Sadly, Russell Means, Activist, Philosopher, Father, Husband and Hero Now Walks Among His Ancestors

My heart sunk this morning when i learned that Russell Means died at 4:44 am this morning, with the Morning Star, at his home and ranch in Porcupine S.D. Russell Means, for those who don't know, was a Oglala Lakotah elder who, among many other things in his long and interesting life, led the 71-day armed takeover on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee, a tiny hamlet in the heart of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. Much has been written about Russell Means, more will certainly follow. In the video interview below 'Russell Means: Welcome To The Reservation', the man speaks for himself. Russell Means was one of my heroes.

One fascinating part of Russell Means story is how many separate aspects there are to it, and how sympathizers and foes disagree about every single one of them. Means was an early example of a cultural Rorschach test. The 'facts' in such a test are shown to be wholly relative to the emotional values of the person taking the test. A Rorschach test uncovers how our hidden assumptions, our values system, our worldview simply accepts as true those things that fit into it and rejects everything that doesn't.

There were many other people and events throughout my life that have offered the same window into human psychology. Timothy Leary was a prophet to many, the most dangerous man on earth to others. The Vietnam War divided families and generations, each side viewed the same facts, each knew they were 'right', why has always been interesting to me. Omar Khadr offers an excellent present day example. One huge group of Canadians see him as a child soldier wrongly imprisoned and tortured at GITMO, another huge group sees him as a terrorist. Divisive issues like abortion, gay marriage, gun control, global warming and evolution all offer the same opportunity to look into our 'reality' psychosis. In fact on almost of those issues and many more mostly the same groups of people agree and disagree unwaveringly with one perspective.

Climate Change supporters, for instance, continue to believe that if they can just get enough data out the poor ignorant deniers/skeptics will see the error in their thinking and change. The supporters themselves 'deny' there's any other valid worldview despite all the obvious evidence that there is. Both sides of any of these issues refuse to acknowledge that 'the view of the viewer' totally determines what that person accepts as true, it has nothing to do with the data. i too believe what i believe and see what those assumptions show me. In this case they show me that the Lakotah, the Americans, and i lost a great man today.

Russell Means gives an eye-opening 90 minute interview in which he explains how Native Americans and Americans in general are all imprisoned within one huge reservation. Means is a leader for the Republic of Lakotah, a movement that has declared its independence from the United States and refused to recognize the authority of presidents or governments, withdrawing from treaties it made with the federal government and defining its borders which cover thousands of square miles in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana.