Good-bye To a True Hero — A Tribute

Good Morning (or afternoon or evening)!

This is my very first blog on the new site.  I hope that you all are loving the new site.  I think the new look is downright genius.

Well, today we lost a true hero of the American Indian Movement and to the Lakotah Republic.  Russell Means passed away today (Monday) in the very early hours of the morning.

Although I didn’t know Russell Means personally, I had once talked with him on talk radio back in 2007 when he had joined forces with others of the Lakotah Tribe to establish The Republic of Lakotah.  Off to the left here is a early photo of him — in his younger days.

Russell Means was a very good man.  After reading the terrible LA Times story of his departure from his body, I found myself a little hot under the collar.  They probably used the ugliest photo they could find and centered in on his days the American Indian Movement from back in the 70′s.  The article carried nothing of all his accomplishments, including his part in establishing The Republic of Lakotah, separating itself from the current government and declaring itself free, and offering freedom to anyone who would come and reach for it.

So let me tell you what I know from reading a bit about his life, and from listening to Russell on his site www.russellmeansfreedom.com.  He was born on the Pineridge Reservation, but his family moved to the San Francisco area when he was young.  Russell gained fame when he joined the American Indian Movement, which was a movement to try to establish by force the sovereignty of the Lakotah Nation.  It was always his intention to bring his people back to the freedom they had once enjoyed.

I have often gone to Russell’s website to listen to him talk about the Lakotah and their way of life and bringing freedom back to his people.  When he and his friends established the Republic of Lakotah, he, however, invited people of all races to come to the Republic and enjoy the freedom that keeps getting less and less in our modern society.  It was his dream — and those of his friends — to establish a place — a haven, if you will — where anyone could come and enjoy a life filled with freedom.

So again, although I didn’t know him personally, let me tell you the things I know about this very good man.  Back in the 1970′s — perhaps the latter part of — Russell helped members of my church set up a drug rehab center, there in the heart of the Indians Nations in Oklahoma — Narconon.  He didn’t hesitate to help when help was needed.

Russell, in the picture to the left, is the one talking — again in his younger days.  I believe the picture was taken in the 1970′s during the stand-off on the Lakotah Reservation.  Now, here’s a little known fact:  In the late 80′s Russell had been one of the candidates nominated to run for President on the Libertarian Ticket.  He lost to Ron Paul, but it had been a close race.  Imagine having a President who was American Indian.  Seems fitting somehow. 

And of course, how can we ever forget him in the role of the father — I can’t remember the name right now — in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.  He might have been the elder of the threesome that starred in that movie, but he was still very handsome, by far.

I believe that he was also the voice of the chief in Disney’s Pocahontas, as well.

He was a writer, a politican, an actor and a liberator.  He was not only a very talented man and an artist and activist, he was a very good man, and he will be missed.  I will miss him.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to Russell’s website to learn more about the American Indian way of life.  Thanks to the internet and the ability of almost anyone to post videos, I have come to feel as if I knew him.

I hope you will join me in wishing him well on his journey to join his ancestors.  I sincerely believe that our loss is someone else’s gain in another place and another time.  I am so thankful, Russell, that you lived.  Others are alive today because you lived.  And others are living better lives today because you lived and worked to improve their lot.  Thank you for all that you did.

Good-bye Russell Means – a true American hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Blackfeet Reservations, Kay is here with her husband, Paul.

Written by Karen Kay

KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great-great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.

Visit Karen Kay's website


84 Comments on “Good-bye To a True Hero — A Tribute”

  1. Vickie Couturier says:

    Karen,,I saw that he had passed but didnt remember him in the movies until I saw your pictures ,,an yes he was a great charactor,,you gave him a great post,thanks

  2. Sherry Allman says:

    Wow what a life he lived. He filled his life full meaning and joy.

  3. Renee Ryan says:

    Karen,

    What a great post and tribute to a great American hero. Thank you for the filling in a lot of holes for me. I never realized he worked so tirelessly for his nation. Truly inspiring!

    ~Renee~

  4. diane says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a great man.

  5. amy c says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard about his passing.

  6. anon1001 says:

    Thank you for jogging my memory.

  7. Margaret Brownley says:

    Karen, thank you for your post and wonderful tribute. You always do such a great job keeping us informed on Native Americans.

    Hugs!

  8. Karen Kay says:

    Thank you so much, Vickie. He will truly be missed.

