Category Archives: A Thunder-Being Nation

In commemoration of the first anniversary of my friend Russell Means’s passing.

It’s incredible to think that a year has gone by since Russell’s passing over last year (on the 22nd October) after a valiant battle with cancer. In this year he has been so often in my thoughts and we have visited together in my dreams. I wanted to share again what I wrote that sad day one year ago.

“If Martin Luther King had instigated a civil rights action that resulted in a 71 day siege with the US government Marshalls and agents employing armored personnel carriers, airforce jets and up to 500,000 bullets fired would it not be at the forefront of the history of US Civil Rights? American Indian Movement leader Russell Means who died aged 72 recently instigated such a civil rights action in 1973 that resulted in the Wounded Knee Occupation. Sadly contemporary American Indian history is ignored. Perhaps Russell would be a more famous figure if he died for his cause like Malcolm X and Dr. King? Russell survived numerous attempts on his life as he was not an easy man to kill. I once had him point out his bullet wounds, stab wounds and shrapnel wounds. But then again American Indian Movement activists were routinely murdered and it never made a headline. How ironic that there is not even racial equality when looking at the actions of civil rights activists.

I first met Russell thirteen years ago. I’m a film director from Scotland and was documenting the repatriation of a sacred Ghost Shirt from a Scottish museum to Wounded Knee. Due to twists of fate within three hours of hitting Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I was at his home and he asked me to film three days of political meetings. Wow. Going in he was a hero of mine, Now, today as I grieve his loss he is a very dear friend. Twice I was by his side during unsuccessful Tribal Presidential Election Campaigns. He starred in a movie, Rez Bomb I made on his reservation and also featured in a feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge that I made over 13 years. I once helped bail him out of jail, the next day he sat with me and watched my soccer team Manchester United end Arsenal’s Invincibles undefeated run. For three years I had the honor of being Fire Keeper at his families Sun Dance ceremony. I have never met such a force of nature.

Other than his activism he is known for his movie career, which started at the top in a lead role opposite Daniel Day Lewis in the epic Last of the Mohicans. In 1984 for a time he was Larry Flynt’s running mate for US President. Four years later Ron Paul defeated him to be the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Candidate. But it will be for his leadership of the American Indian Movement through it’s heyday and turbulent times in the 70?s that he will be best remembered for.

Like many of us he was complex and yet simple. From the simplicity came his strength: Seeing the injustice perpetrated against indigenous peoples, he fought for their freedom. He devoted his life to that. His knowledge was remarkable and unwaveringly tied to his world view. He had a temper. He was passionate. He was very very funny. His fight against cancer was monumental. It should have killed him long before it did if Western Medicine’s diagnosis was to be believed. But as strong as he was throughout this it was matched every step of the way by his remarkable wife Pearl. With all the lessons Russell learnt throughout his life his final lesson that was revealed as a result of the cancer I feel was the most powerful. That was the absolute love, commitment and devotion Pearl committed to him. That blew his mind.

Our relationship was based on three fundamentals; we enjoyed exercising each others brains, we could laugh together for hours and we loved each other. Not many people have the honor and joy of befriending one of the most extraordinary individuals of our age. Russell truly was that. I am eternally grateful for knowing Russell and his impact on my life has been seismic. Our last time together was a two day road-trip eight weeks before his passing. I can’t imagine this world without him.

When we weren’t together we communicated via email through Pearl. One day he rang, which he never did. It was to tease me because my Manchester United were kicked out of the Carling Cup by relative minnows. That summed Russell up to me.

The morning of his death he appeared to me in the most beautiful of dreams and as I awoke I knew he was gone but that all was spectacularly well with him. That he was soaring. He told me once that he was going to come back to earth as lightening and strike the White House. Knowing Russell, I wouldn’t bet against it. They better invest in a bigger lightening rod.”

The 45 minute long interview I shot with Russell that forms a big part of our feature documentary about Pine Ridge, A Thunder-Being Nation can be view online here VOD PAGE

our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more.

Available to watch online in full for the first time – Watch An Interview with Russell Means – 45 mins

In 1999 I’d been on Pine Ridge less than 3 hours when I found myself through twists of fate at Russell Means’s house as 3 days of political meetings were commencing. Russell asked me to record the event and also agreed to do an interview with me the next morning. For the first time this interview is available online in full (other than editing out some of the questions)

The 45 mins interview was up till now only available on the Special Edition DVD of our movie Rez Bomb that starred Russell and was shot on Pine Ridge. Excerpts from the interview are in our feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation, the most comprehensive look at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (10 hours of extras on the Ultimate Edition DVD)

Click on this link to view it. Little excerpts are below. http://vimeo.com/ondemand/3234/69790042

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience

Chief Oliver Red Cloud’s Passing & the Passing of too many other Participants in my Documentary A Thunder-Being Nation

Oliver Red Cloud has just walked on at the grand old age of 93. He is the latest participant in my feature documentary A Thunder-Being Nation about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who has passed on since I started filming it back in 1999. Thankfully many were a good age like Russell Loud Hawk (mid 80’s), Claudia Iron Hawk (80), Johnson Holy Rock (mid 90’s) but one thing that is striking about visiting a cemetery on Pine Ridge is that you see on grave stones in the past so many people dying in old age like this but more recently many more dying in middle age with very little in between.

Of our participants the delightful Harvey White Woman only lived to 44. Others around the project made it to mid 50’s. In fact the only person in the documentary so far that has passed on of an age between mid 50’s and 80’s was my dear friend Russell Means who we very sadly lost last year at 72 after an extraordinary fight with cancer.

Nothing shows to me the decline in the quality of life on Pine Ridge in the last few decades than the fact that so many people now are struggling to survive beyond middle age. Some of the reasons for this are explored in A Thunder-Being Nation. I am very honored and proud to have been able to document so many of their stories in the documentary while they walked among us. In the 10 hours of extra features of the Ultimate Edition DVD there are full interviews of many of these people who had passed on. It’s there as a constant resource for those of you who want to find out more.

Our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more. The closer we get to recovering our costs on our films the quicker we can start looking to invest more in other projects in Indian Country although it’s an uphill battle finding an audience (as discussed in my previous post).

It can also be watched on demand here

Trailer

In depth promo about the doc

Excerpt of the work in progress on housing.

An early promo for the project

Wounded Knee Ghost Shirt Repatriation – A Thunder-Being Nation Pine Ridge Indian Reservation outtake

An out-take from A Thunder-Being Nation a new Pine Ridge Indian Reservation documentary and part of the 10 hours of extra features on the Ultimate Edition DVD. Other extras include full interviews with elders that had passed on etc.

our DVD’s are available at amazon or www.inyoentertainment.com where you can save 15% using the coupon code Blog15 to save 15% or Blog20 to save 20% when spending $60 or more.