Russell Means, left, and Dennis Banks in 1973, when they led a protest at Wounded Knee, S.D.
Mr. Means cut off his braids a few months before receiving his cancer diagnosis. It was, he said in an interview last October, a gesture of mourning for his people. In Lakota lore, he explained, the hair holds memories, and mourners often cut it to release those memories, and the people in them, to the spirit world.
As my friend Fritz emailed me yesterday from Innsbruck: Means cut his braids and died … for sure he was a good man.
Oh wahn’ zhu m’ah kinct chah gah Oh tah’ koh tah. :(