October 15, 2008

The rock star of aboriginal rights

The Fives:  A short course on Russell Means in the public eye[Russell Means] remains the rock star of aboriginal rights in a country where the battle for treaty rights and recognition as a sovereign nation continue to be key issues for a economically depressed and fractured group of people.

Of late, the biggest news he's made is that he will be facing off against OST prosecutor and state Sen. Theresa Two Bulls for the chairmanship of the tribal council. The ride should be interesting.

But pinning Means down to politics, activism or art, is pointless. He is a complex conglomerate of those mediums and a multitude of many things much more human.

Here's a quick look at Means in the public eye.

The music

You would think that Means two albums from the 1990s--"Electric Warrior" and "The Radical"--would be getting some serious play on stations other than KILI. I mean, the song names themselves make it nearly worth considering picking up, especially "Ain't No Prison for the Corporations."

The movies

The Internet Movie Data Base (imdb) has 32 film and television titles in which Means has appeared, beginning with 1992's "The Last of the Mohicans." The longtime activist turned politician turned to primarily acting during a good part of the 1990s.

The art

Not only does Russell Means make art; he's also been the subject of art.

A younger Means was the subject of one of Andy Warhol's celebrity portrait pieces, a style made most famous by his multiple portraits of starlet Marilyn Monroe.

The founder of a nation?

In just the past year, Means received world attention for his declaration that he and a group of American Indian leaders were seceding from the United States to form the Republic of Lakotah, a nation formed on the basis of the Treaty of 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

The politician

One might say that Means' earliest days--from leading the American Indian Movement in their occupation of Alcatraz to the standoff at Wounded Knee--were political acts.

But Means political involvement is far ranging and quite ambitious.

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