You are Free to be Responsible – Russell Means RIP

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Peter Holle

Earlier this week the world lost a true warrior when cancer claimed the life of Russell Means, a prominent Indian activist who fought hard for aboriginal dignity and greater freedom in general.

Back in September 2004, Frontier hosted him for a series of speaking events and media appearances in Winnipeg. We described him back then as “America’s Most Famous Indian”. He definitely was one of our more thought provoking speakers which will become obvious to anyone who goes back into the vast Frontier Centre web archive to recount the events and dialogue we had with this physically and intellectually imposing man.

From his interview from our conversation with him at (click here):

On ending the Bureau of Indian Affairs (the US counterpart to Canada’s Department of Indian Affairs, now renamed Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development):  “Anyone of integrity in the world would be insulted that their government has a department that is strictly to oversee an ethnic group. That is Hitlerlism, that is apartheid, that’s everything this country and any country should be against. Let’s create a bureau of Jewish affairs and see how long that lasts, or a bureau of African affairs.”

When we asked why do you prefer the term Indian to aboriginal or native American he responded – “Because the word “Indian” is an English bastardization of two Spanish words, “in Dio”, in with God.”

In response to “What will North American Indian culture look like in a hundred years if you had your way? “Our ancestors were free, so our future is our past. We have to become a free people and the first axiom of freedom is responsibility. You are free to be responsible.”

Here are some recommended audio and video to give you a taste of Russell Means, easily one of the more iconoclastic guests of the Frontier Centre.

The video of his speech can be seen here.

His interview on NCI, a Manitoba radio network that serves First Nations communities is especially powerful, click here.

There are several more items which can be found by googling Russell Means on the Frontier website.

Frontier still has a few copies of a poster we produced featuring Russell Means (see above). Just drop us a line and we will be happy to mail you a copy.