For years the indigenous peoples of the U.S., after having been dispersed and decimated and relegated to reservations, were reduced to caricatures. We all knew Indians and their culture. There was the familiar medicine man, the trading post, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, papooses and squaws, tepees and tomahawks, war dances and war parties. Tonto was the epitome of faithfulness and subservience. The formation and rise of the American Indian Movement, AIM, in the late 1960s and early 1970s did much to break down conventional stereotypes. AIM, through its actions at Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demonstrated that Native Americans could and would fight back against racism and oppression.
Russell Means was a renowned activist for Indian Rights. An Oglala Lakota, he was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was a founding member of the American Indian Movement and its first national director. His autobiography is Where White Men Fear to Tread. He passed away in 2012.