Russell Means, the Oglala/Lakoto Sioux Indian who was a vocal activist for American Indian rights in the 1970s and 80s and is also known for his role as Chingachgook in 1992's iconic The Last of the Mohicans, directed by Michael Mann and also starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, died on Monday at his Porcupine, S.D., ranch on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at the age of 72.

20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Means' death was a result of his battle with esophageal cancer, said his legal representative, Glenn Morris, according to the New York Times. After being diagnosed in 2011, Means opted for alternative herbal remedies instead of mainstream medical treatment.


A week of entertainment news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Means famously fashioned himself after Indian ancestors who resisted westward expansion during the frontier days, and he rose to fame as the leader of the American Indian Movement in 1970 when he and a group of protesters occupied the Mayflower II replica Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass.

Just a few years later in 1973, Means led a 71-day standoff with federal agents at Wounded Knee, S.D., the location of the last major battle of the American Indian wars, where approximately 350 Lakota Indians were massacred in 1890. In the standoff, two American Indians were killed and a federal agent was paralyzed. Though Means and co-organizer, Dennis Banks, were arrested and brought up on charges, the case was dismissed in a climate of increasing Native American sympathies.

Means had unrelated scrapes with the law after that, including spending a year in jail and suffering a stab wound after a 1974 riot in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was shot twice at separate times, delivered countless speeches and addresses and even ran for president of the Libertarian Party in 1987, losing the nomination to Ron Paul.

While the highlight of Means' acting career came with The Last of the Mohicans, he also appeared in 1994's Natural Born Killers, as the voice of Powhatan in 1995's animated film, Pocahontas, and in television series Nash Bridges, Touched by an Angel, Walker Texas Ranger and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

"He’s an iconic person. He’s lived through so much," said Mohicans director Mann, reports the Wall Street Journal. "What this guy stood for, the courage he had, and who they took on, in the 60, 70s and 80s …. Russell was fighting that battle every day of his life."

Get Uinterview's FREE iPhone App For Daily News Updates here.

Get the FREE Uinterview iPad app here and watch our videos anywhere.

For more like this:

Bollywood Movie Mogul Yash Chopra Dies At 80

NFL Films President Steve Sabol Dies At 69

Sylvester Stallone's Son Sage Dies AT 36

Ron Palillo, Horshack From 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' Dies At Age 63

Cosmo Editor Helen Gurley Brown Dies At 90

'Welcome Back Kotter' Star Robert Hegyes Dies

Country Music Pioneer Kitty Wells Dies At 92

Etta James Dies At 73

Banoist Earl Scruggs Dies At 88

Leave a comment

Read more about: