American icon and patriot Russell Means passed away on October 22, several weeks after a delegation of Lakota leaders told the State Department they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States. Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
Means, 72, died earlier today at his ranch in Porcupine, South Dakota, Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Solomon said. In August 2011, Means announced he had inoperable throat cancer. He eschewed big pharma and medical establishment treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments.
He joined the American Indian Movement in 1968 and staged a number of protests, including occupying the Mayflower II, a replica ship of the Mayflower, and staged a takeover of Mount Rushmore, a federal monument.
In 1973, Means and other AIM activists engaged the FBI in a standoff at Wounded Knee. More than 300 AIM members resisted the government for 71 days.
Unlike other AIM activists, Means held a libertarian political philosophy. He ran for the nomination of President under the banner of the Libertarian Party and came in second in the 1987 Libertarian National Convention, but lost the nomination to Ron Paul. In January 2012, Means backed Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.
In 2007, Means and other American Indian activists backed the non-binding United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and sent a letter to the State Department indicating they would withdraw from all treaties with the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.
Also in 2007, Means and a delegation of activists declared the Republic of Lakota a sovereign nation, with property rights over thousands of square miles in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.