Carried to a 12-hour service at South Dakota's Little Wound High School, the smell of burning sage, sweetgrass and cedar wafted through the air as a spiritual cleansing and healing, honouring the 72-year-old chief.
'Prayers were offered outside with a drum and honor songs, then he was escorted in with his wife, Pearl and all his children and grandchildren,' Mean's sister-in-law Natalie Hand told Indian Country Today. 'The ceremony will go on into the night. After that, his family and close relatives among the Oglalas will be carrying his ashes up to the Black Hills and scattering his ashes at Yellow Thunder Camp.'
Russell Means Farewell: Son Cradles His Father on Final Journey
The 12-hour service was attended by more than 1,000 family members, friends and supporters. The ceremony was led by Sundance Chief Leonard Crow Dog, who was with Means when he walked on. He said Means’ soul would travel over four days to the spirit realm, known in Lakota tradition as Happy Hunting Grounds.
Below: "Tatanka Means, a son of Russell Means, carries the urn with Means' ashes into Little Wound High School in Kyle, South Dakota on October 24." (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal)