Word came Monday morning of the death of Russell Means.

The former American Indian Movement activist and actor died Monday morning at his ranch at Porcupine, according to a spokeswoman for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He was 72 and had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

In many ways, to understand the impact of Russell Means, you had to be living in South Dakota 40 years ago. Tensions were high, and in 1973 Means and others led the occupation of Wounded Knee.

In later years, he got into other things, including acting, appearing in several movies and lending his voice to at least one animated feature.

It must be 10 or 15 years ago I had occasion to talk to him at an event here in Sioux Falls, and while I don't remember the topic, I said "You know, Russell, these are the same things we were talking about in the 1970s."

He laughed, gave me a big grin and said "And you had that mustache back then, too!"