“For America to Live, Europe Must Die” (Russell Means)

Whatever your opinion (or lack of one) about Russell Means, the long-time AIM (American Indian Movement) activist, actor and some-time AIM leader, who died yesterday, this speech he gave at the Black Hills International Survival Gathering, July 1980, is well worth a read. It is posted at Attack the System. The link is at the bottom of this post.

He begins:

The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of “legitimate” thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world’s ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

And ends:

To some extent I tried to be a “leader,” in the sense that white media like to use that term, when the American Indian Movement was a young organization. This was a result of a confusion that I no longer have. You cannot be everything to everyone. I do not propose to be used in such a fashion by my enemies. I am not a leader. I am an Oglala Lakota patriot. This is all I want and all I need to be. And I am very comfortable with who I am.

For those of you struggle with his use of ‘white’ and ‘European’, he clarifies what he means in the body of the speech. Go on, follow the link and read the whole thing. Danger is, it might make you think, of course. I’m not saying I agree with it all and I’m not saying I don’t. Make up your own mind.

“For America to Live, Europe Must Die” « Attack the System.


4 thoughts on ““For America to Live, Europe Must Die” (Russell Means)

  1. Without experiencing the context that Russel Means refers to it is not likely that one can “make up your own mind.” It is definitely food for thought. I lived and worked with American Indian and Eskimo people for two decades and the more I experienced the less I “knew” until I realized that all cultures change. When this talk was given 32 years ago I wonder what Russel Means would have said if it had been suggested that he would play a character in a movie adapted from a James Fenimore Cooper novel.

  2. There are a *lot* of conversations and hearty debates to be had about this piece. At first, I thought he was supporting Marxism but was relieved to see a short while later that assumption was wrong.

    I also think the term capitalism has been seriously propagandized and misconstrued to be synonymous with cronyism and corporatism, when really they aren’t the same at all. Free market, laissez-faire capitalism is nothing more than voluntary trade/exchange. I find no vice in voluntary acts.
    It’s when the State comes in that this confusion arises – when the State grants privilege to certain businesses and they are able to dump their waste in public rivers and oceans and not be held accountable for permeating the land of mercury and so on and so on . . . this is where the root of the problem rests. There is no accountability for their aggressive actions against life on earth.

    And that, I’ve found, is what I always come back to when today’s problems are being discussed.

    “A culture which regularly confuses revolution with continuation, which confuses science and religion, which confuses revolt with resistance, has nothing helpful to teach you and nothing to offer you as a way of life.”


  3. I know it is late in time to comment, but I am in the now, September 1913, and it is here that need to take time to speak for The People, The Humans , that are my friends and neighbours who have blessed me with their knowledge and hearts, and blessings of my Art depicting them.
    First, there is no Indian or Eskimo. Those are Names we bestowed .there are First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.
    There were millions of people’s in all of North America until we came and took ,leaving European germs to decimate their populations.
    Then we took their land, their children, language, rites, all because we arrogantly thought that we could do better. As a result, especially from taking the children, changing their language at residential school, and taking their monotheistic God, and stuffing Christianity in. These people do not know. How to parent, be part of a family, speak to their elders or rely on their faith.
    So here in Northern Canada we are trying ti right the wrongs.
    I created a body of work called ” The Gifts of the North”. It is touring museums in southern Ontario, around Toronto now.
    I asked for and received blessings and mentoring from the First Nations and the Metis. Before the collection of anthropomorphic figures left, they we honoured by smudging, singing and drumming.
    If you would like to see the pieces inspired by living North of Lake Superior, you can find them here,

    Yours, janet

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