Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Russell Means 1939 – 2012

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
International indigenous people and Native American civil-rights leader, activist, politician, actor, writer, artist, and musician, Russell Charles Means died of cancer, Monday October 22, at home in Porcupine, South Dakota.

He was 72.

The above pictures, of the multi talented man were taken February 2, 2007 at the New Mexico Capitol

An Oglala Sioux, he was born in Wanblee, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. He was baptized, Oyate Wacinyapin, which in his native Lakota language means, "works for the people".
The reservation covers all or part of three counties in the southwest corner of the state. It represent some of the poorest area of the country, yet the landscape is magnificent.

Means was one of the main American Indian Movement leaders during the 71-day Wounded Knee occupation, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.D., which began February 27, ending May 8, 1973.

He was charged with a number of felony crimes along with fellow AIM leader Dennis Banks for the siege at Wounded Knee. Both were represented by ACLU lawyer William Kunstler and after eight months of trial, US District Court of South Dakota Judge Fred Joseph Nichol, dismissed all charges citing prosecutorial misconduct. The ruling withstood an appeal.
This triptych, is of the church at Wounded Knee, the central gathering point during the 1973 occupation and siege. The upper left is the view of the church and cemetery from across the road, BIA 27 also known as Big Foot Trail, as seen through a cut-out in the door of an outhouse, just in front of the stream bed where the massacre at Wounded Knee took place in 1890. The upper right picture is of the cemetery from the church looking towards the site: it is also where the artillery pieces were located. The bottom picture was a neighboring girl who sold me a raffle ticket in support of her softball team. The picture below left is of a memorial at the grave of the 1890 victims.

Means participated in several other AIM occupations and eventsHe joined AIM when he participated in the 1969 take over of Alcatraz island in San Francisco Harbor. He also protested: Mount Rushmore, S.D. in 1970, on Thanksgiving Day 1970, on a replica of the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

Means had a mainstream political history, he ran for the presidency of the Oglala Sioux tribe in 1974. He was defeated, but due to massive voter fraud, a federal court ordered a new election. The fraudulent government refused, and the court did not enforce its ruling. He had failed efforts at national politics when in 1984, as a vice-presidential candidate, he joined Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flint’s presidential campaign. In 1988 he made a run for the Independent Party’s presidential nomination, which went to Texas Representative Ron Paul.

A part time resident of San Jose, New Mexico, Means failed to get on the 2002 New Mexico ballot as an Independent candidate for Governor, because the Secretary of State claimed he’d missed a deadline for filing by ten-minutes. However, unlike this year’s election cycle, the State Supreme Court upheld the rejection.

He wrote a 1995 best selling book: “Where White Men Fear to Tread, the Autobiography of Russell Means.”

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