It was announced the other day that a great icon of American culture had just been diagnosed with an advanced case of throat cancer. That highly public figure just happens to go by the name of Russell Means. Means who is best known as an American Indian activist and professional actor, was recently diagnosed by the mainstream medical community, as having an inoperable form of throat cancer. In a mover that seems to be right up Russell’s alley, the American Indian activist announced that he fight the cancer using traditional Native American methods of treatment. According to doctors who examined the South Dakota man, he has only several months to live.
Remembering The American Indian Movement
It seems odd that I should be writing this post from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city where Russell Means, Dennis Banks and a handful of other dedicated activists launched a movement and attitude that vastly improved the conditions of American Indians. Several days ago I even walked down the street that currently supports several Native American culture centers and other similar resources. I am old enough to have remembered well the Indian uprising that came on the heels of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. Even though I was living in upstate New York at the time, their efforts signaled a new age of toleration and challenges. It was a remarkable time that also saw many other issues, such as environmental action and woman’s rights, come to the national forefront. The Los Angeles Times once labeled Russell Means as the most notable Indian since Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull. More than one admirer has suggested that somehow Means is channeling the spirit of Crazy Horse.
Like many Native American orators that came before Means has had a remarkable way with words. Here are some of his words that definitely stand out, at least in my mind.
“I hate the word Native American. Its a government term, which was created in the year 1970 in the Department of the Interior, a generic term that describes all the prisoners of the United States of America.”
“”Indian policy” has now been brought down upon the American people, and the American people are the new Indians of the 21st Century.”
“The one thing I`ve always maintained is that I`m an American Indian. I`m not politically correct. Everyone who`s born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans.”
“All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That`s revolution.”
I hope this post does not sound too much like an obituary, for I am hoping than Means beats the odds and survives the doctor’s prognosis. However, if the news reports are true his condition is severe, but I do hope he survives.