Native American activist and actor Russell Means died today at his home on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. An Oglala Lakota Sioux representative said the 72-year-old had been battling esophageal cancer. The cancer spread to his lungs, lymph nodes and tongue.
Means was the first national director of the American Indian Movement. He helped stage numerous protests calling for Native American rights, including the 71-day standoff with federal authorities at Wounded Knee in 1973. The uprising left two activists and one FBI agent dead. After retiring from the movement and running for vice president alongside Republican presidential hopeful Larry Flynt in 1984, Means landed several major acting roles. He made his big screen debut opposite Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. His other film credits include Natural Born Killers, Windrunner: A Spirited Journey and Buffalo Girls.
Means is survived by his fifth wife, Pearl Daniels, and ten children.
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