  9. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Sherry!

    You are so right. He lived his life to do the best he could for himself, his family and his people.

  10. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Troy!

    Aho!

  11. Hilltop Farm Wife says:

    Thank you for this post. Whether you agreed with his position or not Russell Means did many things to make all Americans aware of the need for American Indians’ civil rights equal to every other racial or ethnic group in this great country of ours.

  12. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Renee!

    Yes, he truly was a hero. He got bad press, but then our press is controlled by forces behind the scenes that work to take our freedoms — not keep them strong.

    I never believe anything I read in the press. Never. In truth, it’s a 180 degree opposite vector. Look in the exact opposite direction if one wants to know the truth.

  13. Karen Kay says:

    Thank you so much, Diane!

  14. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Amy!

    I’m sorry that my post was the first that you heard of it. I was on his newsletter list and so I heard of it the moment I opened my email yesterday morning. Thanks for your comment.

  15. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Anon!

    Yes, upon looking at it, it jogged my memory, also.

  16. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Margaret!

    Wow! Thank you for you wonderful compliment. You are most gracious!

  17. CrystalGB says:

    Great tribute to an amazing person.

  18. Melinda Elmore says:

    Kay,

    Good morning to you sweetie. I too know Russell Means. He was a hero and a man that will be miss in Indian Country. I had total respect for him. I know his ancestors are happy to have him in the spirit world. He will still walk this earth protecting his family….He fought for his people’s rights and that alone moves mountains. I cried when I read he has crossed over. He will be missed and never forgotten. Thanks for sharing.

    Walk with your ancestors Russ until we meet again.

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  19. Goldie Hale says:

    It was interesting to read your great grandmother was Choctaw. My grandmother was Choctaw.

  20. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Crystal!

    I couldn’t agree more. :)

  21. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Melinda!

    I’m so glad that you came here today. And thank you for adding your own tribute to this man who did so much.

  22. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Goldie!

    Wow! So nice to see it. That part of my family comes from Wooden family in So. Illinois. Apparently on the Trail of Tears, many of the Choctaw “jumped ship” so to speak and traveled up the Mississippi. I believe that this is what my ancestors did.

  23. Valri Western says:

    Thanks for reminding us of a true hero!

  24. Kathleen O says:

    Shame on the newspaper for slighting such a person. The world needs to know of his accomplishments and I think you should write to the editor of the paper and do your own story on this man, showing his true self worth. Thanks for sharing his life with us…

  25. Tanya Hanson says:

    Chingachgook was the character in Mohicans. (Actually in the Leatherstocking tales, Chin. was the father, Uncas was the son. Why it’s switched in the movie I never knew. Sorry, trivia from my American Lit teaching days.)

    I always love learning about Native culture and people from you, Kay. And I remember Russell and his passions. I guess because people died at Wounded Knee, he got labeled with violence. Sad.

  26. Maria D. says:

    Great post Karen – I couldn’t remember his name in the movie either but he did an excellent job acting in the film. He lived a full life and was definitely a leader for his people. He will be missed.

  27. Emma Metz says:

    Kay sorry to hear about Russell. I saw him in movies especially Last of the Mohicans. He play chingachok. I watch the movie all the time. He did a lot for the Native Americans. People can be proud of him for all of his special works. I keep trying to find my gggrandmothers history she was from the erie tribe of lenape indians. I hope to find her indian name.
    Again the native american people had a special man in Russell. Not many people stick up for the indians.

  28. Mary J says:

    Thank you, Kay, for the great tribute to a fallen hero. He was a hero in our family. We had autographed photos around the house.
    I lived in Northern California when the American Indian Movement started. He was my hero way back then. Living in the white community, that was not a popular thing. We survived.
    I never saw him in a movie, but he had a commanding personality and would have been great.I’m glad I didn’t see the LA Times or I would have been angry, too.
    Thank you, again.

  29. Gary Henderson says:

    Russell was a true AMERICAN hero. As a Native American (37.5% Mi’Kmaq, or Micmac) he was one of my PERSONAL heroes. A true activist who wanted nothing more and would settle for nothing less than justice for Native Americans.
    He will be sorely missed.

  30. Karen Kay says:

    HI Valri!

    Thank you so much for your comment. He will be missed.

  31. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Kathleen O!

