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American Indian Activist Russell Means Powerful Speech, 1989

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Published on Oct 22, 2013

Legendary Russell Means harshly criticizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian leadership of reservations. One of a kind, RIP November 10, 1939 -- October 22, 2012

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Russell was an Oglala Sioux activist for the rights of American Indian people. He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) after joining the organization in 1968, and helped organize notable events that attracted national and international media coverage.

Russell Means has lived a life like few others in this century -- revered for his selfless accomplishments and remarkable bravery. He was born into a society and guided by a way of life that gently denies the self in order to promote the survival and betterment of family and community. His culture is driven by tradition, which at once links the past to the present.

Russell Means was once called the "biggest, baddest, meanest, angriest, most famous American Indian activist of the late 20th century."

He led a 71-day armed standoff in 1973 against federal agents at Wounded Knee, a tiny hamlet in the heart of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation.

It is considered to be one of his most famous act of defiance, however, occurred at Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973. Responding to the numerous murders perpetrated by puppet tribal governments and the extreme conditions of oppression, the takeover at Wounded Knee revisited the sight of the American Indian massacre at the hands of U.S. soldiers in 1890.

Ever vigilant for his cause, Russell has been lauded by the international community for his tireless efforts.

Later, he used film as a vehicle for his advocacy, thus enabling him to use different means to communicate his vital truths. Through the power of media, his vision was to create peaceful and positive images celebrating the magic and mystery of his American Indian heritage.

In contemplating the fundamental issues about the world in which we live, he was committed to educating all people about our most crucial battle-the preservation on the earth.

Means joined "The Longest Walk" in 1978 to protest a new tide of anti-Indian legislation including the forced sterilization of Indian women. Following the walk, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution saying that national policy was to protect the rights of Indians, "to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites."

Russell Means has been called the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse by the Los Angeles Times and recognized as a natural leader with a fearless dedication and indestructible sense of pride.

He took pride in having instituted programs for the betterment of his people: notable, the Porcupine Health Clinic (the only non government funded clinic in Indian Country) and KILI radio, the first Indian owned radio station.

Today, one of his principle goals has been the establishment of a "Total Immersion School", which is based on a concept created by the Maori people of New Zealand, where children are immersed in the language, culture, science, music and storytelling of their own people.

Russell wanted to adapt this total immersion concept to the Indian way of life and philosophy which is taught from a perspective that will nurture a new generation of proud children educated in the context of their own heritage.

Russell 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.

Russell's commitment to uplift the plight of his people escalated when he served as director of Cleveland's American Indian Center.

It was there he met Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, and embarked upon a relationship that would rocket them both into national prominence.

"If I want my people to be free, Americans have to be free." --Russell Means

So much more to say about the incredible man...

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