Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Monday, October 22nd, Russell Means passed from this earth. 

One of the creators of the American Indian Movement and one of many (along with Dennis Banks and Leonard Crow Dog) who hunkered down at the siege of Wounded Knee (in Pine Ridge, South Dakota) in February, 1973.  If you want to read some real history, you may want to read his story. 

I never met the man but I did meet Dennis Banks, on a flight from Cincinnati to San Francisco back in 1994.  Back then, Northern Kentucky University hosted an annual New Year's powwow and he was helping organize it.  I was on my way from Cincinnati to San Francisco and then on to Sydney, Australia for 10 days of touring the eastern countryside.  Mr. Banks walked down the aisle of the plane in a full length, dark brown duster, skimming the floor over his worn boots.  His hair in black braids and hanging over his coat front, he was an impressive thing to see.  I stopped him in the aisle and said, "Are you Dennis Banks?"  He said, in a quiet voice, "Yes, I am."  I reached out my hand and said, "It's an honor to meet you."  He found me when we landed in San Francisco and invited me to the powwow, but I was unable to go.

Russell Means and Dennis Banks were synonymous with the American Indian Movement in the 1970's and the 71-day siege of Wounded Knee.  Mary Crow Dog's son was born during those 71 days where American Indian Movement members stood against the injustices they saw all around them with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the federal government's broken treaties with all American Indian tribes dating back to the original Wounded Knee massacre of 1890.  Means and Banks survived the Wounded Knee takeover of 1973; neither did any jail time after so much malfeasance and wrongdoing that the government had to throw out the FBI's case against them.  Mr. Banks continued to protest, speak and educate wherever he went after Wounded Knee 1973 made him and the American Indian Movement famous/infamous.

The father says so -- E'yayo!
The father says so -- E'yayo!
You shall see your grandfather!
You shall see your kindred -- E'yayo!
The father says so.
A'te he'ye lo.

O'mitak'yi a'sin. 
Walk on, cousin.


Debbie Nolan said...

Rhonda - very interesting story - so glad you got to meet this gentleman. Have a good day.

Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Rhonda,
Who knew? I must say this post is a revelation in the best sense. Most of us seem to hide our political or social beliefs and let our art speak for us. All things considered, life in the blog-o-sphere is just easier this way. On the other hand...
What a wonderful story and delight to know how you feel about the (in hindsight) horrible way our ancestors treated native peoples.
Let us hope your many followers share our appreciation of the struggle of native tribes to simply remain in existence.
Great post, Rhonda.

CrimsonLeaves said...

What a fabulous post, Rhonda. I enjoyed reading every word of it. I too have a heart for the Native Americans...

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Debbie, Gary, and Sherry! Gary, being part Apache and Cherokee, I was taught to be proud of my heritage. I was too young in the 70's to join the movement - but I studied and learned more than was taught in my history classes in school :)