    You’re right, of course. But I don’t read and don’t set stock in any newspaper that deals more in propaganda than truth. In fact, it really is a 180 degree reverse vector. If the paper says it is, you know it isn’t. If the paper says it isn’t, you know it is. So I guess there’s a way of knowing the truth. : )

  32. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Tanya!

    Thanks so much for the name. I’ve watched it often, but last night when I was posting, the name escaped me. Thanks again.

  33. catslady says:

    That was lovely. I have a friend online who sent me some information on him – one of the good things about the internet is that it can keep you informed on many topics. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an American Indian as president!!!

  34. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Maria D!

    Interestingly when I was setting up my characters for SENECA SURRENDER, I kept thinking I’d use either the leading man or the younger Indian for as my guide. I was surprised when my mind kept going back to Russell as the role model. Interesting. This is from the movie, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.

  35. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Emma!

    Thank you so much for that name. Now I remember it. And thank you for your wonderful post. So nice to see you here!

  36. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Mary J!

    Wow, thank you so much for your comment. You had autographed copies of pictures, huh? Nice. I loved what you had to say about him.

    Early on I had heard bad comments about him, and I was deceived — but as I learned more and more about him, and what he had done and what he stood for, I gained more and more respect for him. Thanks again.

  37. Karen Kay says:

    You know, Gary, we’ve been friends for a long time and in all this time I didn’t know that you had Native American heritage. Thanks for your comment.

  38. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Catslady!

    Yes, yes, and yes. So nice to see your comment.

  39. Mellanie says:

    Greetings Kay,

    I wanted to simply state that I as a First Nations Member, more specifically the Kannienkehaka Nation at Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Canada that we are all at a loss with Russell’s passing. Sadly there is not a lot of history for people to resort to in order to find out who and what Russell meant to ALL registered Native Nations. He was a man of great courage, honor, respect,strength and determination to keep our Native Nations alive and NOT forgotten. I send my prayers across the miles throughout Indian Country especially the family Russell leaves behind. May the Creator guide his path and his moccassins tread lightly to the skyworld. R.I.P Russel you will forever be missed BUT never forgotten.

    Tho Niiawenake, Sken:nen

    Mellanie “Carrying Flowers” DeLisle

  40. Na S. says:

    I enjoyed learning about about him than I have previously known. His life is very interesting.

  41. LaShaunda says:

    Karen,

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute. I didn’t know who he was by name, but I did see him in the movie and recognized his face. He did great works and that will always be remembered by his people and friends.

    Thanks for sharing his memory.

  42. Goldie Hale says:

    Close again. My grandmother was a Wooten. They were all from Oklahoma, which is where we still live.

  43. Mellanie says:

    For anyone who may have interest you can google his name and will fine mucch available information. Another person of interest who was a very close and personal friend with Russsell is Leonard Peltier may I suggest the book “Bury my Heat at Wounded KNee” very true but sad story of what the men of the American Indian Movement have gone through and continue to be faced with, here is a historical view of how My people are continually treated.

    Skennen

    Mellanie “Carrying Flowers” DeLisle

  44. Deb Stover says:

    Thank you, Karen.

  45. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Mellanie!

    Your 2 posts are extremely enlightening. Yes, the Native American men do face quite a bit of antagonism if they are to try to save their people. Unfortunately, it also appears to me that this has been set upon the African American as well as the European American — in the form of female hormones in the foods and plastics we eat and all other kinds of forms of poisons in order to bring down the male to a more subservient position. Thank the Good Lord for men like Russell Means who persisted despite it all.

  46. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Na S!

    Yes, he was quite a hero — an honest to goodness American hero.

  47. Karen Kay says:

    Hi La Shaundra!

    Thanks for your thoughts and comment and for coming here today. So nice to see you here.

  48. Megan Kelly says:

    Thanks for posting this. I knew a little about him, or so I thought. Putting “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” closer to the top of my TBR pile. Sadly, too few people stand for what they believe.

  49. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Goldie!

    Wow! That is wonderful. I’m not so sure of the name, Wooten — my grandmother’s name was Wooden. It might have been changed slightly because that part of the family didn’t keep strict records.

  50. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Deb!

    Thank you so much for your post, Deb — an author whom I adore very much. Nice of you to post.

  51. Sarah Coiner says:

    Interestingpost today

  52. MarthaE says:

    Thanks Kay for sharing this wonderful tribute post (and thanks for the email to bring me here to visit – it’s been too long.) It is nice to learn more of this good man.
    I appreciate and share your great respect for our Native American people.

