Russell Means, American Indian activist and actor, dies at 72
Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement activist and 'Last of the Mohicans' actor died at age 72.
An Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman said Means died Monday at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D. on October 22, 2012. Means announced in August 2011 that he had been diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. He told the Associated Press that he planned to use traditional American Indian remedies instead of mainstream medical treatments.
During his life, Means fought for Native American rights, rallying against broken treaties, fighting for stolen land and raising awareness to the plight of modern Native Americans.
The one-time leader of the American Indian Movement helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, which raised American awareness and sparked a decade-long protest movement. He was also one of the first activists to urge sports teams to stop using Indian names and mascots.
The group was the subject of controversy due to its alleged involvement in the slaying of a tribe member and the several gun battles with federal officers during the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee. Means denied that the group promoted violence.
Means and AIM co-founder Dennis Banks were charged in 1974 for their role in the Wounded Knee uprising, but after a several month-long trial, a judge threw the charges out on grounds of government misconduct
Means was also was known for a handful of Hollywood roles, most notably in the 1992 movie "The Last of the Mohicans," in which he portrayed Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye.
He also appeared in the 1994 film "Natural Born Killers," voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film "Pocahontas" and guest starred in 2004 on the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Means also ventured into politics, running unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988 and serving as vice presidential candidate in 1984 on Hustler publisher Larry Flint's ticket.