Laura Waterman Wittstock: Russell Means started a movement

"It would be a shame for Russell Means (1939-2012) to be remembered only as a maker of trouble, an unreasonable negotiator, and someone who pushed the limits of human behavior to the breaking point. I met him when I was an American Indian press reporter in Washington, D.C. back in the early 1970s. He was a board member of the news service, the American Indian Press Association. I was the editor of the Legislative Review, a monthly magazine reporting on national legislation and the federal courts.

Means moved from San Francisco to Cleveland, Ohio in 1970, where an American Indian Movement (AIM) office had been established and came to the nation’s capital in 1971 to demand action from the government. While there, he studied the organizational chart of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and identified John Old Crow, its Deputy Commissioner as the most incompetent apple on the administrative tree. He then called for a strategy session, which he asked that Richard La Course, news director in the Press Association and I cover. We learned AIM’s strategy was to perform a citizen’s arrest of John Old Crow to bring attention to the need to reform the BIA. AIM leaders planned to simply walk into the BIA building and perform the arrest on behalf of all American Indian people."

Get the Story:
Laura Waterman Wittstock: Russell Means: More Than Meets the Eye (Indian Country Today 10/31)

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