Russell Means : Visionary Travels On
By : Chase IronEyes
Today Oct. 25, 2012 we join the family in their prayer for Russell Means, a man of the people who fought valiantly against cancer in his last years. In a private ceremony, at day break today, Russell Means’ ashes were laid about our sacred Black Hills where, as Russ previously stated “no Feds or Anthropologists could dig me up to lay another charge on me or study my remains”, as related by Bill Means during Russell’s honoring and prayer services held Oct. 24 in Kyle, SD –Oglala Lakota Nation. Many warriors young and old were on hand to honor the visionary man of action, Russell Means. In attendance were notable dignitaries, professionals and spiritual warriors: Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Birgil Kills Straight, Bill Means, Glenn Morris, Bryan Brewer, Lionel Bordeaux, Floyd Hand, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Chief Oliver Red Cloud, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Mabel Ann Phillips, Phyllis Young, Dicky Marshall, Larry HandBoy, Don Cuny (Cuny Dog), Olowan Martinez, Tom Cheyenne, Elders and hundreds of indigenous patriots to send Russ off properly. It is with heavy heart that we all ask for prayers for Russell’s immediate and extended family as they endure their personal loss. No doubt, Russ touched each and every free thinking-freedom fighting human being whose path crossed his; his tenacity was contagious.
Russ was most known for the actions of the 1970s and the American Indian Movement’s efforts to bring about justice and equality for American Indians. AIM actions included the Trail of Broken Treaties (a nation-wide caravan to Washington DC) and were highlighted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs takeover, the Custer riots in which the Court House was set on fire, and the 71 day Siege at Wounded Knee 1973 during which thousands of rounds of gunfire were exchanged between AIM and the United States paramilitary forces. In brief, AIM came about at a time when Indians were not openly proud to be Indian. The United States committed genocide on our people, but we survived. The Church committed unspeakable horrors on our people and tried to erase our dignity and pride in our own ways of connecting with Creator, but we survived. Then we were dispersed to urban areas to be disconnected from our land and sacred sites; we were on the brink of collapse and then came AIM. The lot of American Indians as a whole was improved as federal policy shifted course improving areas such as religious, educational, and civil rights –the suit and tie Indians were strengthened by the leather vest Indians –change doesn’t come easy but it comes when we all work together. Just as groundbreaking, a hemisphere wide spark of indigenous re-awakening was ignited by our peoples’ courage. A renaissance was violently given roots because of sacrifices of AIM and other peace loving Indigenous.
Our continuing renaissance is flowering by way of language revitalization, ceremony practice, sobriety, self-sufficiency, and a steadily growing esteem in our ways of life (identities) as the original peoples of this hemisphere. We are not violent by nature. Our true power comes from our spiritual foundation but we are also eager to defend ourselves, our land and water. Russ was war-like and peaceful.
Russell Means successfully evolved from a militant patriot to a fierce advocate for free spirits by pursuing film, writing, videoblog, speaking and any form of communication that behooved the movement. He was a Sundance leader as well as a clever harbinger, willing to sacrifice freedom, bringing to light the contours of our international legal relationship with the rest of the world by fishing in the Black Hills pursuant to the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty between the Lakota and the United States as well as establishing the Republic of Lakotah by seceding from the 1868 Treaty because the United States has never honored its legal or moral obligations, to this day. Russ was consciousness by action, a practiced way of life of our warriors of old and present.
Russ leaves a living legacy for coming generations to carry forward. Russ was a tireless and fearless warrior at all times for the advancement of our peoples, at any cost including laying his own life on the line. We recognize the sacrifice he had to make and that his family allowed him to make on behalf of indigenous peoples. We are aware of the huge moccasins that we have to fill with Russ’ physical departure from this world. We are already filling them, thankfully.
The spiritual foundations of our movement and power are intergenerational and everlasting; we bear the responsibility to learn from our older ones and pass it on to our younger ones.
Just as Russ told me to never let that fire inside me die out I am now encouraged to know that each of us carries a piece of this fire inside of us and we all need to keep our fires burning so that our spiritual ways can flourish in protection of our dignity, sacred sites, land, water and languages.
Organizers and the family of Russell Means look forward to honoring Russ and others of the fallen but not forgotten on February 27, 2013 in Oglala Territory (Pine Ridge Reservation) during the 40th
anniversary of the 1973 Siege at Wounded Knee. All Wounded Knee II veterans still with us are asked to attend.
Rest In Power Russ and Ted means, Beau Little Sky, June Little, Kenny Kane, Webster Poor Bear, Vernon Bellecourt, Floyd Red Crow Westerman , Vine Deloria Jr., Milo Goings, Pedro Bissonette, Frank Clear Water, Joe Kills Right-Stuntz, Raymond Yellow Thunder, Wesley Bad Heart Bull, Severt Young Bear Sr, Henry Crow Dog, Pete Catches, Frank Fools Crow, Matthew King, Larry Red Shirt, Louie Bad Wound, anyone I did not name and the literally 100s of our people killed during the 1970s on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Special prayers for Leonard Peltier, United States Political Prisoner of 35 years still incarcerated.