1987 - Russell Means Home
"AIM" Wounded Knee Activist
I had been actively involved in the 1980 LP Party's Ed Clark for President campaign and had donated $5000 which had helped Ed pay for his national ad promoting the abolishment of the draft which Ronald Reagan later helped get passed. I think it was for this reason that members of the LP contacted me to attend a small dinner party with Russell Means who was running for the LP Presidential nomination in 1987.
I had been supporting Ron Paul who was also running for the nomination and would later win it. At that time my friend Wes, the radio talk show host, was aware of LP activities and had set up an interview with Means on his talk show. One day on the show he asked me if I could drive Russell around the next day to his local appointments. I had my business to run, but wasn't that busy at the time and could have spared the time, but I hated driving in Ft Myers traffic and figured I would be hit up for a donation if I got too close to Russell. I had spent most of the money I had made in 1980 by then and wasn't in a position to donate much anyway. So I declined. Soon after that I was called by a local LP friend and asked to attend the dinner party the LP was having with Russell.
Wes and I picked Russell up in San Carlos Park and drove him to the dinner in Ft. Myers. At the time I believed that public ownership of anything was a bad idea and that private property could solve all the world's problems. I was arguing for private ownership of almost everything. On the way to the dinner we got into a conversation about public vs private ownership. I had recently read an article in “Reason” magazine claiming that private ownership of the Buffalo would have preserved its population and I made that argument to Russell. At the time I did not have a great understanding of the native American experience or how strange that idea would be to a nomadic culture or even how impractical it might be.
After the dinner party it came time to ask questions and I mentioned to Dennis that Ron Paul's credentials were pretty good when it came to his resolve to fight big government and asked how we could know how strong Russell's libertarian credentials were. He pointed out to me some of his prior protests against the policies of the Federal government including the battle at Wounded Knee and I must admit I felt pretty foolish.
After the dinner we went back to where Russell was staying in San Carlos Park and I asked him more about Wounded Knee and he told me and Wes the whole story. Some of his friends were killed there. I remember reading a book about it which made me think it was an inter-tribal squabble in which the party opposing Russell's group had the backing of the FBI.
Accompanying Russell that night was the LP state party VP and it was my conversation with him that really made me wonder about Russell's economic beliefs. The VP had some of the most inane left wing economic beliefs I had ever heard. He was talking about a society where no one had to work and had virtually no grasp of economics. It made me wonder what had happened to the LP of Florida. I probably should have donated something to Russell after all the time he spent with me, but after hearing his LP companion, who was the VP of the Florida LP, talk on economics I just couldn't. I left without donating and never heard from Russell again. As I mentioned Russell later lost the nomination to Ron Paul.
Thinking about it now I suppose it was unfair to assume anything about Russell's economic beliefs based on the man accompanying him. After all Russell had asked Wes to ask me to drive him around and I doubt Russell was acquainted with his driver who probably volunteered. It was probably also unfair to assume that the entire Florida LP had moved to the left based on the election of one member to the executive board. The views he shared with me were probably unknown to many of those who voted him in. Since Harry Browne was the LP candidate for President in 1996 and 2000 I have to assume that the LP was on the right track.