Monday, October 22, 2012

Wounded Knee Activist Russell Means Dies

Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement activist who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, reveled in stirring up attention, and appeared in several Hollywood films, has died. He was 72. Means died early today at his ranch in Porcupine, SD, an Ogala Sioux tribal spokeswoman said. Means announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer, and that he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments.

Means was an early leader of AIM and led its armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gunbattles with federal officers. He was often embroiled in controversy, partly because of AIM's alleged involvement in the 1975 slaying of Annie Mae Aquash. But Means was also known for his role in the movie The Last of the Mohicans and had run unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988. He also appeared in Natural Born Killers, and lent his voice to Disney's Pocahontas.

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