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October 24, 2012

Russell Means, American Indian Activist Turned Actor

After years of activism on behalf of American Indian causes, Means became a successful actor after director Michael Mann cast him in a key role in The Last of the Mohicans.

Russell Means, an American Indian activist who later became a successful film and television actor, died october 22, 2012, in Porcupine, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72.

According to news reports, the cause was complications from esophageal cancer.

In the 1970s and 80s, Means, an Oglala Sioux, became a nationally recognized figure for his frequent, often controversial demonstrations and occupations of federal land, always in support of American Indians.

In 1992, five years after he made an unsuccessful run for the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States, he embarked on a new career as an actor when director Michael Mann cast him as Chingachgook in his big-screen adaptation of the classic James Fenimore Cooper novel The Last of the Mohicans.

He went on to appear in more than 30 movies and television productions. His films other included Natural Born Killers and Pathfinder. His TV credits included Nash Bridges, Walker, Texas Ranger, Touched by an Angel, Profiler, Family Law, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Into the West.

Read more about his life and work at:

New York Times

npr.org

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