Russell Means: Native American activist and Hollywood actor
Russell Means was one of the leaders of the Native American armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege in 1973. Russell Means also starred in "The Last of the Mohicans" and was guest star in the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
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Authorities believe three AIM members shot and killed Aquash on the Pine Ridge reservation on the orders of someone in AIM's leadership because they suspected she was an FBI informant. Two activists — Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham — were eventually convicted of murder. The third has never been charged.Skip to next paragraph
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Means blamed Vernon Bellecourt, another AIM leader, for ordering Aquash's killing. Bellecourt denied the allegations in a 2004 interview, four years before he died.
Also in 1975, murder charges were filed against Means and Dick Marshall, an AIM member, in the shooting death of Martin Montileaux at the Longbranch Saloon. Marshall served 24 years in prison. Means was acquitted.
But Means always considered himself a Libertarian and couldn't believe that anyone would want to identify as either a Republican or a Democrat.
"It's just unconscionable that America has become so stupid," he said.
His acting career began in 1992, when he portrayed Chingachgook alongside Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye in "The Last of the Mohicans." He also appeared in the 1994 film "Natural Born Killers," voiced Chief Powhatan in the 1995 animated film "Pocahontas" and guest starred in 2004 on the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Means recounted his life in the book "Where White Men Fear to Tread." He admitted to his frailties and evils but also acknowledging his successes.
"I tell the truth, and I expose myself as a weak, misguided, misdirected, dysfunctional human being I used to be," he said.
Means' death came a day after former U.S. Sen. George McGovern died in South Dakota at the age of 90. McGovern had traveled to Wounded Knee with U.S. Sen. James Abourezk during the 71-day siege to try to negotiate an end.
"I've lost two good friends in a matter of two to three days," Abourezk said Monday. "I don't pretend to understand it."
Associated Press writer Kristi Eaton contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.