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He has declared an independent nation on a large chunk of US soil - saying it is the right of his Lakota people.
From Hollywood to a real-life armed siege, he has fought for better awareness of Native American Indian rights.
The Los Angeles Times has called him the "most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse" and few can boast such a colourful life.
An actor, politician, musician and activist, Russell Means has been locked up in prison, shot at, organised riots and occupations, mixed with celebrities, and taken on the US government.
Born in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1939, Means was the eldest son of an Oglala Sioux Indian. Soon after World War II, his family moved to San Francisco, in California, where he attended the mainstream school system, but from an early age, Means was making his mark.
He became an early pioneer and first national director of the American Indian Movement – and though he later clashed with members of the group, he spent years organising occupations of historic locations - most famously, in 1973, a 71-day take-over of Wounded Knee – a small village on the site of an historic Indian massacre in 1890.
His bold actions made him a celebrity, attracting the attention of actor, Marlon Brando, and artist, Andy Warhol, who created an iconic portrait of Russell Means in 1976.
His profile grew further when he started acting in 1992, playing roles such as a Native American Indian chief in the Hollywood blockbuster The Last of the Mohicans.
In 1997, he published his controversial autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread, trying to explain some of his radical activism – something he still advocates to this day.
This episode of One on One aired from Saturday, May 16, 2009.
Source: Al Jazeera