering of humanity.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Oh, do you mean Espera Oscar de Corti, also known as "Iron Eyes Cody", also known as "The crying Indian"?

      Russell Means WAS a real American Indian.
      Your words are trollish.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Wild Moose, is there some reason that you think it wasn't okay for him to marry whomever he wished, or are you trolling also?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1984

      You dont respect anyone by making statements like that. This man stood up for what he believed in, not like most people . The Native Americans have been dis-respected from the time Columbus arrived. All in the name of GREED. Check your History before you shoot your mouth off. And guess what its happening again right before your eyes.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeffision

    He left the world a better place. That's the best that can be said about anyone.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. aertzc

    Whether you agreed with him or not, Russel Means was an important and controversial figure. He deserves much more than one picture in a slideshow about other people who've died.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lakota Language

    Waŋná wanáǧiyata níŋ na uŋ líla ičháŋteuŋšičapi, oíyokšiče ló. Éyaš óhiŋniyaŋ čhíksuya uŋk’úŋpi kte ló.

    Now you are making the journey to the spirit world and we are sad. But we will always remember you.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristi

      Lovely sentiment.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Siouxpreme


      October 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. therealdeal

    He was not a terrorist or a thug. He actually reacted to terroristic threats and problems arising from the treatment for a few hundred years by the US Government. Anyone that thinks otherwise needs to do a little more research on the history of the native Americans and how they have been misused and abused since the European Americans arrived here. You need to check out what really happened to Peltier and at Wounded Knee. What an uneduated ignorant thing to call a great man.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidInAustin

      What really happened at Wounded Knee is that the people who lived there were abused, kidnapped and robbed. There was at least one murder committed there: why don't YOU do some research on the name Ray Robinson. Or Annie Mae Aquash, for that matter, a murder that we all know about. You take the bad with the good when it comes to self-proclaimed revolutionaries, and with AIM and in particular Russell Means, there was a lot of bad. In later years, he became a blowhard, and was basically just on the wrong side in his tangles with the journalist Paul DeMain, who is someone else you might research. Finally, Peltier, almost certainly participated in killingl those Feds, and while I believe that he was largely justified in doing so, it doesn't justify all the lies for all these years. 'Revolution' in the hands of self-admiring, posing youngsters like AIM is very damaging to communities.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • old golfer

      Trail of tears, Geronimo and the list is long and sordid. Good post.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Lou Lopez

      History written by oppresive people is just that OPPRESIVE!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Julia

    All I had to read was "Activist". Good riddance.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cactus

      Julia – so, if you're happy with the passing of an "activist," does that mean you're a pacifist? Lol. Idiot.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      @Cactus Nope. It just means I have no use for "Activists". LOL, moron.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • de

      So, you never want to see change for the better? No change at all? Because without activists things go stagnant., people slip through the cracks in our system and the world gets a little darker all the time. Russel Means spoke his mind, challenged the wisdom of the people in charge and for it he should be thanked. He opened the eyes of many to the plight of a struggling people. Native Americans were here first but get considered, in all things, last. Their accomplishments are negated by narrow minded people who live in the 1800's trying to keep people in their "place". Am I Native, no, but I am proud of the man who kept his eye on the goal of freedom and equality. I'm not African American either but, I still see Martin Luther King, Jr. as a great man, he has a holiday in his memory, the least you can do is honor Russel Means on the day of his death instead of running him down.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      @de No, the least I can do, is do nothing.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zoby

    Treatment of native Americans in the 19th and 20th century was always very poor and in some cases intolerable. I'm a white guy but I have always had respect for the native people. My great grandmother was Cherokee and im glad I got to know her before she died.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hide Behind

    Oyate Wachyapin joins thr lands where he was born, lived and revered his whole life.
    To the whites he was a pain, as well as to many of his people, because he made them look at reality of what life as a member of the Native Nations was.
    Without men and women, about equal in number, the corruption by BIA and the thefts of hundreds of millions of Native Americans would never of came to light.
    Neither would the corruption o Tribal members appointed by Whites and tgen backed by corrupt government Legals have been known.
    He was the living example of all the imperfections of human nature found in an imposed by Whits servitude.
    He also was one that brought and sought even more dignity for a proud people.
    In Lakota his real name, Oyate Wachyapin means helper of his people.
    He lived that name quite well.
    May his Spirit always walk those lands.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • therealdeal

      Thank you. You said it far better than I did.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. danielwalldammit

    And you sir are a troll, and should be remembered as such.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sly

    Means was an American hero, a real American at that.

    Yes, many of you white boys (I'm white) get your panties all in a bind when non-whites get attention – makes y'all turn a real pasty color of white, kinda like Caspar the Ghost.

    Although the racists survive in America, racial discrimination is long gone, from a legal perspective, and that will help make us the strongest country on earth, once again.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Che Gomez

    Rest in Peace. I enjoyed your work . . . You leave a great Legacy!

    October 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BEV

    I m so sorry to read this. Rest in peace Mr Means. We are all worse off for his passing.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dinegal88

    Rest In Peace Russell Means!
    To your family and the Natives all across America you were an icon... a Hero! Thanks for stepping up and speaking out for those who didn't have the courage to. You were a great actor, husband and father to all of us!
    God Bless you and your family...
    My prayers and condolences go out to the Means family in S.D.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike Mac

    Russell Means was a REAL American, and few people on this thread can claim the same. It is not activist, revolutionary or communist to claim your civil rights, and Native Americans have never got their due.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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