An autobiography of epic scope--the riveting, controversial story of Russell Means, the most revolutionary Indian leader of the Twentieth Century.
Where White Men Fear to Tread (written with Marvin J. Wolf) tells the absorbing story of the accountant-turned-Indian activist who burst onto the national scene when he led a seventy-one-day armed takeover of Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973.
Ever since, Means has done everything possible to dramatize the Indian wish for self-determination, from storming Mount Rushmore, to seizing Plymouth Rock, to fighting for the rights of indigenous Indian tribes in Central America, to running for President on the Libertarian ticket in 1988. The autobiography recounts Means's remarkable story--his incarcerations in prison, the thirteen assassination attempts on his life, his intellectual transformation to an outlaw personality, his spiritual awakening, and his most recent reincarnation as a Hollywood movie star in The Last of the Mohicans and Pocahontas.
Told against a larger historical background, Means's book retells the tragic quest of Indians to maintain their cultural identity in the face of unremitting white assimilation. We come away from Where White Men Fear to Tread knowing that Means is one of the bravest patriots in American history--a man in the tradition of Patrick Henry, Nat Turner, John Brown, Sitting Bull, and Abraham Lincoln, for these men are Means's true historical ancestors. Long awaited, this autobiography takes its place among the enduring works of America's greatest political and social leaders. In the tradition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Where White Men Fear to Tread is one of the most socially illuminating and provocative works to come along in many years.
``Indian people are dying of sympathy,'' declares legendary activist Means. ``What we want is respect.'' His unwieldy yet absorbing epic conveys his furious, resourceful activism, intertwined with (and sometimes overshadowed by) his own dramatic, messy life--including heavy drinking, attempts on his life, a stint in prison and several rocky marriages. ``Conscientized'' by the American Indian Movement at 30, Means helped define Indian rage, leading an occupation of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and, in 1973, an armed takeover of Wounded Knee in protest of a corrupt Lakota tribal government. Assisted by historian Wolf, Means tells his story with vernacular frankness, regularly slamming Eurocentrism. While Means's love for his people and his anger at America's historic depredations seem genuine, his conclusion steals some of his thunder (and contradicts his opposition to intermarriage): after finally entering therapy to cope with his anger, he determines that ``feelings and relationships'' matter far more than race or culture. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.