I felt deeply honored when Russell Means and his wife, Pearl Daniels, paid a visit to the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in February. I had recently read his book, Where White Men Fear to Tread, an account of how this self-described "magnet for trouble" navigated a life that was filled with battles -- for Indian rights (he hated the term "Native American). During his 72 years, Russell had been arrested repeatedly, stabbed, beaten and imprisoned for a year for rioting. He had also run for President of the United States and governor of New Mexico, spoken before Congress, been married four times and acted in more than 30 films.
During our conversation, Russell explained how his focus has shifted over the years and told me about his new book, When You Forget the Names of the Clouds, You've Lost Your Way: An Introduction to American Indian Thought and Philosophy. He also shared his vision for an immersion language school in South Dakota to preserve the language, culture and ideals of his people.
Although I knew Russell had battling cancer for over a year when we met, he appeared strong and healthy and I even managed to get a rare smile as he spoke about the future.
I hope that Russell's school will now be created to celebrate the extraordinary warrior who died this week in his beloved Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota.
•To learn more about Russell Means please visit russellmeans.com
•To learn more about Creative Visions Foundation and the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism, please visit creativevisions.org