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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Russell Means Battles Throat Cancer Through Lakota Ways