  53. MarthaE says:

    Well I said Kay and it should have been Karen – sorry about that. I should proof before I hit send, not after.

  54. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Megan!

    Wow, that is so well said. So well said. Thank you!

  55. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Thank you so very, very much!

  56. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Martha!

    Thank you so much for coming here today, also, and sharing your comments with us. And you know I go by “Kay” to my friends. : )

  57. charlene sands says:

    Wonderful post, Kay!! I enjoyed the tribute to a great man!

  58. Colleen says:

    Sad news, but your post is a wonderful tribute to him! Thank you for sharing Kay!

  59. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Charlene!

    Thank you so much!

  60. Karen Kay says:

    Thanks so much for your comments, Colleen. You are so right.

  61. Carol Didier says:

    As always Karen, it was wonderful to read your post on Russell Means. You make history come alive for us with your research. He was truly a brave and dedicated man. I just happened to see him in a movie the other night called Into the West. Wow, talk about timing. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I had not heard of his passing. Carol Ann

  62. Jes says:

    Thanks for providing the link to http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com where I was able to read and learn more about him.

  63. Quilt Lady says:

    Wow what a great post and a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.

  64. Karen Kay says:

    Hello Carol Ann,

    Thank you for your so welcome compliments, Carol. I only knew about it because I’m on his email list — and have often gone to his website to hear him speak. I awoke yesterday and upon checking email found an email from “him” which turned out to be his wife and children — telling us of his passing. Thanks so much for your words.

  65. Karen Kay says:

    You are so welcome, Jes. I was a frequent visitor to his site. : )

  66. Karen Kay says:

    Hi Quilt Lady!

    Thank you so much for your kind words. And thanks for coming here today.

  67. Connie J. says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have long been an admirer of Russel Means. He will be missed by those who loved and admired him.

  68. Patricia B. says:

    I remember his involvement and troubles during the Pineridge Reservation action. The name of his character in LAST O THE MOHICANS was Chingachgook.
    He certainly lived a long and varied life.

    May he find peace on his journey.

  69. Pat Cochran says:

    Thanks for the excellent commentary. A beautiful tribute for a beautiful man! We wish Russell Means a peaceful journey!

    Pat Cochran

  70. Stefanie D says:

    He great tribute to a great person. It’s sad to see him go…

  71. Tammy Boylan says:

    What a beautiful soul Russel was. He will be truly missed. Rest in peace.

  72. Mel K. says:

    OMG. Karen, thank you for sharing this news. I liked Russell. I have a friend who knew him. My friend is a Blackfoot/Maliseet grass dancer and he met Russell in CT at a pow wow. He always told me Russell was very nice. This is sad news indeed.
    We haven’t spoken in ages! I live in Texas now. If you’re not too busy please e-mail me sometime. Thanks again.

    Mel K.
    Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

  73. akima castaneda says:

    You have left a legacy of puting common sense of the true past,into context.Many warriors male and female will unite a be proud to continue to fight for what is naturally right from wrong.All of our time here is like a wink of an eye.But very few make an eye opener. “tantay” brother till the next time we meet

  74. Karen Kay says:

    Hi there, brother Akima!

    Thanks so much for your common sense and for your wisdom. Sending you and yours much love!

  75. Karen Kay says:

    Thanks so much for your kind, kind words, Mel. :)

  76. Karen Kay says:

    Good morning, Pat, and thank you so much for your comment!

  77. Karen Kay says:

    Wonderful observations, Patricia, and thank you!

  78. Cathy P says:

    Karen, thank you for such a wonderful and informative post. Russell Means was indeed a great man and will be missed by many.

  79. Jackie Smith says:

    Great tribute……I found the post very interesting!!
    Jackie S.

  80. Laurie G says:

    Thanks for your insights into this man’s life and beliefs. He was a wonderful representative of the Lakotah people.

  81. Carol Burge says:

    I was so sorry to hear about Russell’s passing. Of course I recognized him from MOHICANS, but I didn’t know his real name, or much about him personally.

    Thank you for enlightening us and for sharing what you know about this great man, Karen. I know he will be missed by many.

    ~Carol

  82. Veronica says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. Sounds like he was an interesting and inspiring man.

  83. tami bates says:

    omg, he was such a great actor