Russell Means Battles Throat Cancer Through Lakota Ways

Russell Means Battles Throat Cancer Through Lakota Ways


Native Sun News reported that Russell Means—the 72-year-old Lakota political activist, actor, writer, producer, and dabbler in music—is battling terminal esophageal, or throat, cancer.

The tireless advocate for a "free" indigenous people has opted against western medical procedures to potentially prolong his life, and instead chosen to face what he calls a "white man's disease" through Lakota spiritual "connectedness" to present and ancestral Lakota people. Doctors estimate he has a few months left to live.

In a telephone interview with Native Sun News, Means detailed his proudest accomplishments: "founding of a Lakota immersion school, the co-founding of both a community health clinic and a radio station, his instrumental and continued involvement in the Republic of Lakotah, and his most recent filmmaking endeavors."

Some of Means' most widely acclaimed moments include when he led the "71-day armed takeover on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee," and when "Means joined The Longest Walk in 1978 to protest a new tide of anti-Indian legislation including the forced sterilization of Indian women," according to his website

In a review of his 1995-published autobiography: Where White Men Fear to Tread, the Washington Post called Means: “one of the biggest, baddest, meanest, angriest, most famous American Indian activists of the late twentieth century,” reported Native Sun News.

Mean's leading roles in the entertainment industry include performing in The Last of the Mohicans, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, John Candy's comedy Wagons East and acting as the ghost of Jim Thorpe in Wind Runner. He also served as the voice of  Pocahontas' father in Disney's Pocahantas, amongst many other roles. For a full list of his star roles and appearances, visit

Read more about the man the Los Angeles Times once described as the “most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse."

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ojibwe's picture
Submitted by ojibwe on
With all due respect, given the thousands of lies he has told for so many years, this is not a surprising development. Even so, I wish no one to suffer and we can hope that the wasichu culture that he claims to so despise can use its medicine to help in his healing.

citationsii's picture
Submitted by citationsii on
Russell Means is not the person HE believes himself to be; Just ask his former father-in-law in Navajoland. I find it comical since he's only into self promotion, karma would target that part of the body!! To be admit being broke and blindly soliciting donations affirm lack of character and/or not having honor. As a full blood with documentation muyself, I find his image self serving and coming to an end very quickly.

advocate's picture
Submitted by advocate on
It takes a vicious, petty person to post a negative, smug, self-righteous condemning comment after reading an article about Russell having throat cancer etc. As far as his actions with his father-in-law: he comments on it himself in his writings including his book Where White Men Fear to Tread. His personal mistakes are just that- and he recalls the errors he made when drinking prior to seeking help. I cannot imagine anyone holding a grudge against him after all those years when it is between God and Russell AND his father-in-law. To negate the years of advocacy he has traveled, spoken, written and worked so hard for preservation of American Indian culture is ignorant. Even if you dont agree with his views, one must concede he has fearlessly devoted HIS time and energy on this planet to do what HE believes is RIGHT. Many people give lip service to their opinions, never getting OUT there to actually DO something to make a difference. I have met Russell and know he is a strong and very focused Indian man with a lot of love for American Indian culture and people. THAT is what is striking about him- his passion and focus for what he believes IS helpful including getting arrested, marching (against border alcohol use and abuse etc) etc. He could have spent his time and money simply enjoying life and doing NOTHING which I think is what many people who are so evil with their words and thoughts against him accomplish; nothing. I am sorry for his pain and diagnosis, proud of his acceptance of it but not surrendering to death, and his askance for donations are HIS business. The old saying if you dont have something nice to say say nothing comes to mind. Life is a gift, and those who pretend to have the righteious judgement of the Creator are delusional. I send him strength and blessings as well as Pearl and his endeavors. Marguerite