Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Mohicans actor Russell Means dies

Russell Means featured in The Last Of The Mohicans and Natural Born Killers (AP)

Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement (AIM) activist who helped lead a 1973 uprising against the US government and appeared in several Hollywood films, has died at the age of 72.

Means, whose films include The Last Of The Mohicans, led AIM's armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gun battles with federal officers.

Means died at his ranch in South Dakota, Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Salomon said. He announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer.

He said he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favour of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments away from his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

AIM was founded in the late 1960s to protest at the US government's treatment of Native Americans and demand the government honour its treaties with Indian tribes. Means denied the group ever promoted violence.

Means said in 2011 that before AIM, there had been no advocate on a national or international scale for American Indians and that Native Americans were ashamed of their heritage.

"No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewellery," Means said. "That's all changed." The movement eventually faded away as Native Americans became self-aware and self-determined, Means said.

Means also briefly served as a vice presidential candidate in 1984, joining the Larry Flynt ticket during the Hustler magazine publisher's unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination.

His acting career began in 1992, when he portrayed Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye in The Last Of The Mohicans. He also appeared in the 1994 film Natural Born Killers, voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film Pocahontas and guest starred in 2004 on the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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