|Means was born November 10, 1939 on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near the Black Hills of South Dakota. In the late 60s, Means began his fight for Indian rights with the "American Indian Movement" (AIM). He became the first national director of AIM and has remained active in the movement for the past 27 years. |
In 1969, Means was among the Indian activists who occupied San Francisco's Alcatraz Island in an AIM-led protest lasting 19 months. In 1973, he helped lead the AIM take over of Wounded Knee. In occupying this site of a 1890s massacre of Indians by US cavalry, AIM was attempting to regain lands granted to the Lakota in the 1868 Laramie treaty. Both events brought worldwide attention to the injustices and privation faced by American Indians past and present.
As an actor, Means has appeared in such films as "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992), "Natural Born Killers" (1994) and provided the voice of "Powhatan" in Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995). St. Martin's Press published Mean's autobiography, "Where White Men Fear to Tread," in 1995.
Means and his wife Pearl are currently building "Treaty Total Immersion School" on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Through "total immersion" in the Lakota way of life, children will be instilled with the pride and confidence to face any challenge.
Means is currently selling a series of limited edition prints of his original art to benefit the Total Immersion School, a 501(c)3 entity. This series, called "The Indian Killers," includes the following paintings:
General Armstrong Custer (1839-1876)
Christobal Colon, AKA Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
George Washington (1732-1799)
Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888)
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
Christopher ("Kit) Carson (1809-1868)
Daniel Boone (1734-1820)
David ("Davy") Crockett (1786-1836)
Reverend J.M. Chivington (1820-1894)
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
General George Cook (1828-1890)
Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784)
Russell Means on George Armstrong Custer
General Custer, known among the Cheyenne and Lakota as "One Who Attacks the Defenseless" was known to be so cowardly that no one wanted the dishonor of killing him. Among the Indian Peoples, we believe men and women who do evil should be allowed to live, so they have to deal with their demons and tortured spirits.
Custer had attacked defenseless Indian encampments at the Washita and other areas. He thought he was doing the same at the Little Bighorn.
According to white man archaeologists, Custer charged a Cheyenne and Lakota encampment purported to house 7,000 Indians with his measly Battalion of 250 poorly trained Irish and Polish immigrants.
Now, I am going to expose the big lie.. According to American mythology, Americans are super heroes who always overcome overwhelming odds. If they fail to do so, like at Custer or the Alamo, they fight heroically until the super leader is killed dramatically as the last man standing. And the only reason they lost is because of super overwhelming odds. Now, lets examine 7,000 Indians encamped along the river the Lakota call the Greasy Grass.
Assuming, we savage Indians at least believed in zero population growth, we must assume 1,000 men, 1,000 women, 2,000 children and 3,000 elders. Based on the white man's assumption that our lives were arduous, 1,000 of our elders have already died which leaves us with an encampment of at least 2,500 tee pees. Assuming that primitive savages do not have the where with all to eat three meals a day, let us estimate two meals a day per family and because we believe in eating a family meal as a unit this would require 2,000 cooking fires per day. Remember, this is the Northern Plains, which begs the question "where do we get the wood?"
With 2,000 camping fires per day, one would be able to see the smoke from the fires 50 miles away, especially from the high ground that surrounds the valley of the Little Bighorn. Also, at that time in our history, we prided ourselves with the ownership of horses. The more horses one owned the more honorable and wealthy one was considered. At that time, our mature and older men possessed herds of horses.
It would be safe to conservatively estimate that we would have at the very least 12 horses per family, based on 7 people per family. Each grown male, 13 and older, would possess a minimum of four horses. Let us say for the seven member family unit; we had a horse for each elder, one to drag the belongings with an adult female, a horse for the children and a horse for the adult male. That equates to six horses, so at minimum subsistence level, the Lakota encampment would have had approximately 6,000 horses. This herd of 6,000 horses, which were well trained, were allowed to roam free. Due to prevailing winds, they most likely grazed to the southeast of the encampment directly in the path of Custer.
Have you ever seen 1,000 horses? Or 600 horses? Or even 100 horses? That is a massive amount of animals. The ridiculousness of attempting on the Northern Plains in 1876 to prepare a minimum of 14,000 meals per day is beyond sane comprehension. The very idea that Custer would charge through nearly 6,000 horses is ludicrous. The Crow Indians have told me there were only 200-220 lodges, which means there may have been as much as 1,500 Indian people there. Speaking logistically, that number would mean about 250 warriors were available.
Now we are talking with sanity. It is my experience, as a member of the American Indian Movement, every time the white man is going to fight Indian people, he adds a zero and sometimes two zeros before the decimal point!
In brief, what actually happened is the Cheyenne went out and captured Custer's supply wagons while our men and women were charging at Custer as he was approaching. When the Polish and Irish recruits saw 500 to 600 elders, women and men charging, they turned tail and actually began committing suicide. No one wanted to touch Custer, so some women went out to chase him away. As he was riding away, he looked back and saw Indians, not knowing if they were men or women pursuing him, Custer shot himself in the head. This is the story I heard from my Grandmother as her Grandmother was there.
It is an accepted fact among Indian people, whose ancestors told them these truths, Custer did in fact kill himself.
I challenge each of you to re-think the logistics of this 1876 Indian encampment and draw your own obvious conclusion