In response to David A. Lehrer’s December 16th piece titled “A Vile Character Performs at the Taper”, I ask those of you who are seeking truths and balance to please visit the Republic of Lakotah website, which documents the vile past and present genocidal policies of the United States of America. I also encourage those same readers and visitors of the Jewish Journal to read my autobiography “Where White Men Fear to Tread”, published by St. Martins Press (on its 15th printing in 15 years) for a truthful personal explanation of how I was and who I am. Then make your judgments upon the truths of my world view. I suggest you also read the following review by the Entertainment Industry‘s most prestigious publication, “Varity” and decide if purchasing tickets to “Palestine, New Mexico” now playing at the Mark Taper Forum is indeed a “brotherhood message for this holiday season“.
I challenge you to judge for yourselves the message of the folly and stupidity of the Patriarchal Cave Man mentality of settling misunderstandings with a club.
As a post script, please do go to google and in short order discover all of my visual citations.
Russell Means, Oglala Lakota Patriot
A leading figure in the American Indian Movement, Means is as well known for his civil rights actions as he is for his movies role, a fact that sits wells with many and not so well with others.
A charismatic figure, Means is often portrayed as a crusader for indigenous people and an unabashed self-promoter, often in the same breath by the same person. The truth is that the man is complex. He’s had numerous run-ins with the law over crimes on a wide variety of charges, some very small (he was arrested during his last attempt at winning Oglala Sioux Tribal chief for missing a federal court date for a series of minor traffic tickets issued in Badlands National Park, others more serious, including a series of battery charges that include one where he tried to make a citizen’s arrest on a Bureau of Indian Affairs official, and others somewhere in between, such as recent state charges that he was fishing in the Black Hills without a license.
Still, he remains the rock star of aboriginal rights in a country where the battle for treaty rights and recognition as a sovereign nation continue to be key issues for a economically depressed and fractured group of people.
Of late, the biggest news he’s made is that he will be facing off against OST prosecutor and state Sen. Theresa Two Bulls for the chairmanship of the tribal council. The ride should be interesting.
But pinning Means down to politics, activism or art, is pointless. He is a complex conglomerate of those mediums and a multitude of many things much more human.
Here’s a quick look at Means in the public eye.
You would think that Means two albums from the 1990s — “Electric Warrior” and “The Radical” — would be getting some serious play on stations other than KILI. I mean, the song names themselves make it nearly worth considering picking up, especially “Ain’t No Prison for the Corporations.”
While the anti-establishment lyrics that bring forth Means’ views of the American Indian’s struggle in today’s United States remain the focus, the wide range of influences musically employed (including country, classical, rock, metal, hip hop, the blues and jazz) on the two recordings is nothing if not ambitious.
Of course, songs such as “Nixon’s Dead A**” might be a little less than timely, but taken in the spirit they were written, not entirely off target either.
The Internet Movie Data Base (imdb) has 32 film and television titles in which Means has appeared, beginning with 1992′s “The Last of the Mohicans.” The longtime activist turned politician turned to primarily acting during a good part of the 1990s. Praised for his role as Chingachgook in “Mohicans,” Means went on to star in a series of American Indian-themed movies, as well as Oliver Stone’s brutal “Natural Born Killers” and a guest appearance on Seifeld creator Larry David’s HBO Series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Of recent interest is an upcoming film called “Rez Bomb.” The plot summary reads as follows: “Set on and around the poorest place in the USA, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Rez Bomb is a love story/thriller about a Lakota girl and a white guy who are very much in love but get themselves into trouble with a brutal money lender and its against the clock for them to bail themselves out.”
Not only does Russell Means make art; he’s also been the subject of art.
A younger Means was the subject of one of Andy Warhol’s celebrity portrait pieces, a style made most famous by his multiple portraits of starlet Marilyn Monroe.
The interpretation states: “Warhol’s image presents Means as a giant celebrity whose noble features have been softened and glamorized. In Warhol’s portrait, Means’ status as celebrity hero takes precedence over his actuality as a person and his political importance.”
In just the past year, Means received world attention for his declaration that he and a group of American Indian leaders were seceding from the United States to form the Republic of Lakotah, a nation formed on the basis of the Treaty of 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
Means announcement that the Lakota(h) people were withdrawing from the treaties because of the United States government’s refusal to recognize key portions of those treaties drew significant attention in the world press (Journal reporters and editors received several calls from foreign press outlets asking such questions as, “What are you going to do now?” and “Are you going to move?”
Locally and nationally, Means move brought less attention, due in part that his declaration wasn’t universally embraced by American Indian tribes within the purported boundaries of the new nation, which stretched across wide swaths of Nebraska and South Dakota.
Whether you take him seriously or not, of particular interest on the official Web site of the Republic is a quote attributed to Mohandas Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Of course, as he runs for tribal office, one would wonder if he could hold chief executive powers over two sovereign nations simultaneously and whether that would make him the equivalent of an emperor.
One might say that Means’ earliest days — from leading the American Indian Movement in their occupation of Alcatraz to the standoff at Wounded Knee — were political acts.
But Means political involvement is far ranging and quite ambitious.
In addition to his three runs for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, he was a candidate for governor of New Mexico but was left off the ballot. But those are small potatoes compared to his efforts to seek the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in 1987, which was ended when he lost a heated race against Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
But some of Means most famous political statements outside of his role as an AIM leader were his fight against the Cleveland Indian baseball franchise and their logo Chief Wahoo that he said “promotes racism against Indian people” and his support of the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua, who had aligned themselves with the U.S.-funded contra guerillas against the Nicaraguan government.