Archive for South Dakota

Russell Means Passes

Posted in Education, History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by urbannight

Sitting here, checking my email, I see that Russell Means has died.  I actually realized I have tears in my eyes over this.  There may be a lot of people today who don’t know who this man was. 

This is the image with which most people will be familiar.

He was an Oglala Sioux who worked very hard to bring the plight of the American Indians to the attention of everyone else in this country.  He made some bad choices in his life, and occasionally in the way he handled some incidents.  But he was a man who had a hard youth, overcame his additions, found a cause, and devoted himself to trying to make this country a better place.

He didn’t isolate himself to just helping his own tribe or just North American tribes.  He was an activist for all indigenousness peoples on the American Continents.  After fighting the ‘system’ he also tried to work within the political machine as a Libertarian.  When he was older, he did a little bit of acting and wrote an autobiography, “Where White Men Fear to Tread”.

His entire life was about overcoming: overcoming alcoholism, overcoming drugs, overcoming bad choices.  He still made questionable choices.  He is a good example of a person who tried to be good, to do good, but sometimes fails, sometimes does the wrong thing, and has to never stop trying to rebuild.

Dirk Lammers and Kristi Eaton of the AP wrote a better overview of his life than I could, so I’m just posting the entire text of their article for the Associated Press:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Russell Means spent a lifetime as a modern American Indian warrior. He railed against broken treaties, fought for the return of stolen land and even took up arms against the federal government.

A onetime leader of the American Indian Movement, he called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture. After leaving the movement in the 1980s, the handsome, braided activist was still a cultural presence, appearing in several movies.

Means, who died Monday from throat cancer at age 72, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee — a bloody confrontation that raised America’s awareness about the struggles of Indians and gave rise to a wider protest movement that lasted for the rest of the decade.

Before AIM, there were few national advocates for American Indians. Means was one of the first to emerge. He sought to restore Indians’ pride in their culture and to challenge a government that had paid little attention to tribes in generations. He was also one of the first to urge sports teams to do away with Indian names and mascots.

“No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry,” Means said, recalling the early days of the movement. And there were dozens, if not hundreds, of athletic teams “that in essence were insulting us, from grade schools to college. That’s all changed.”

AIM was founded in the late 1960s to demand that the government honor its treaties with American Indian tribes. The movement eventually faded away, Means said, as Native Americans became more self-aware and self-determined.

There were plenty of American Indian activists before AIM, but it became the “radical media gorilla,” said Paul DeMain, editor of News from Indian Country, a national newspaper focused on tribal affairs.

“If someone needed help, you called on the American Indian Movement, and they showed up and caused all kind of ruckus and looked beautiful on a 20-second clip on TV that night,” DeMain said.

Means and AIM co-founder Dennis Banks were charged in 1974 for their role in the Wounded Knee uprising in which hundreds of protesters occupied the town on the site of the 1890 Indian massacre. Protesters and federal authorities were locked in a standoff for 71 days and frequently exchanged gunfire. Before it was over, two tribal members were killed and a federal agent seriously wounded.

After a trial that lasted several months, a judge threw out the charges on grounds of government misconduct.

Other protests led by Means included an American Indian prayer vigil on top of Mount Rushmore and the seizure of a replica of the Mayflower on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass.

“The friendship between Russell and I goes back almost 50 years,” Banks said late Monday night. “I lost a great friend. But native people lost one of the greatest warriors of modern-day times. Truly, he was a great visionary. He was controversial, yes. But he brought issues to the front page.”

But Means’ constant quest for the spotlight raised doubts about his motives. Critics who included many fellow tribe members said his main interest was building his own notoriety.

Means said his most important accomplishment was the proposal for the Republic of Lakotah, a plan to carve out a sovereign Indian nation inside the United States. He took the idea all the way to the United Nations, even though it was ignored by tribal governments closer to home, including his own Oglala Sioux leaders, with whom he often clashed.

For decades, Means was dogged by questions about whether the group promoted violence, especially the 1975 slaying of a woman in the tribe and the gun battles with federal agents at Wounded Knee.

Authorities believe three AIM members shot and killed Annie Mae Aquash on the Pine Ridge reservation on the orders of someone in AIM’s leadership because they suspected she was an FBI informant.

Two activists — Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham — were both eventually convicted of murder. The third has never been charged.

Also in 1975, murder charges were filed against Means and Dick Marshall, an AIM member, in the shooting death of a Sioux man at a saloon in the town of Scenic, S.D. Marshall served 24 years in prison. Means was acquitted.

His activism extended to tribes beyond the United States. In the mid-1980s, Means traveled to Nicaragua to support indigenous Miskito Indians who were fighting the Sandinista government.

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Means grew up in the San Francisco area and battled drugs and alcohol as a young man before becoming an early leader of AIM.

He was a handsome young man.

With his rugged good looks and long, dark braids, he 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 ran unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988 and briefly served as a vice presidential candidate in 1984 on the ticket of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

Means always considered himself a Libertarian and couldn’t believe that anyone would want to call themselves a Republican or a Democrat.

