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  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 casino online 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.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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84 thoughts on “Good-bye To a True Hero — A Tribute”

  1. 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. 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!


  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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,

  7. 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.

  8. 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…

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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. : )

  15. 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!!!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.


    Mellanie “Carrying Flowers” DeLisle

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

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

    Pat Cochran

  30. 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

  31. 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

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

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

  34. 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.


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