Freedom is for everyone, whatever lifestyle they
choose, as long as it’s peaceful and honest.
“I’m Russell Means,” he said. “I’m a convict.”
Russell Means is an actor. He is also a proud Lakota member. Born November 10, 1939 on the Pine Ridge reservation he is the man that is behind the movement for his people to be a sovereign nation.
Means is the first national director of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and has been an active member for the past 27 years. In 1973 he helped lead the takeover of Wounded Knee. He also resigned from this group at least six times. He has been in conflict with other chapters of AIM for many years. In 2004 he ran for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe but was defeated by Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first woman to be elected to that position.
On his personal web page he solicits money for the Russell Means Philanthropy and AIM Club Membership in name of the American Indian Movement.
He has appeared in films including “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Natural Born Killers”. He has penned an autobiography “Where White Men Fear To Tread.”
For some time now he has stated that he and his current wife Pearl are building a “Treaty Total Immersion School” on the Pine Ridge reservation. The hope of this is to instill children with pride of their Lakota heritage. As far back as the late 1990’s he has talked on this matter. The school still does not exist.
Means was arrested in Chine Dec. 29, 1997 for battery against Leon Grant, his father-in-law. That act in itself shows that he doesn’t always respect the laws of his own people, one of the most important beliefs is that of respect for elders. He plead not guilty to those charges. He fought the court for years on this one case because Grant is Navajo and he is Lakota. Means fought the Navajo Nation’s jurisdiction since 1997 on this matter. The “Duro fix” (the power of tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction within their reservations over all Indians, including non-members) was applied to this case.
He has stood trial a total of twelve times. In 1975 he was accused of the murder of Martin Montileaux. He was acquitted on that charge. He served a year in 1979 on charges that resulted from a riot that took place at a courtroom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Means has been married four times. He blames substance abuse for wrecking three of those marriages. His wives were the ones that supported the family by holding down jobs.
In 2003 South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow pardoned Means for the felony conviction for riot to obstruct justice.
“The Means pardon deals with a felony conviction for riot to obstruct justice. The law was repealed by the Legislature in the late ’70s, but with no retroactive provision for those convicted, Means said. He recalls the incident in the Sioux Falls courtroom.”
“I refused to stand up for Judge Joe Bottum. There is no crime for not standing up for a judge, but it is a polite show of respect. So he sent in the riot police to deal with us, and we (Means’ supporters – W.) beat up the riot police,” Means said. “I did my time, one year, three days, 22 hours in the Sioux Falls penitentiary.”
We agree with Walter that while Means might have committed other transgressions in his younger days, “The charge for which he was actually imprisoned is bogus. Federal and local authorities pulled out all the stops to try to convict Means of something, anything, but that was the only charge that stuck.”
The bottom line has to be is this the man that the Lakota Nation should put on the front line? Is this even something that the people of the Lakota want? Means talks a great game but looking at his actions it does cause at least for me to pause and question what is behind the call for sovereignty now. Is it truly for the people of the Lakota Nation or is it a way to insure Means stays in the public eye?