Russell Means (Lakota: Oyate Wacinyapin; is one of contemporary America’s best-known and prolific activists for the rights of American Indians. Means has also pursued careers in politics, acting, and music.
In 1968, Means joined the American Indian Movement and quickly became one of its most prominent leaders. In 1969, Means was part of a group of Native Americans that occupied Alcatraz Island for a period of 19 months. He was appointed the group’s first national director in 1970. Later that year, Means was one of the leaders of AIM’s takeover of Mount Rushmore. In 1972, he participated in AIM’s takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Washington, D.C., and in 1973 he led AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee, which became the group’s most well-known action.