Editorial: Russell Means brought Indian issues into a new light

"Russell Means, the Oglala Lakota Sioux protester, organizer and actor who led the American Indian Movement through an era of vivid, often violent protests in the 1970s, didn’t win much in the way of fundamental political and social change. AIM had too much chaos and infighting for that. He didn’t lead a life of exemplary activism: too many courtroom battles and bar brawls, too many guns. When he died on Monday, at age 72, few could look back at his turbulent living and showmanship and setbacks and render any verdict but: Mixed.

Even those who dismiss Mr. Means as an opportunist and sellout, who demean his authenticity and scorn his political stunts, have to acknowledge Wounded Knee.

Wounded Knee, the 1973 siege, came long after Wounded Knee, the 1890 massacre, which ended organized American Indian resistance to white rule. Between both battles was a long period of erasure, in which Indians came to be seen as functionally extinct, living on celluloid and in history books, perhaps, as place names and car models, but not in the larger public consciousness."

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Editorial: On Wounded Knee (The New York Times 10/24)

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