NOVEMBER 10, 1939


Born on the Pine Ridge reservation, Means grew up in San Francisco.  By the early 1970s, he became the Director of the American Indian Movement (AIM).  During his tenure, he and Dennis Banks [see April 12], led AIM’s involvement in the occupation of Alcatraz (1969); Thanksgiving Plymouth Rock protest & Mayflower II seizure; Indian prayer vigil at Mt. Rushmore (1970); “Trail of Broken Treaties“ caravan and BIA occupation (1972); and standoff at Wounded Knee (1973).  Means served a year in prison for the 1974 AIM clash with police at a Sioux Falls, S.D., courthouse.  In 1985-86, he went to Nicaragua to support the Miskito Indians against the Sandinista government.  In 1987, Means sought the Libertarian Party nomination for President.  He split from AIM in 1988 and began his acting career in The Last of the Mohican (1992) as Chingachgook.  He appeared in over 30 films and TV programs, recorded CDs, and co-wrote a memoir, Where White Men Fear to Tread.  Means died October 22, 2012, in Porcupine, S.D.

Source:  Robert D. McFadden, "Russell Means, Who Clashed With Law as He Fought for Indians, Is Dead at 72," New York Times, 10/22/2012.  Retrieved 7/18/2019,
Photo:  Carolmooredc, March 1987.  Permissive Use pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license,

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