Russell Means

Program Description

What was it like growing up to be a Lakota Sioux activist? Russell Means, an Oglala speaker, writer and the actor who played the title role in The Last of the Mohicans, recalls the lessons he heard from his grandfather, his encounters with racism and how he re-discovered ethnic pride and strength, and his involvement in the American Indian Movement (AIM) in its early days. From his firsthand experience with Native American culture and political action, Means tells us what he has learned about history, oppression and freedom, and gives insights into the current political story and what still needs to happen. “I want my people to become free,” he says. “But first (other) Americans have to be free. We’ll never regain our freedom as long as Americans are enslaved.” (hosted by Michael Toms)

Bio

Russell Means (1939-2012) was an Oglala Sioux, Indian activist, and actor who helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee and who later became a Hollywood actor. He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and appeared in numerous films including The Last of the Mohicans. 

His books include:

Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  • Memories of his grandfather and his extended Native American family
  • The Native takeovers of Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and Wounded Knee
  • The recovery of personal identity and pride
  • The early days of the American Indian Movement (AIM)
  • Plymouth Rock and other political protests in the sixties
  • How history is repeating itself in modern America
  • The situation and significance of Leonard Peltier
  • Where racism comes from and what is needed to replace it
  • How older Native elders choose their time of death
  • How Means became an actor
  • His vision of freedom and independence for American Indian peoples
  • The use of Indian spirituality by other peoples

Host: Michael Toms    Interview Date: 10/12/1995   Program Number: 2546

Music included:

From Album: Honor The Earth Powwow: Songs Of The Great Lakes Indians
Artist: produced by Mickey Hart
1991 Rykodisc #RCD-10199
Track – Intertribal Dance Song (LCO Soldiers’ Drum)

From Album: Music for Native Americans
Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble
1994 Capitol / Rykodisc (360 Degrees) #CDP 7243-8-28295-2-2

From Album: AKA Grafitti Man
Artist: John Trudell
1992 Rykodisc #RCD 10223
Track – Rockin the Res

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