Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Over two hundred American Indian people from the San Francisco Bay area gathered on Sunday to remember American Indian Movement leader Russell Means at the Oakland International House. The memorial service was sponsored by AIM-West.
Means, Lakota, passed away from throat cancer on October 22 at this home in Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72.
Members of the Irish Republican Army were among the non-Indian crowd who came to pay their respects to Means' memory.
Means was one of the major figures in the American Indian Movement during the time is its peak during the 1970s.
During that decade, he and Dennis Banks, Ojibwa, were thrust into the national scene when they led takeovers of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC in late 1972 and then Wounded Knee in late February 1973.
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“Russell Means will be remembered as a great individual who not only began things, but was around long enough to finish many of his projects. Because of that, thousands of people have learned to carry on the Movement,”
Dennis Banks, AIM co-founder
said Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, who arrived from Japan late last week to be present at Sunday's memorial service.
“I opened the ceremony with a traditional Ohlone song. I am very active in AIM. Russell Means has always been a hero to me. I am a second generation member of AIM,”
commented Luther Candelaria, Ohlone, a traditional dancer and singer.
“When Russell came here, it was always a privilege to dance for him.”
AIM-West allowed members of the audience to share their memories of Means to end the event.
“He was a great leader my family knew Russell since the late 1940s. He came out of the projects in Vallejo. We know the Means family. My brother went to school with Russell. Our families were the only Native American families in Vallejo, California at that time. Russell was a great leader among American Indian people,”
said Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo.
photo credit Arthur Jacobs;
posted December 10, 2012 8:10 am est