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October 24, 2012 10:05 PM

Service Held To Honor Russell Mean's Life

kyle, sd

A band of horsemen brought Russell Means ashes the last five miles into Kyle, where a ceremony was held to honor the activist's life.

"Russ was very similar to Crazy Horse.  He was a man of territory, that's what Russ' life was; to protect our lands and our way of life," OST Vice President Tom Poor Bear said.

On Monday, Means passed away from cancer at his ranch in Porcupine. He was 72 years old.

"My uncle, Clyde Bellecourt, he's had a hard time with this but we were ready for this.  He's been going through a lot of pain lately," Minneapolis AIM member Jason Elias said.

Means was a well-known leader of the American Indian Movement.  He rose to international prominence when he led the 71-day AIM occupation of Wounded Knee.

"He gave us courage to stand up for what we believe in and to be proud of who you are," Poor Bear said.

AIM members from all across the region traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for today's ceremony.

"He's our brother, our uncle, our father, and this is something we had to do," Elias said.

"That's why all these people have come here today, to represent that pride that Russell gave everyone, and the courage that Russ along with the American Indian Movement gave not just to the Oglalas, but to other indigenous nations," Poor Bear said.

And although his earthly journey has come to an end, many here believe Means spirit will ride on.

"I know where Russ went in the spirit world.  He's riding with all the people who were honored before us," Poor Bear said.

Russell Mean’s ashes will be spread in the Black Hills at a private ceremony Thursday. Three other events are planned to honor the late activist next year.

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