A memory of Russell Means, whom I never met.
Russell Means died yesterday at the age of 72.
Means was a leader of the American Indian Movement that led the uprising at Wounded Knee in 1973.
I never met him. I would have liked to.
In 1973 I drove my 1968 little green Volkswagon in my move from LA to Chicago.
All across the western part of the US I followed the events at Wounded Knee on the radio.
At a stop in Gallup, New Mexico local Native people were protesting the shooting of a young Native teenager by the local police.
It was just a few years after the seizure of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay by Native Americans. That was in 1969. America was revealing its history and its diversity. Or rather America was having its history and diversity revealed to it.
Russell Means was one of those who led the revelation.
As I got closer to Chicago, the radio reported that a group of American Indian Movement supporters was staging a sit-in at the Chicago office of Adlai Stevenson who was an Illinois Senator at the time. Rather than go directly to a friend’s home, which I had originally intended to do, I headed to the federal building in the Loop. I parked, took the elevator to Stevenson’s office where I joined the sit-in.
Things ended peacefully with no arrests.