“It’s just unconscionable that America has become so stupid,” he said.

Means often refused interviews and verbally blasted journalists who showed up to cover his public appearances. Instead, he chose to speak to his fan base through YouTube videos and blog posts on his website.

Means recounted his life in the book “Where White Men Fear to Tread.” He said he pulled no punches in the autobiography, admitting to his frailties but also acknowledging his successes.

“I tell the truth, and I expose myself as a weak, misguided, misdirected, dysfunctional human being I used to be,” he said.

Means died at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D. He announced in August 2011 that he had inoperable throat cancer and told The Associated Press that he would forego mainstream medicine in favor of traditional American Indian remedies.

Means’ death came a day after former Sen. George McGovern died in Sioux Falls at the age of 90. McGovern had traveled to Wounded Knee with then-Sen. James Abourezk during the takeover to try to negotiate an end to hostilities.

“I’ve lost two good friends in a matter of two to three days,” Abourezk said Monday. “I don’t pretend to understand it.”

Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said wake services for Means’ will be Wednesday on Pine Ridge, and his ashes will be scattered in the Black Hills on Thursday.

Over the Hills and Through the Woods, To Grandmother’s House I go.

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by urbannight

I’m WAY behind on reading blogs. I’ve dumped a bunch of them into folders to read later. Some are in folders specific to the writer, the rest are in a massive folder called Word Press Saves. Maybe I’ll get caught up before I die.

Hmmmm, probably not. I seem to get behind once a week. So if I’m suddenly replying to things that are rather old, I’ve found some that I got behind on before and to which I have finally gotten.

In the mean time, an unabridged Clive Cussler book is fantastic for long drives. It was about 14 hours long. So it filled my drive each way, 7 hours there and back again. I really enjoyed Lost Empire, despite the huge stretch linking such diverse things that Cussler takes. Or maybe I like him because he is able to do it in a way that creates a roller coaster ride of an adventure store.

It is also why I’m one of the few people who seem to like the movie Sahara, based on his book of the same title. It’s a fun ride despite its flaws. It is a boy’s adventure story all grown up.

The stories sure make the miles fly past when driving. Driving up Iowa and though South Dakota is pretty boring. Rest stops are either too close together or to far apart.

One thing about long drives that really annoys me is when you have signs for gas and you can’t see anyplace from the road. There are some hills along this drive. Some small patches of forested area. But on the whole, not a lot of totally blind areas. Some signs do say the distance to the gas or food from the exit. But I always start to need gas at the towns for which they DON’T provide the distance.

Maybe it is a personal blind spot, but if I pull off the highway for gas, I want to still be in sight of the on and off ramps. I have this fear of getting lost in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe I just watched to many bad horror movies that start where the lone woman, driving across country, pulls into a hole-in-the-wall town for gas and/or food.

Speaking of movies, on the day in-between my two driving days, I watched some movies with grandma. We watched the original, and then the remake, of The Parent Trap. Both have problems but I’ve decided that this is one example where I like the remake better.

In the 1961 remake, I think they cut the girl’s hair short to try to make her look younger. Every time I watch it I can’t stop thinking about how much I hate the haircut. It never fails. It distracts me the entire way through. There is also the fact that the rough and tumble, John Wayne inspired, father (Mitch) is one again going to marry a prissy woman who doesn’t like the outdoors. Which, based on some lines in the movie, seems to be one of the major reason they split up. When the mother (Maggie) punches Mitch in the eye (very badly, no one hits like that) Mitch makes a comment that sounds like Maggie frequently resorted to violence to end arguments with him. The only character that is really amusing is actually the reverend who seems highly amused at the interpersonal relationships and how everything is playing out.

The second movie has a major problem with how strange it seems that a Brit that lives in England would send her daughter to a summer camp in the U.S. Everything else is much more funny. Of course, this was back when Lohan could still take direction and therefore could still act. And she still looked cute as a button. Red hair was so much better on her than that bleached out mess she has now. The ending is also slightly more believable in which the mother backs away and returns to England and this time her ex-husband comes after her, thereby correcting his first mistake of NOT chasing after where when she had hoped she would, years ago.

That is a terrible sentence. But I’m not fixing it. My back hurts too much.

Yep, my back.

Because another thing I learned this weekend was that it is possible to OVER massage a sore muscle. My grandmother has this massaging seat you put over a chair. It does rolling and kneading. It also has heat. You can also isolate it. I was hoping it would loosen up the perpetually sore muscles around my right shoulder blade. I’m not sure how long it lasts before it powers off. I used it through 2.5 power cycles. When I went to bed last night, I lay down and was going to use my percussion massager on the muscles since they were still sore. It hurt like hell. And it still does today.

Before leaving, that Hatfield’s and McCoy’s special came on. I wish I could have stayed to watch it. I got really interested in a matter of minutes. Now I shall have to go find it.