Tuesday, October 23, 2012

About Russell Means...

Early yesterday (October 22, 2012), I learned that Russell Means had passed away.

As I thought about Russell Means, I remembered when I first learned about him. I was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico. It was the late 1970s, and I found a book in the library about the Trail of Broken Treaties. My memory is that the book was, in large part, comprised of newspaper stories about the Trail of Broken Treaties. With that info, I did a quick search and think I found it. I think it was Trail of Broken Treaties: B.I.A., I'm Not Your Indian Anymore.  I've ordered a copy and will write about it when I receive it.

Today, I've spent several hours poking around databases searching for children or young adult biographies about Russell Means, or, books about the American Indian Movement that might have information about him. 

I didn't find any biographies of Means. There is, of course, his autobiography, Where White Men Fear To Tread, but I didn't find any biographies for children or young adults. He is one of six Native people in Ruth Hull Chatlien's Modern American Indian Leaders, published in 2009 by Mason Crest, but I can't find a copy in the local libraries. 

I did find that Chelsea House published Red Power: The Native American Civil Rights Movement in 2007. The man in the foreground is Russell Means. 

Having found a copy at the local library, I read it quickly, and think it has much to offer to readers in middle school and on up. Troy Johnson has done several books on American Indian activism. My quibble is with the title.  I think our activism is more about treaty rights than civil rights. 

There are several pages in it about Means, but I do think we need a full-length biography of him.

Native Media on Russell Means
Russell Means: A Look at His Journey Through Life, at Indian Country Today (Oct 22, 2012)
American Indians to Honor Russell Means' Life Tomorrow, at Native News Network (Oct 22, 2012)
Indian Country Reacts to Russell Means Passing, at Indian Country Today (Oct 24, 2012)

1 comment:

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Agreed on treaty rights.

Many children's-YA biographers in particular are reluctant to take on living subjects--partly because they can't tell the whole story and partly because it could still take an unexpected turn.

I was surprised to have seen no mention--however passing, of RM's death in the mainstream media. I didn't expect a lead story, but I'd hoped for at least an acknowledgement.

Perhaps I simply missed it--this is the height of speaker season for chidren's-YA authors, so...

In any case, I suspect he'd be a tough topic sell to all but perhaps the multicultural "specialist" publishers as he's not particularly well known to the general public (I find this unfortunate, but it's why we have so many biographies of the same historical figures).