Valarie Tom: One brief encounter with Russell Means in the cold

"I was a reporter with an NBC news station in New Mexico in the winter of 2003. The morning newspaper I was reading reported that Russell Means was going to speak to students at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado that afternoon in a presentation. The college was 70 miles away, north of Farmington, New Mexico. I had just enough time to drive there, get a quick interview and race back to the station for our evening newscast. Being that Fort Lewis College has a large number of Native American students from around the country, I knew it would be an interesting story to cover.

The plan was to attend the speech, get some feedback from the audience and get a quick interview with Means. Simple enough, right? Well, weather in Colorado that day was not in my favor. After driving on slick, icy roads, and following backed up traffic from a trailer tractor driving slow, I had missed Means’s speech.

However, I found some people in the still-packed auditorium who said he had “just left the building.” They were beyond star-struck with meeting him and talking to him. I ran through the building and despite slush and ice on the sidewalk, I spotted Means walking—alone—across the campus toward the parking lot under a Colorado gray sky. It was cold and I was out of breath as I caught up to him.

“Mr. Means, Mr. Means! Hi, wait, please hold on, just a moment of your time. Please. May I interview you real quick? I’d like to share with our viewers what you said today to these college students and what you enjoy most about speaking with students in college.”"

Get the Story:
Valarie Tom: My Brief Encounter With Russell Means (Indian Country Today 10/28)

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