Tag Archives: Russell Means

Russell Means, Lightning, And Sexiness: The Toughest Indian In The Whole World

A young Russell Means. Image via Race-Talk.org

By Guest Contributor Gyasi Ross, cross-posted from Race-Talk

… After I die, I’m coming back as lightning. When it zaps the White House, they’ll know it’s me.
- Russell Means

I never met Russell Means. I had the chance to meet him when I was a kid. In fact, I saw him a few times as a youngster, but I was so intimidated by him—he seemed bigger than life—I never actually went to speak to him. I heard a lot of things about him as I grew older; good stuff, bad stuff. However, he was somebody about whom, as Native people, everybody seemed to hold an opinion.

When I heard of his passing, I was sad, just like when you hear about anyone of your heroes passing. I know members of his family, and that made it even more painful; yet, I thought it was appropriate the fashion and time in which he passed—on his own terms, loudly, and with the world taking notice.

I don’t think that it was a coincidence that he passed at the exact moment that the National Congress of American Indians’ Annual Conference was convening. Big Brother Means was a throwback, a non-conformist, a fighter. He wanted nothing to do with this current era of conciliatory politics, where many tribal leaders work hand-in-hand with the same US government that has historically worked for Native peoples’ demise.
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Voices: Russell Means (1939-2012)


- Russell Means, May 2011.

One thing about Russell I always remembered, and I think someone else once said it, you may have loved him, or you may have disliked him, but you couldn’t ignore him. I’ll always remember when an elder said one time, I was at a ceremony and I asked what this half shaped moon circle on the ground meant, and he said it was a symbol of the circle of life, the never ending of the circle of life, and I said there is only half a circle, and he said the other half was unseen, it is the spirit world. For Indian people it never ends, we don’t have a linear existence, so I know I will see Russell again, and I take comfort in that thought. For men like Russell Means don’t come along in a lifetime very often. He was truly an inspiration for all of us younger guys at the time.
- Leonald Peltier, via Aboriginal Press News

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